Constitution Plaza around the Boat Building
When the Festival of Lights almost completely vanished from Constitution Plaza, it was hard for me to see why anyone was too upset by what I considered to be an act of putting lipstick on a pig. That is, if the pig were made of concrete and had a far less charming personality.
Then, in 2013, signs of life returned to a significant section of the plaza around the Phoenix building. Large sections of underused space on the plaza’s hardscape/the Phoenix building’s first floor roof were swapped for a mosaic of vegetation.
Besides looking pretty, an added benefit is that the gardens make this part of the plaza seem less lonely.
Constitution Plaza’s north side, near City offices, could be improved by following this example.
Elizabeth Park is hardly an unknown. It is underappreciated. Proof is in a visit during Rose Weekend when few people could be seen exploring anything much beyond the Rose Garden and Pond House area. This meant few saw the Heritage Rose Garden, Shade Garden, or paths through wooded areas of the park. That’s their loss.
When Bear’s was on Arch Street, the addition of picnic tables, gardens, and a mural gave character to one end of a building that finds itself wedged between a surface parking lot, an overbuilt boulevard, and a highway. Bear’s moved one block over and was replaced by Blind Pig, another enterprise by the same owner. The lovely outdoor features remained. If you are walking down Columbus Boulevard, this is a welcome burst of nature and color.
Connecticut Science Center Rooftop Garden
It’s a shame that Hartford has so few rooftop gardens. They help insulate buildings and improve air quality, important in a city with such a high rate of asthma among children.
The garden at the Connecticut Science Center is accessed by taking an elevator to the building’s top floor, then exiting when weather permits. You’ll find binoculars (not coin-operated) for viewing eastern Connecticut, signs explaining the garden’s plantings, and a few large lawn ornaments.
St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church
There is a sunken green space around the church which is easy to miss if you are someone who does not look up or down when you walk around. Go to the Church Street side of the building and look for the gate to the left of the building. It’s open sometimes. Even if it’s closed, you can view most of it if you know to look for it.
Butler-McCook House & Garden
Tucked behind the bright yellow house at the intersection of Main Street and Capitol Avenue, you can view the garden from Pulaski Mall or by simply walking through the gate. You do not have to pay admission to walk on the grounds. There have been outdoor performances here in the past.
Bonus: Weston Street Post Office
Not gardens exactly, but flowers planted in old mailboxes.