J&D's Travelog


Hartford, Connecticut

Oct. 15-17, 2010

Map of the Connecticut

Located as it is, at the junction of I-84 and I-91, it seemed like we had driven by Hartford a dozen times on our way to New York City and other points west. Each time we remarked that we should really stop some day and see what Hartford has to offer. That day finally came. We had tickets to see Roger Waters perform The Wall at the XL Center on a Friday night, and we decided to make a weekend out of it.

At 67, Waters claims this tour will be his last time touring.
Get 'em up against the wall

The original tour in 1980 consisted of a handful of shows in 4 cities.
Is there anybody out there?

Author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Hartford for years as Mark Twain's neighbor
Harriet Beecher-Stowe House

Completed in 1919, this building was home to the Travelers Insurance Company.
Travelers Tower

This statue commemorates the arrival of settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635.
Safe Arrival

Most of the downtown bars had very strict dress codes.
Strict Codes

On loan to the museum, Lego Mark Twain is 6 ft tall and weighs 150 lbs.
Lego Mark Twain


The city of Hartford was founded in 1636 when a group of Puritans from the Massachusetts Bay Colony settled on the west side of the Connecticut River just north of a Dutch trading outpost. The Dutch eventually abandoned the area, perhaps due to the arrival of the English. The settlement was named Hartford to honor Hertferd, England. Being outside the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the leaders of Hartford drafted their Fundamental Orders that asserted the people’s right to be self-governed – a precursor to the US Constitution.

Hartford began to grow as its importance as a trading center developed. Its proximity to the Connecticut River permitted shipping of goods to and from Europe and the West Indies. But it was the presence of these river captains that gave birth to Hartford’s trademark industry. In an era when ships were prey to fire, storms, and pirates, captains began to work with the merchants to share the risk of their voyages. This practice led to the founding of the Hartford Fire Insurance Company in 1810. Hartford soon became the country’s richest city and is still known as the insurance capital of America with companies such as Aetna, Travelers, and the Hartford headquartered there.

One of Hartford’s most celebrated residents of the 19th century was Samuel Clemens. Mark Twain moved his family to the Nook Farm area of Hartford in 1871. He spent much of his wife’s inheritance on a magnificent gothic mansion on land near the home of fellow author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Only guided tours of the house are permitted, so we obediently moved from room to room while the tour guide recited all the salient information. It was a profound experience to stand in Twain’s drawing room where he worked on such works as Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, the Prince and the Pauper, and a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. We lingered a little after the group moved on to imagine Twain sitting at his desk writing some of the greatest stories in American literature or shooting a rack at the billiard table while waiting for inspiration to come. While the Twain house is a must-see, we were equally captivated by the adjacent museum. In particular, the exhibit on Tom Sawyer shows just how controversial Twain’s classic had been and continues to be today

We spent the rest of our time walking around the downtown area popping into the occasional watering hole. Eventually we came to Bushnell Park near the State Capitol building. We took a spin on the famous hand-carved wooden carousel, one of only a handful in the country. We stumbled upon a great Mexican restaurant across from the XL Center that served guacamole made fresh right at your table. J has a weakness for guacamole and this restaurant may be her most lasting memory from our visit to Hartford.

Completed in 1874, Mark Twain lived here with his family until 1891 and wrote some of his best known works like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
The Clemens Family House


Mark Twain was an avid billiards player.
Mark Twain's study


The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch honors the Civil War fallen and serves as a gateway  into Bushnell Park
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial


The state capitol building overlooks Bushnell Park
Connecticut State Capitol

Hartford is Connecticut's thrid largest city and serves as the state capital
Downtown Hartford

One of only about 200 carousels left in the US, the Bushnell carousel has been spinning since 1914.
The Carousel in Bushnell Park

One of the few remaining antique wooden carousels in the US.
Ride for a dollar

Built in 1919 for Travelers Insurance Co., the tower was the tallest outside of New York at the time.
At Travelers Tower

The name for Asylum Hill derived from the presence of the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons.
The Hartford on Asylum Hill

As with many other insurance companies, Aetna began as a company offering insurance protection against fire.
Aetna's Headquarters

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