Hartford is considered to be one of the oldest cities in the United States. The first explorer to venture into the area of present-day Hartford was Adriaen Block in 1614. The first trading posts were founded by the Dutch of the New Netherland colony in 1623, however twenty years later they abandoned it. The initial post was located at the confluence of the Connecticut and Park rivers, and the site is still today known as Dutch Point. The English came founded their first settlement in 1634, naming it Newtown. The settlement was renamed Hartford a couple of years later, after Hertford, England, the hometown of one of the settlers.
Connecticut is sometimes known as the “Constitution State.” This is in reference to the fact that Pastor Thomas Hooker wrote a document called Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in 1639 insisting that the people should be those who govern, not some higher power. The conception of self-rule was new at the time in America and it was later included as one of the crucial elements not only in the Connecticut Constitution but also partly in the U.S. Constitution.
The Hartford Convention of 1814 gathered delegated from all over New England to discuss the possibility of secession from the United States. The proposal was not accepted. Throughout the 19th century Hartford was known as a strong abolitionist center. One of the most powerful abolitionist families were the Beechers - the Reverend Lyman Beecher was a minister who frequently delivered passionate anti-slavery speeches, and so did his son, also a pastor. His daughter Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” a powerful anti-slavery book and one of the most important pieces in the American literature. In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln visited Hartford, the local abolitionists held the first in the series of nation-wide political and celebratory parades called Wide Awakes.
Hartford was the site of the deadliest fire disasters in the American history when in 1944 the roof of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus took fire during an afternoon performance, killing 169 people and injuring more than 700.
In 1987, Carrie Saxon Perry was elected mayor of Hartford, becoming the first female African-American mayor of a major US town in history.
After the World War II, there was a significant influx of Puerto Rican immigrants to Hartford, and their community is today one of the most important ones in the city.
The 1950s marked the beginning of a process in which more and more residents and families moved to suburbs outside Hartford, while mostly still holding jobs in the city. The city started to decline and only in 1980, with a new economy boom, the plans were made to revitalize the city by building new skyscrapers and renewing the urban landscape. However, the recession brought new development to a halt and many of the planned buildings were never constructed. Constitution Plaza became an office park and many of the city’s department stores closed as the suburban malls flourished in the area.
in 1997, Hartford lost the National Hockey League franchise, the Hartford Whalers, to Raleigh, NC, but the efforts are currently being made to bring the franchise back to Hartford.
Geography and Climate
Hartford is located on the Connecticut River which separates it from the adjacent East Hartford. There used to be another river in the city, called the Park River, which formed a boundary between northern and southern sections of the city, but today it is mostly closed off by flood protection projects. Hartford occupies an area of 18 square miles and borders with towns of Windsor, West Windsor, Newington, East Hartford, West Hartford and Bloomfield.
Hartford has a humid continental climate. The summers are typical for New England- hot and humid, and the winters are cold with frequent snowfall. Thunderstorms often occur in the summer and tend to be severe, while tornadoes are very rare. Hartford was by the 1938 New England Hurricane and also by the 2011 Hurricane Irene, when it suffered extensive damage.
Population of Hartford
The largest racial demographic group in Hartford is Hispanic or Latino (45%), followed by African American (40%), White (18%), Asian (1.6%), Native American (0.54%), Pacific Islander (0.11%), other races (28.5%) and two or more races (5.4%). The city has a largest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the USA, after Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Politically, the city is predominantly Democrat.
As for the economy, Hartford has traditionally been an international insurance center, with major companies including Uniprise, Hartford Steam Boiler, Travelers, Aetna, The Phoenix Companies, The Hartford and the Lincoln National Corporation. Up until the 1950s, Hartford was also a large industrial center, mostly focusing on precision manufacturing. However, once thriving industrial hub, the city has recently lost most of its major factories and industrial establishments. Other important economy sectors in the city include research, health care and education.
In 2011 Hartford had the highest GDP per capita in the world while in 2004 it ranked second in per capita economic activity, after San Francisco.
Education and Culture in Hartford
The most notable institution of higher education in Hartford is certainly Trinity College. Other important institutions include Capital Community College, the University of Connecticut School of Business and the Hartford Seminary.
Some of the important cultural institutions and historic sites in the city include Wadsworth Atheneum, Cathedral of St. Joseph, Armsmear, Aetna Headquarters, State Capitol Building, the Mark Twain House, Bushnell Park and Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.
Hartford area is serviced by the Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks. Interstate buses are operated by Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus, while Chinatown Bus Lines provide a direct link to New York City. Amtrak has lines to New Haven and to Vermont. Interstate highways that run through Hartford are I-91 and I-84.