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CTnative4444

My Nine Pillars for 2015 -making Hartford a world class city (long)

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I read an old article today that got me thinking about the future of Hartford. The article spoke on the fact that Hartford wasn't a good city for the 25-34 age range to move to, due to a lack of new good paying jobs, public transportation, cost of living, and the fact that too many people lived in the suburbs. It also got me thinking about what it would take to have Hartford become a city that people wanted to move to. I looked into what the "formula" of a great/ strong city was and I noticed something. It might be only my opinion, but I realized that all the pictures of Hartford made it out to be pretty bland. The was no zest or flavor, which to me seemed off because of the large Latin population in the area. There is nothing that reaches out to the people and gains their attention to WANT to live in Hartford. All major cites have that, which made me wonder if it would ever be possible to turn the tide and have Hartford be on the list of go-to destinations. What would it take? What measures would we as a state have to go through to make that happen? Is it even possible? Please reply your thoughts.....

Edited by CTnative4444

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CT Native, this probably belongs as its own topic....

 

 

 

Id argue that Hartford will never be a major city again because of its location between 2 major cities.  We will always be an alternate market...

 

That being said this topic is likely to bring up the political comments from others about taxes and labor laws and  jobs and yad yada yada

 

 

so be warned LOL

 

 

To be a destination city in a colder climate, there is one common denominator.

MASS TRANSIT

more importantly RAIL

 

People want to be able to stay out late and socialize without having to drive or pay 50 bucks for a taxi

 

Walkability is the other big hitter

 

 

True mass transit is not likely here for a long while.  even the commuter rail will only be a limited improvement here.  the kids want a subway and we just are not big enough and we tore up the trollys decades ago.  If we could bring some trollys back... it might help

 

 

Our best chance is walkability

If we continue to expand our downtown with housing and with things to do we will castly improve our urban walkability. 

If we are able to improve this quality faster than other cities, we will move up on the list of interesting places to live...

We are ahead of cities like Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Springfield, Worcester, Great Plains, but there are many others that are equal or better...  New Haven, Providence, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Louisville KY....etc

 

If we are able to improve faster than these "peer cities"  and be perceived to be better places to live and work and party.. then we will be doing pretty well, but its really about improving faster than these already nice places.

 

Id argue that we are actually improving facter in Hartford than New Haven and Providence for at least the last 5 years... Still a long ways to go though because Id say both are likely ahead of Hartford still

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VoR....what are the Domino's that we need to have in place to be great again? I really want to see Hartford thrive like some of these bigger cities. It upsets me to see us get looked over for many opportunities because of our name. Aside from what you mentioned above, any detailed ideas?

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This is my "if I were king" list for city development. It includes residential, entertainment, transportation infrastructure and culture. They are listed in priority order based on impact, achievability and cost.

 

I do not see this as “revitalization” as I believe Hartford is already vital city with numerous assets. Few cities of Hartford's size have it's depth of cultural or historic attractions nor its core of Fortune 500 companies. These projects are meant to take the city to the next level. The goal is to create a vibrant downtown with enough critical mass to propel the city forward for decades.

 

1)  101 Pearl Street renovation. Turning the dead corner at Trumbull and Pearl into apartments would give the city the kind of pedestrian traffic and 24-hour activity that would make Trumbull Street the place to be and would do wonders for image of the city. Trumbull Street has restaurants, retail, apartments, an arena, two theaters within a block, Bushnell Park at one end and the new baseball stadium at the other. In short, it is the type of corridor every city desires, an atmosphere that excites city dwellers and visitors alike. This does not to have to be an “A+” project. A solid “B” creates enough activity to be the catalyst for even more.

 

2)  NoDo. Decades of empty lots to the north of downtown has to end. They are a physical and psychological eye sore. The ballpark can breathe new life into this neighborhood.  Add in Hooker Brewery, a supermarket and apartments and that should provide enough impetus to propel private investment. We’ll know soon enough, if shovels are not in the ground by February 2015, all bets are off.

