A letter to the editor in today’s Courant claims:
Mr. Springsteen managed to bring more than 16,000 people into downtown Hartford this past week to eat and drink at local businesses and celebrate on what would have been an otherwise dead Tuesday.
And while it’s true that The Boss got people into the city for the evening, this author makes two assumptions that are false–
1. I’m not convinced that a majority of these visitors supported local businesses. As with most concerts and other large events that happen in Hartford, a great many drive in, park, attend the concert, and leave. They might buy from the concession booths, and they will pay for parking, but I really do not see people in droves going into The Russell or JoJos.
2. Hartford is not dead. Everytime someone refers to Hartford as dead, I want to puke just a little. Dead, how? I hear this said about after work hours during the week and on weekends. It’s become a joke with my partner and I. On the weekend, we’ll bike downtown for breakfast, and as we have to contend with traffic, one of us will remark on how dead the city is. There was a time when, on the weekend, I waited over half an hour for a coffee smoothie because the place was so crowded (okay, if I were pushy, I could have gotten it sooner, but I’m kind of a regular and the owner knew I’d be patient).
If you want to constant chaos of NYC, then go to NYC. I think that our society has become satisfied with the strip mall mentality, that everything must be identical everywhere we go. If we have a Chicos, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, and Banana Republic in our town, then we become mortified when we go on vacation somewhere and they have none of those familiar options. Likewise, there’s this bizarre expectation that all cities be like NYC, Boston, or Chicago. There are good things about all of them, but no need to emulate each in full. I like how clean Boston is, the architecture and parks in Chicago, and the millions of tiny stores in New York, and while Hartford should strive to be cleaner, have more interesting new buildings, and be fiscally inviting (screw reval) for mom & pop businesses, Hartford also does not have to be identical to these cities. Why not be unique and give people a reason for coming here?