Hartford

Hartford, Conn. [Named from Hertford, England.] It is the capital of Connecticut, on the right bank of the Connecticut River, fifty miles from its mouth, and one hundred and twelve by rail northeast of New York. It is a handsome city, finely situated on the navigable Connecticut River, at its confluence with the Park River. The Union Depot is near the center of the town. To the southwest of it, beyond the Park River, lies Bushnell Park, containing the handsome white marble Capitol, a conspicuous object in most views of the town.

The fine sculptural embellishment of the north facade of the Capitol was done under the supervision of Paul W. Bartlett and partly by his own hand. The Senate Chamber contains a good portrait of Washington, by Stuart, and an elaborately carved chair, made from the wood of the “Charter Oak.” In the Library are the Charter of Connecticut and portraits of Connecticut governors. In the east wing of the ground floor is a statue of Nathan Hale, and in the west wing are the tombstone of General Putnam and a statue of Governor Buckingham.

The gateway to the park was erected as a Soldiers' Memorial.

Following Capitol Avenue to the east and then turning to the left, along Main Street, is the Wadsworth Athenæum, containing a gallery and libraries with one hundred and fifty thousand volumes, and the collections of the Historical Society. Adjacent are the buildings of the Ætna Life Insurance, the Ætna Fire Insurance, and the Travelers Insurance Co. A little farther on is the Post Office, adjoined by the interesting Old State House, erected by Chas. Bulfinch. Opposite is the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. The State Arsenal is also on Main Street farther along.

Near the State House are the High School, the Hartford Orphan Asylum, and the Hartford Theological Institute. About a mile to the south is Trinity College, with fine buildings and equally fine location. The Colt Firearms factory is in the southeast part of the city, and near it is the handsome Church of the Good Shepherd, erected in memory of Colonel Colt, inventor of the revolver, by his wife.

A tablet at the corner of Charter Oak Place marks the site of the “Charter Oak,” where, in 1687, the charter of Connecticut was concealed to save it from Sir Edmund Andros, a tyrannical British governor. Charter Oak Park is famous for its trotting races. Elizabeth Park has a fine show of flowers.

Among other large buildings are the Retreat for the Insane, the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, the Old Folks Home, the City Hospital, and St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Cathedral. The last is in Farmington Avenue, which, with its continuation, Asylum Street, contains many fine private residences.

Hartford is a prominent commercial and manufacturing city, and is particularly noted for the importance of its insurance companies, rating third in this regard among the cities of the United States. It is the farthest point, at present, to which large steamers can ascend the Connecticut River. Among the manufactures are firearms—the celebrated Colt manufactory is here—typewriters, rubber goods, especially tires, electrical supplies, automobiles, bicycles, sewing-machines, hardware, tools, carriages, silver plate, woven wire mattresses, book binding machinery, cash registers, knit goods, etc.

The site of a Dutch fort in 1633, and of a colony of Massachusetts settlers as early as 1635-1636, Hartford was incorporated as a city in 1784. Here (January 14, 1639) was adopted the first constitution in writing ever proclaimed by a people organizing a government, therefore Hartford is called the birthplace of American democracy. In 1687 occurred the famous attempt of Governor Andros to seize the charter of Connecticut. Hartford was the capital of Connecticut until 1701, thenceforth until 1873 it divided the responsibility with New Haven. Since 1875 it has been sole capital. Here in 1814 took place the famous meeting of New England delegates known as the Hartford Convention.

About 1780 the “Hartford wits,” of whom Joel Barlow was one, made the city a literary center. Since that time it has been the residence of a large number of literary men and women; among them Harriet Beecher Stowe, Whittier, Trumbull, Charles Dudley Warner, and Samuel L. Clemens. Noah Webster, Henry Barnard, Frederick Law Olmsted, and John Fiske were born here.