 

3)  A clean, modern, well run Bradley International Airport.  The airport is the single most important economic engine in the entire state.  It is also the first impression of Hartford for hundreds of thousands of visitors and business people. The good news, the DOT is out. The new private board is a step in the right direction. Its first order of business should be to address the lack of a European connection. A new 21st century terminal would set the right tone.

 

4)  The Sonesta Hotel conversion. This project fixes a 60-year old mistake, the lack of housing at Constitution Plaza. It eliminates the dead zone between downtown and the riverfront.. While in itself, this project does not have the critical mass to support local businesses and amenities, as a first step, hopefully followed by housing on the Broadcast House site and at Front Street, it can help reignite the relationship between the city and the river.

 

5)  Washington- Rochambeau National Park.  One of the most important events in the founding of the United States, the first meeting of the French and American commanders took place at the Hartford State House. They planned the Yorktown Campaign in two meetings, one at 800 Main Street and a second in the Webb Home in Wethersfield. These meetings led to the American victory over the British and secured American independence. In a city filled with historic and cultural treasures, ignoring this seminal moment in American history is a travesty. These sites are among the most meaningful in the nation and deserve national park status and dollars.

 

6)  The conversion of the I-84 aqueduct to a tunnel. The DOT has made this a 20-year process. It expands Bushnell Park to the west adding acres to the downtown park.  It connects downtown to Asylum Hill making the city more walkable and opening areas for commercial and residential development. The plans also call for a parking garage near the train station. While increased parking near the train station seems like a small amenity, would allow more employee parking for west downtown businesses and support the growth of the entertainment district near Union Street.

 

7)  The iQuilt. This is more important as a measure of the private sector and government’s ability to work together than for its impact on the city. Planning and executing this project can serve as catalyst for this partnership. Adding a water feature to Bushnell Park by restoring part of the Park River as part of the Iquilt improves the Bushnell experience immensely.  A ceremonial or grand gate would be another major improvement.

 

8) The Griffin Line. As I have previously mentioned, Bradley International is the single most important economic generator in the state. Connecting downtown to the airport with safe, reliable, fast public transportation makes the city more accessible and gives the airport an easier path to growth.  Whether the Griffin line is high-speed rail transit, which best serves the purpose or is merely an extension of the new bus line, the connection is important.  In addition, a transit corridor between downtown and Bradley would serve to spur economic development in communities all along the line. Development of this corridor would also take some of the pressure off the west of the city by making the north side of the city a more attractive place to live and work.

 

9)  Replacing the XL Center. This arena was built in the early 70s. It is not the profit center it needs to be to compete with newer arenas around the country.  Seating is limited. The concourses are too small. The luxury boxes are too few and misplaced.  The utilities are obsolete. This is a quality of life issue. The venue is the sporting and entertainment locus of the state. When it thrives the city is alive. It’s expensive, so is a big screen TV, everyone still has one.

Edited by beerbeer

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this conversation should probably be move into Beerbeers topic on 9 Pillars which I intend to reply to.

 

But briefly, the biggest thing that COULD make Hartford one of those players would be transit.

 

Currently springfield is not really part of greater Hartford, and truthfully it should be.  efficient mass transit could make that happen.  If the tran between the 2 downtowns was fast and cheep and ran till say 2-3 AM  you would have people experiencing night life in the two cities and possibly living in the other... that would make the community much larger and the distance much smaller.

 

Truly, we need to electrify the tracks between the 2 cities and have something much more frequent than even the planned commuter rail.  Ideally this rail would include a station that serves every improvement helps of course, but for the area to thrive it needs that arless culture to develop.

 

after connecting to springfield, and also, directly to BDL, the next thing needed on this front is simular transportation between the various communities East and Went of Hartford.  This would need to include a few interesting and progressive stops. and to be honest would likely need to be over built and a loss leader for a while to drive the development we want to see.

 

From West to east, I would say it MIGHT need to begin in Downtown New Britain, but it ABSOLUTELY needs to have a West Hartford Center stop, a stop near Sission Ave and one in Asylum Hill near the major employers there.     Then the train station and the old state house serving downtown and the XL Center.

