Summer’s finally here, and there’s no better time to discover America’s greatest cities on foot! Today, we’re setting down in Hartford, CT, where early American history comes alive.
Summer Walking Tour Of Hartford, CT
Hartford is home to many American firsts, and we’ll visit them all along the way. In fact, America’s democratic government would not be alive today without Hartford’s own contribution. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, a document penned in 1638 that ceded legislative authority to the state’s people, inspired America’s Constitution in many of its most important aspects. Hartford represents the birth of our nation’s greatest ideals. With that in mind, let’s start walking!
Begin In Hartford’s Bushnell Park
Bushnell Park is America’s oldest public park. Designed and built in the mid-19th century, Bushnell Park extend for 37 verdant acres, anchored by the grand Soldiers And Sailors Memorial Arch. The best surprise? Besides numerous works of public art, Bushnell Park is home to a vintage 1914 carousel which still runs today.
Bushnell Park features a wonderful statue of Israel Putnam, a hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill and the man who famously said, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”
Hartford’s Bushnell Park is bounded by Elm, Jewell, and Trinity Streets.
See What’s On Display At The Wadsworth Atheneum
Hartford, CT is world-renowned for its dedication to art. Another first, Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum is America’s oldest public art museum. Founded in 1842, the Atheneum’s permanent collection pioneered the distinctly American ideal of the “encyclopedic” museum – that, in total, a museum’s works could portray an accurate, nuanced depiction of the nation.
Now, guests are treated to exemplary samples of both early and Modern American art, decorative art, and European masterworks. The Wadsworth Atheneum is located at 600 Main Street in Hartford, CT.
Carl Andre’s Stone Field
While Hartford is fairly conservative by East Coast standards, it’sAcross the street from the Wadsworth Atheneum, and directly beside Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, sits Carl Andre’s Stone Field sculpture.
Commissioned by the city in 1977, Andre’s monument occupies a small triangle of land. Composed of eight rows of boulders, 36 in all, the piece is fascinating not only for its (arguable) artistic merits, but also for Hartford’s popular reaction. The sculpture cost Hartford $87,000 and is now largely considered an embarrassment. We’ll call this stop a caveat for curious grown-ups. Let us know what you think.
Across from the Atheneum and Andre’s Stone Field rests Alexander Calder’s Stegosaurus. Calder was a giant in American sculpture, credited with inventing the mobile. Erected in 1973, his Stegosaurus rises 55 feet, abstractly evoking the form of a giant Jurassic dinosaur.
Check Out Connecticut’s Old State House
Completed in 1796, Hartford’s Old State House is just a few blocks from Calder’s Stegosaurus. Today, the State House is home to many exhibits and activities that hope to bring history and the spirit of democracy to life for children and their parents. Kids with lively imaginations can revel in the Old State House’s history of paranormal activity!
Hartford, Connecticut’s Old State House is located at 800 Main Street.
Travel To Asylum Hill
Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood offers visitors historical local color. Both Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and noted abolitionist, lived on Asylum Hill’s Farmington Avenue. Their beautiful homes have been converted into museums.