Here are the top twelve items of interest on Real Hartford, judging by which posts were read the most and over the longest period of time. Sometimes there are short spikes in blog traffic, but I am more interested in what is on people’s minds for more than a week at a time. These are not ranked exactly in order of popularity:
- Bathrooms in downtown Hartford: more than anything else, people want to know where to find the nearest toilet. This is sensible. People are not always sensible. For example, on the evening of the UConn Huskies’ 89th consecutive win, ten minutes before game time, people were still driving around looking for parking and asking me for directions. I must’ve looked like someone who would not lie and send them in the wrong direction. Besides that downtown Hartford is small and not terribly difficult to navigate, it strikes me that one might get directions before leaving the house, not when the game is about to begin. So, it’s good to know that people are reading up about bathroom options so that they are taking care of business indoors rather than in alleys or behind dumpsters because of poor planning.
- Where to find parking in downtown Hartford: This was a rare post written after a reader suggested the topic. I recognize that the official bring-people-to-the-central-business-district folks have such information posted, but they are all about promoting just the garages and say little about other parking options, let alone where someone can park a bicycle. One major arts and entertainment venue which I shall not name was flabbergasted when I called to ask about where I might park my bicycle. I thought I was being polite by making such a call, rather than chaining up to their very expensive fencing. They were kind enough to call me back with an answer after the woman on the other end of the phone asked me “you’re riding at night? in the winter?” as if such a feat is not done daily. I’ll assume she does not read Beat Bike Blog. Since businesses and venues can not always answer such questions readily, I thought that I might as well try to create some guides.
- The official and unofficial Puerto Rican Day parade(s): Honestly, people were more interested in the unofficial parade, judging from searches, but many wound up looking photos from the legit parade as well. I don’t tend to view parades as being rife with controversy; I think I’m alone in that. Some readers were upset about the noise, obnoxious behavior, music containing profanity, young females dressed inappropriately for their ages, and the noise. It’s worth mentioning noise more than once. Some felt that the antics made the Puerto Rican community look bad.
- Demolition of the Lyric Theater: After 30 years of willful neglect, the City abruptly declared that the old Lyric Theater would have to be demolished as it was posing a public safety risk. Community members pushed back and convinced the powers that be that part of the theater should and could be saved. Some of the artwork displayed in the building’s windows has been removed while the structure is secured for the winter. There are plans for the art to be displayed publicly.
- Lights and Ice Skating: For a solid two months, people have been reading a lot about the ice rink and lights in Bushnell Park. It’s great to see so many people enjoying themselves downtown. If you are able-bodied, in the area, and have not done at least one lap around the rink, you are missing out.
- Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice conference: Eye-opening facts about the aftermath of the BP/Gulf Coast oil spill were shared by one of the keynote speakers; the theme of this year’s conference was oil.
- Endangered MDC Recreation Area: Don’t mess with Texas and don’t mess with people’s access to a place to walk and bike away from motorized vehicles.
- Rail and Transportation Initiatives: It seemed like there was a public hearing about transportation every week. Trains, buses, trolleys, bicycles, and pedestrians all received attention after these forms of transportation played second fiddle for so long to the private automobile.
- Political Candidates: For all that I have read about voter apathy, I have not seen so much evidence of that here. I’m not one to kiss-and-tell about exact numbers, but I’d rank this topic in the top three for things people read about on Real Hartford.
- Cupcakes: 2010 was the Year of the Cupcake in Hartford. Icing began supplying La Paloma Sabanera regularly with utterly indulgent cupcakes and The Cupcake Brake began appearing in different locations, mainly downtown. Although I have a preference, I encourage cupcake fans to do a taste comparison.
- Urban Renewal and Development: Those not preoccupied with hatin’ have been coming up with some interesting ideas about which direction(s) the city should take in the next few years. There have been numerous meetings about downtown and the neighborhoods; every meeting included some acknowledgment that massive errors have been made regarding infrastructure.
- Frog Hollow in Photos: I remember the day that I had gone out to take the first round of photos. It was bitterly cold and I was on foot. Some like to take awhile to get acquainted with their surroundings. I dive in. I’ve said it dozens of times, but the best way to know a place is not speeding through it at 70 miles per hour. A surprising number of people want to know about this neighborhood, though many have searches containing other words like “violence,” “gangs,” and “ghetto.” Well, I have been here for nearly a year now and have yet to see a gun (and I walk past Burns almost daily) or a gang, though the poverty is something that is not arguable.
Thanks for reading! What kinds of stories and topics would you be interested in reading about during 2011?