 

The system would need to cross the river and serve Pratt, then the Stadium Manchester community college and untimately downtown Manchester

 

I think that North South transit line should also ideally find a way to serve the meadows music center the capital area offices and Park Street.  not sure how that would be done but you ask for ideals.  Heck, maybe even Dillon Stadium/Coltsville National park

 

 

The resulting transit setup would provide for reasons for people to leave their cars at home.

 

They would be able to go out and stay out and shop and eat and drink after work

commuting is important as is connecting the airport, but for the mentioned communities to begin acting as one vibrant place, we need to eat and drink together :P

 

 

there are many other things needed, but building an extremely expensive transit network that ultimately would be impossible for the area is the best way in my opiion to push Hartford to that "bid deal" kinda status.

 

because in that case, people would stop here just because they could i mean its between a city of 18 million and a city of 6 million...  

we could have folks commuting into either city if the network was good enough

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BB, I am unsure why you have Sonesta on here.  That project is close to completion, I would think it is not really in doubt in any way and therefore you arelly maybe wanna focus on dreaming on 3 CP.

 

I think Sonesta was absolutly a key pillar 2 years ago, now It is in the bag just like 777 Main which is likely a more important piece to the vitality of Hartford

 

 

 

I think many of the other items you have on the list are also pretty good and pretty far along.

I am concerned about 101-111 Pearl though and agree on your comments.  The plan that is out there now would be honestly perfect... but the silence is deafening

 

I also think the current plan for NoDo is suffieient and will go a long way to make the city feel like a regular mid sized vital place.  my concern is the 2020 timeline... its stretched out, and I hope those pieces either accelerate or evolve to become larger projects due to overwhelming success early in.

 

I think the BDL terminal is also pretty likely a done deal eventually

Heck I figure we will also do something with the XL center and also I-84

 

so really on your list the 2 things that dont have any plans.. or any good plans are Griffen line and the Rochambeau park

 

 

I would be curious to read more about what you would do for that national park?  the old statehouse is certainly a worthy site for this purpose, but also for the Amistad Trials and of course the Charger Oak.

 

in many ways I think this site could and should resemble Independence hal and the liberty bell site in Philly

 

what would be the best treatment in your eyes?

 

 

 

 

 

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I read an old article today that got me thinking about the future of Hartford. The article spoke on the fact that Hartford wasn't a good city for the 25-34 age range to move to, due to a lack of new good paying jobs, public transportation, cost of living, and the fact that too many people lived in the suburbs. It also got me thinking about what it would take to have Hartford become a city that people wanted to move to. I looked into what the "formula" of a great/ strong city was and I noticed something. It might be only my opinion, but I realized that all the pictures of Hartford made it out to be pretty bland. The was no zest or flavor, which to me seemed off because of the large Latin population in the area. There is nothing that reaches out to the people and gains their attention to WANT to live in Hartford. All major cites have that, which made me wonder if it would ever be possible to turn the tide and have Hartford be on the list of go-to destinations. What would it take? What measures would we as a state have to go through to make that happen? Is it even possible? Please reply your thoughts.....

 

http://www.citylab.com/work/2014/12/go-to-hartford-young-man/383445/

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I had an interesting conversation with someone in planning and development regarding nightlife. He said if you got the right people behind it, you could create an entertainment zone in Downtown Hartford that would be permitted to serve alcohol and stay open later than the state allows. We started talking about how neighborhoods in New York like Meat Packing District, Chelsea and now the lower East side and places like downtown Miami have virtually been built on nightlife with hospitality, housing and retail following. When downtown Miami was an absolute dump, the city started handing out liquor permits to anyone who wanted them for downtown. Look at it 10 years later.. It rivals South Beach. It would be a tough sell in in a place like Hartford but you would be offering something no one else does except for New York and you immediately make the city more exciting and attractive for young, single professionals. It's not the cure all, but it certainly could be part of the puzzle.

