The Nose: Hooray For Hollywood, Boo-Hoo For Hartford

Chion Wolf is (temporarily!) headed to Hollywood.

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The Nose: Hooray For Hollywood, Boo-Hoo For Hartford
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The Nose: Hooray For Hollywood, Boo-Hoo For Hartford

This week an obscure Wall Street-oriented blog put Hartford on a list of ten dead cities, and, in Manchester, fans of the restaurant Shady Glen were thrilled by the resolution of a crisis involving the cheese they use on a special -- even legendary -- cheeseburger.

We analyze and explain both stories on the Nose today, and they seem just a tiny bit related -- because, yes, Hartford has a lot of problems, maybe more problems than the capital city of Connecticut really should have.

And one reason those problems are hard to fix is because people around here hate to change anything. There are parts of the fast-developing Southwest where buildings are razed overnight and people barely notice. Change is a constant.

But in an area where people lose their stuff over a shift in cheese supplier, it's hard to implement new visions. Or maybe we just like the way things are.

You can join the conversation. Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.




Do you know anyone personally (i.e. someone from the suburbs) who has had any safety problem while visiting downtown Hartford?

Visited Hartford in July

Visited Hartford in July after being away for 18 years, living overseas, and was appalled by how dead the place was, even during the day and early evening: barely a soul to be seen on the streets, no small businesses, hardly any restaurants, overpriced hotels, no public transit (sorry, an ancient bus crawling along Farmington Avenue every now and then is not a proper mass transit system), no cinemas, no galleries, no shops, no cafes, no nightlife, nothing to attract a soul. Another thing that struck me was how at every turn I was warned by folk not to go downtown because of the disproportionately high crime rate, but is it honestly that high? Seriously, other than to visit friends, I can't imagine coming back to Hartford; it really saddens me to see what was once a hopeful, forward-looking little city turn into a tomb.

We don't need no stinkin' CHANGE

WHOA wait a minute here. One of the reasons downtown Hartford is in such a predicament is due to the ability to make way too much BAD change!! We've been a victim of change as it has with some rare exceptions eviscerated downtown of some rather historically significant assets. Constitution Plaza comes to mind immediately, as does the fact that in the late 80's three huge parcels were razed to make way for 3 mega Manhattanesque skyscrapers, including the city's original skyscraper (Aetna) that used to be on Main Street. Twenty or so years later only one of them has been developed between Trumbull and Lewis Streets. The other two remain pathetic surface parking lots.

Here's what Hartford had and could have retained...

The ability to raise funds to arbitrarily raze structures is why towns like Northampton and Middletown are doing much better having preserved their stock and created charming human scaled spaces.

And finally compared with New England, there's serious dearth of character in Southwest Cities. If you travel ten blocks in either direction, they basically repeat.

E-mail from Wayne

I missed the call-in window for Friday's show, but your mention of Hartford's literary institutions as a potential "nucleus" of outside interest, combined with your bemoaning the dearth of any reflection of the city's tremendous ethnic diversity in its downtown, brought to mind an important upcoming event. The Hartford West Indian Literary Festival, is, I believe, slated to run all day, Wednesday, October 27th at Capital Community College. This would be the event's first year, so its organizers can use all of the advance help and buzz they can get. The whole thing is the brainchild of Vangella Buchanan, a self-published author, West Indian immigrant, and adjunct instructor at Capital Community College. The college itself is a cultural institution of note, and a magnet that draws the diverse residents of the city to its downtown. I'm sure you know that the G. Fox building has for the past eight years been a bright spot in our fair "dead" city, thanks in large part to the college. A well-attended West Indian Literary Festival would be yet another event to get a few more feet onto the sidewalks of Main Street.

E-mail from James

I love Mad Men but Breaking Bad is in its own class. Mad Men is falling into soap opera territory while Breaking Bad continues to amaze.

E-mail from Kelly

You are always talking about parking in Hartford. Convince me that the issue is parking and not safety.

E-mail from Karl

I don't think of Hartford, but rather those "last built, first foreclosed" subdivisions and unincorporated "communities" which are emptying out and falling apart with so many claptrap houses in them which will never be paid off by their original mortgagor. If it sounds unfamiliar, that's because they're hardly around the olde, decrepit, Rust Belt. We're talking much of the housing built recently in California, Arizona, Colorado and such.

If the location name don't come to mind readily, just tape any David Brooks column extolling the new libertarian exurbs from the middle of the last decade to the wall, and throw darts.