commentary/editorial

Meet Your City: Instead of Brunch

Venue for a dance party and happy hour

It’s an unpopular opinion, I know. But everything — from the overpriced meals that could be easily made at home, to the stomach-turning portmanteau itself — is irksome.

This isn’t really about brunch, but what this activity shares with various others: a trendy experience that typically tries too hard to be polished while failing to deliver half the fun that could be had if everyone allowed for more rough edges.

So, instead of fretting over whether or not the kids-these-days will be entertained without rows of nightclubs downtown or bi-weekly parades, we could look at what Hartford does have. Namely: (more…)

Meet Your City: It’s Autumn. What Now?

Why live in New England if you aren’t even going to try to do some seasonal things? That does not mean getting “dressed like a fashion blogger” and creating staged moments for Instagram. Here are a few suggestions:

Night Fall
This is a free, annual outdoor performance that marks the change in seasons. It rotates to a different Hartford park each year and is one of those true community events where the hours before the show are as much about socializing with friends and neighbors as they are about buying snacks and claiming your blanket space. I’m going to go right ahead and take a guess that after the horrors in Vegas over the weekend, we can all benefit from more time connecting with others. There is dancing and giant puppets. It may look like an event for children on the surface, but I would not go so far as to categorize it that way. If you are an adult showing up without kids, you won’t be looked at as a creeper. Night Fall is in Bushnell Park on October 7 this year.

Elizabeth Park

Get a chaider
Kick those basic seasonal beverages to the curb. (more…)

Meet Your City: Parades of Yore

Connecticut Veterans Parade, 2011

Today, everything is expected on demand — from ordering groceries online to binge-watching television shows to whatever Tinder is. So, why should it come as a surprise that few want to wait for the entertainment to make its way to them?  Parades can be frustratingly slow and unpredictable in pacing, often taking place during uncomfortable weather.

And anyway, cities are about change, not stagnation. Right? Interests change. Demographics change. Someone finally gets smart and decides it is no longer appropriate to subsidize parades with tax dollars.

Those that had been struggling to draw any crowd of note in recent years would do well to take a time out and reassess if this the current incarnation of the event is worth the time, trouble, and money. (more…)

Meet Your City: Indoors Walking Tours

Stowe Center

 

Connecticut Historical Society

At the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Asylum Avenue, this building houses a museum and research library.  Regular exhibit tours are offered, plus the occasional Secrets of the Veeder House Tour and Behind-The-Scenes Tour to see items not currently on display, such as a mitten belonging to Leatherman. (more…)

Meet Your City: Outdoors Walking Tours

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch

 

What’s included: Informational tours that take place outside on a recurring basis and involve walking as the primary mode of movement.

What’s not: Tours that have you sitting on a bus, boat, or bicycle; tours that are (probably or definitely) on hiatus; tours that are only self-guided; general walks; private tours that require your membership for participation; campus tours intended to attract students. (more…)

Meet Your City: Flower Gardens

Constitution Plaza

 

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. (more…)

Meet Your City: Peace & Quiet

from along the North Branch Park River

 

Everything is relative, but even in places like Alaska, you can catch the sounds of construction in the dead of the night. Unless you’ve soundproofed a room, you’re never going to get silence in Hartford. There are some places that are quieter than others, where the sounds present are primarily natural. (more…)

Meet Your City: Square Pegs

This week, we are going to take a look at some of the off-kilter things that help give Hartford character. If anything has been overlooked, let us know about it in the comment section (read comment policy before posting).

Little Free Libraries

A brand new library on Oxford Street

Hartford has a number of brick-and-mortar libraries, between Hartford Public Library’s main building and branches, and those inside of the universities and colleges. We also have a bunch of Little Free Library boxes, with a new one opening on Oxford Street within the last week. In areas where there are no library branches, these honor system libraries can fill a gap. We’ve seen three in person — Oxford Street, Charter Oak Cultural Center, and TrinfoCafe — and have heard rumor of at least four others within city limits. On Laurel Street, there is a Little Free Pantry. (more…)