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that is interesting.

 

I can only assume it would require significant effort though.  I mean while I support it, im not sure this could get past all the needed hurdles and NIMBYS

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Relocating Real Art Ways back to downtown would be a huge catalyst for creating an entertainment district. The current location is too isolated. On the other hand, there's really nothing left in the immediate downtown area that could be repurposed for RAW. The only direction would be going south of Front Street: Charter Oak/Coltsville. True entertainment districts are more multilayered than just a collection of bars and restaurants. You need more things to do. Movies, galleries, unique retail, etc. Anyways, I'm a resident of Artspace who will be moving to 777 Main in May/June partly because of its more centralized and walkable location. While not as isolated as RAW, Artspace is a little too cut off from downtown although it does offer the kind of events and buzz that are crucial to an entertainment district's DNA. 

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Welcome to the board Nerv

 

Art space, art ways, any artist community needs to have support.  I think downtown proper is not likely ever supposed to be that space.  an ideal situation would be the commondeering of a neighborhood.  this is what happens in bigger cities, or more established cities anyways.

 

It seems someone kinda tried to move the arts to Parkville, but thats not necessarily ideal.

 

Charter oak could be that place, the issue is that the city or developers kicked the arts commuity outta colt long ago.

 

I truly cant figure out where the best place for the arts community is, but as a community I think we need to be sure to nurture this group and help concentrate their efforts and creativity rather than disburse it.

 

Here is a thought though...

 

I think our most wasted area near downtown is the South Green.

It is surrounded by oversized roads but generally attractive buildings.  it has retail, but the area is absolutely on the mildly sketchy side.  In fact I see a drug deal almost every time I drive by there in warmer months.

 

this triangle is anchored by The Hospital to the West, and downtown to the North... Park Street could be an asset, but its currently all a detractor...

for my money, this south green is literally the most wasted area in the city.

 

problem is it would take more than a rich developer to fix this, it would take a movement... and well, thats what the arts are..

 

If the art community could move into this area and actually call the cops about the crime, the area will improve drasticly

then the hospital folks would start to frequent the area and the retail scene would drasticly improve...

 

there would need to be some money and politics though... a screet scape project is needed and someone needs to put something nice and significant where plaza mayor was going to be... there is some damaged fabric, but its mostly just a cosmetic issue in this area

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I totally agree about the unfortunate wasteland that is South Green. Congress Street was an early attempt to "gentrify" the area but it just never caught on. The homeless shelters and methodone clinic kind of overwhelm the neighborhood. There are lots of beautiful buildings including a vacant parochial school that would be ideal candidates for RAW, another Artspace, or something like PS1 or PS122 in NYC. But other than the ongoing expansion of Hartford Hospital's campus I'm not very optimistic about anything happening in the near future. 

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Im a really optomistic guy as you mostly know and because of that I think most of the things on BBs list are happening...   Im gonna say that with commuter rail and the transit plan, im gonna not worry about transit... Im thinking thats all wrapped up and at some point the new terminal will get built and we will land some sweet flights yada yada... the casino in Springfield of course will be part of the reason why but whatever...

 

I also think we will get a 250 million arena replacement

 

I think this will do something with the church street garage and in total the area from Hartford 21 North to 84 will be greatly improved along both Trumbull and Ann streets...

 

I think this will ultimately affect the Phase 3 of the DONO area and maybe even force that scaled up a bit... I mean it seems possible considering location and the proximity...

 

I think all the proposed and rumored residential will be happening...

 

I dont know what phase 4 at front street will be but im interested...

 

so, here are my pillars... and Ill add some later I bet

 

1:  A new City Hall:   this would be more than a new city hall it would be for all city offices.  Ideally this would be as part of the ballpark plan but Id also be ok with 1000 Main street address.

This pillar includes the current city hall being given to Wadsworth and their expansion into the space...  Call this 2 pillars if you like...

As an office this would make the city more efficient and it would save the city maintenance and energy.. it would be expensive though so Im not sure its a pure finanical win.. its certainly true the city got alot iof years outta the current building though :)

 

2: Expanded Wadsworth:  I consider this important because Wadsworth has an amazing collection and adding city hall would preserve one of the prettiest buildings in Hartford/Connecticut... Heck America...The space looks like an art museum... it screams the need to be a museum... it also would allow the museum to reach its true world class potential.  Maaking the museum big enough to be more than a 1 day visit actually leds to its reputation and in the art world will actually increase visits and tourism to Hartford.  A huge economic generator?? no, but it would be a generator and more importantly it would add panache.

 

3:  1000 Main street.  This lot connects downtown to DONO... it needs to be improved to make the significant investments underway truly synergystic...   LAZ mentioned studying it for redevelopment (after losing out on UCONN) so I bet there is some kind of plan in the works... I can also imagine him redeveloping the associated garage because its CRAP  its falling down and its well located but losing out to Morgan... This location could extend the street wall to 84 and DoNo... Im thinking there would be  a Hotel... I say this because we have had no new hotel rooms is a while... and IF the XL is redone we will need more downtown hotels to attract the big NCAA regionals.  these hotels will also do well in that environment We will see what happens here but its Critical because of these reasons

A Location... 1000 Main is a connector and more visable that most think

B Ownership.. If the parking baron successfully enters development... this could be the first of many LAZ developments

 

4: Park front land...  Something needs to enliven the park... Be it the hilton lot, the YMCA or the AT&T 55 on park surface lot...  Most of the Northern edge of the park are vacant spaces.  this will someday.. without ANY exaduration be the cities most expensive realestate.. something HAS to give.  and the South side of the park needs love too

 

5: On that Subject... CT State labs/Bushnell condo   We will what this is if anything but Id love to see some high end residential in this area as it has super potential...it would lead to other developments and general enhancement to the park area in general

 

 

6: State office/Garage The bushnell.   they are doing a study.. they are considering a huge garage wrapped in housing and retail... can I say amazinng?  or is it nothing?

 

 

7: The redesigned rail and 84 viaducts need mention... i know I wasnt gonna but DAMN I mean if they do whats planned there is such a massive massive change to the city.   connecting asylum hill and essentially burying tracks and highway will allow for the western edge of the park to be simple an entire new neighborhood and thats cool. 

 

ill pause here

Edited by The Voice of Reason

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2: Expanded Wadsworth:  I consider this important because Wadsworth has an amazing collection and adding city hall would preserve one of the prettiest buildings in Hartford/Connecticut... Heck America...The space looks like an art museum... it screams the need to be a museum... it also would allow the museum to reach its true world class potential.  Maaking the museum big enough to be more than a 1 day visit actually leds to its reputation and in the art world will actually increase visits and tourism to Hartford.  A huge economic generator?? no, but it would be a generator and more importantly it would add panache.

 

 

This idea has been talked about for decades. The Atheneum collection is close to 50,000 works and the current museum only allows them to exhibit a few thousand. The expansion would allow this world class facility to really shine. City Hall would be a perfect venue to view some of the many masterpieces the musuem owns.

 

 

Which leads me to an idea I had some years ago.  The Pequot Museum is another top notch facility but it is wasted, hidden behind a casino in Ledyard. It would make a tremendous addition to the Wadsworth, Science Museum, Colt Building, State House, attractions downtown. I'm sure there are many problems with this idea becoming a reality not the least of which is creating an appropropriate building.  But it is an impressive place to visit without the kiddie feeling of the science museum.

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The political museum which was housed at U of H has been in storage for years. It has no home and is a pretty impressive collection.

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Well you guys may recall my dream idea... The New England Museum of History

 

aka NEMOH

take all these tiny kinda kidden almost useless museums.. and get their gems seen.   philantropy as economic development.

 

I bwant it house in the CT Armory though after the highways is rebuilt that would be a great location.

 

I have a whole thread on here somewhere

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here it is

 

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php/topic/44051-connecticut-museum-of-history

 

take this plan and add it to the highway redesign.

 

you end up with a world class museum in A great location chillin near a park

 

looking at this rending from the HUB project you see how the back of the armory could easily become the front in the future with appropriate development.

 

 

hub_excerpts1-e1382995546205.png

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I decided I want to go through all the ideas in here, organize em, and the re-post..

 

Obviously it may be tainted by my brain, but Ill try and keep your ideas an intentions intact.

 

Also, Im just removing the things that my most pesimistic mind cant see going wrong(sonesta hotel as example)... its a done deal

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I would like all of those ideas, here's mine...

1) The Soccer Hall of Fame next to The Cricket Hall of Fame. The two would have playing pitches for tournaments. It would be great to advertise all 4 hall of games in the CT valley - the most famous is Basketball, but Holyoke has volleyball and we can have cricket and soccer.

2)For East Hartford would be this: A new building for the unknown Edward King Museum of Aircraft and Tobacco, which is upstairs at Raymond Library. On the grounds would be statues of famous aviators, maybe an Aviators Hall of Fame.

3) Commuter rail from Waterbury east to Willimantic, which would connect with the Central Rail CCorridor, the planned commuter rail on the NEC.

4)Another Hall of Fame honoring Sam Colt... a Gunslingers Hall of Fame...

Comments?

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I would like all of those ideas, here's mine...

1) The Soccer Hall of Fame next to The Cricket Hall of Fame. The two would have playing pitches for tournaments. It would be great to advertise all 4 hall of games in the CT valley - the most famous is Basketball, but Holyoke has volleyball and we can have cricket and soccer.

2)For East Hartford would be this: A new building for the unknown Edward King Museum of Aircraft and Tobacco, which is upstairs at Raymond Library. On the grounds would be statues of famous aviators, maybe an Aviators Hall of Fame.

3) Commuter rail from Waterbury east to Willimantic, which would connect with the Central Rail CCorridor, the planned commuter rail on the NEC.

4)Another Hall of Fame honoring Sam Colt... a Gunslingers Hall of Fame...

Comments?

Jim,    I love that #1

 

I'd take your number 2 and maybe combine it with the New England Air museum... Possibly at Rentschler field

 

4 would never happen as it glorifies violence yada yada yada... BUT IT WOULD BE AWESOME!!!!

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I would like all of those ideas, here's mine...

1) The Soccer Hall of Fame next to The Cricket Hall of Fame. The two would have playing pitches for tournaments. It would be great to advertise all 4 hall of games in the CT valley - the most famous is Basketball, but Holyoke has volleyball and we can have cricket and soccer.

2)For East Hartford would be this: A new building for the unknown Edward King Museum of Aircraft and Tobacco, which is upstairs at Raymond Library. On the grounds would be statues of famous aviators, maybe an Aviators Hall of Fame.

3) Commuter rail from Waterbury east to Willimantic, which would connect with the Central Rail CCorridor, the planned commuter rail on the NEC.

4)Another Hall of Fame honoring Sam Colt... a Gunslingers Hall of Fame...

Comments?

 

With National Park designation near for the Colt Armory, the #4 ideas might be a nice way to make the site more of an attraction.  Obviously there should be a major Colt gun exhibition on the site (I suggest combining the Atheneum and state collections and exhibiting them together).  But the gun slinging idea might make an exciting way to show how the Colt influenced the settling of the West. 

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I suppose it could be a section of the colt museum... the issue though... is there any way top get remmington onboard also?

 

I mean, we have remington, winchester, springfield etc...

 

They could all have annexes as the museum

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Yes, Winchester, Marlin, Springfield and S&W along with Remington.

Also, How about a bicycle museum/hall of fame? We should be proud that Columbia (Pope Manufacturing) built bikes in Hartford.

Also, how about an antique auto museum featuring cars built in the Hartford area..(Pope-Hartford, Charter Oak, Corbin)

If not an antique auto..a museum of Hartford made products...from Underwood typewriters to Pope Hartford to A1 and Fuller Brush.

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