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Carter711

Connecticut's Cities

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A disproportionate number of New England's biggest cities are in Connecticut - 5 of NE's top ten. Which ones are in the best shape? Worst shape? Where is most of the development going? Where is there a strong urban feel with a city government that is relatively efficient, and non-corrupt? What ones have manageable crime, reasonable taxes, and schools you'd let your kids attend? Throw this all together to rank them in order of best shape to worst.

The cities (in no particular order)

New Haven

Bridgeport

Hartford

Waterbury

Stamford

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Wow, that's a loaded question. The city in the best shape is Stamford by far, but I'm not sure I'd call it the best overall. Bridgeport is probably the worst, it does the least with potentially the most. The new ballpark/arena is nice, but it's in an awesome spot and should really be thriving, while it isn't. It's downtown is in shambles, they've had the same signs about "revitilizing downtown" for a decade on about 10 buildings. I haven't been to downtown in a year now, so maybe it's changed, but I doubt it. All the cities have their awesome areas. Hartford has the Upper West End where Governor's Row is and along Scarborough where Barbara Kennelly lives. Bridgeport has Black Rock which is some of the most gorgeous views of the Sound that you'll see.

New Haven and Hartford vie for the best nightlife, I enjoy them both, I like Hartford better maybe because it's more of a home town advantage, though I know both cities very well. Waterbury has a few nice places too, but it always was very confusing to me, but it does house the best record shops (sorry New Haven) in Phoenix and Brass City. All the cities have their fair share (or more) of dumps, even Stamford. Hartford and New Haven have the lions share of the Arts, though every single city has nice places to go see plays or shows. New Haven obviously blows everyone away with Yale University, but Hartford has some good schools, and Stamford and Waterbury have their own branch of UCONN, though Hartford boasts the Law School.

I guess it depends what you are looking, of the 5, Waterbury and Bridgeport are generally regarded as the pits, Stamford is the richest with large Corporations, New Haven has the education and nightlife, and Hartford is the Government mecca with good nightlife, many Corporations and a large art community....

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while this question is quite questionable... here's my opinion on the topic.

all CT's cities have great potential and some are starting to meet that potential, while some are not. this list is not in any particular order.

bridgeport - it's a dump, but it has potential. if ganim wasn't thinking about himself more than he was the city, it would be in better shape. he start to clean house, but then ended up getting in a rut. now he shares a cell with former providence mayor, buddy cianci. the guy who took over did a pretty good job, but was left with little to work with. it's gonna take a lot of work to really clean bridgeport up and make the most of what they have (and they have quite a bit). the mixed use of the waterfront is pretty nice with the industry and then seaside park. downtown is the pits. the black rock area is the only area that really seems to have anything going for it with some nightlife and restaurants.

stamford - making the most of what they have. i wouldn't be surprised if stamford bypasses hartford's corporate presence. their close proximity to NYC is very helpful and it's becoming a nice bedroom community. but it lacks the nightlife and culture that other major cities have (unless you go to south norwalk for the nightlife). i wouldn't be surprised if stamford becomes the new biggest in CT at some point.

new haven - what can i say? i love new haven and i've made that clear here before. what it lacks in corporate presence, it has in yale. while yale does own most of downtown, it's also one of the largest employers in the entire state. it has done a lot for new haven, but it got a lot of help from destefano who can be credited with bringing new haven back from the dumps. it's certainly the educational and research mecca of the state and with medicine and biotech being the "next big thing" it will be good for new haven. the nightlife is great and the music scene is pretty good with toad's. yale's also not the only college in new haven. SCSU, albertus magnus, and gateway CC are all in new haven, with quinnipiac and UNH not far.

waterbury - i haven't spent much time in waterbury, i only know it for the reputation of being a good place to get drugs. it has a lot of potential, but needs a lot of work as well. having the mayor arrested for being a pedophile doesn't help either.

hartford - i've never been a huge fan of hartford, but i've always admired the sky line when driving to and from uconn. i've spent some time in hartford for concerts and clubs and shows. it's been a couple years since i spent any time there, but here's what i think. it has a lot of potential. the downtown area is dead at night except around the hartford stage. all the nightlife is in this small 1-2 block area and around that area is surface lots and the train station. i'm not a fan of surface lots, they have no place in a city core. i've also found the train station area difficult to navigate. that shouldn't be the case. it should be easily accessible and easy in/out, but it gets quite congested. and then there's the intersection mentioned in the roundabout thread. that intersection is the worst introduction to hartford when you get off the exit. it's so confusing. that being said, hartford has a lot of potential. it obviously has the corporate presence a lot of similar cities would want, but it lacks in other areas. it needs something to make it a destination for people to visit. providence is known around the country for waterfire and brown. new haven is known for yale. hartford needs something. and once it gets that, i bet more people will realize the beauty of hartford. it also needs some cleaning up and, quite honestly, hartford is known for crime from people i've spoken with who are not familiar with it. it just needs a new image and when that happens, i'm sure hartford will be in a better position.

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Everyone has made valid observations so far and here's what I will add.

Hartford - Has the most potential of any city in the state. It's the only large metropolitan CT city with it's own metro area completely independant of NYC's infuence. Hartford is the identity of CT and needs to market itself as such to the entire state. We are CT's capital city here for all to enjoy. We just need some more higher profile enjoyable stuff, e.g. Science Center, Front Street, Arena, Colt National Park and the like to get people interested again. We already are the only city/region that draws from the entire state and beyond for events such as concerts and sporting events (excluding the Casinos). We need to build on that.

New Haven - Is the cultural center of CT thanks to Yale. They have done a wonderful job building on that and getting Downtown in great shape. They have also fixed a lot of the neighborhoods up in appearance and the city is overall pleasant and pretty happening. They need to work on the corporate base and try to build on their growing bio tech industry.

Stamford - Becoming the business powerhouse of the state. I hate to say that, being from Hartford, but it's true. Stamford has tons of land still undeveloped and really has unlimited potential. The only thing that will keep them from ever becoming a true desination is NYC. They are helped and both doomed by that situation. They will be the largest city in CT one day, but still will only be a NYC suburb. That's OK though and they just need to build on that. They do need to focus on creating whatever independent identity they can.

Bridgeport - Tons of potential. Could easily become the yin to Stamford's yang in Fairfield County. They could serve a more artsy, young professional, and working class city being an affordable alternative to Stamford with plenty of lifestyle choices to make anyone happy.

Waterbury - That's a tough one. I kind of like Waterbury, but only because I know some people from there. I does rack your brain a little to try to think of reasons why people would really start visiting or moving there. They need to do something. Maybe some new housing options/ retail options could entice people in some parts of New Haven and Hartford county to look at Waterbury as a cheaper urban alternative to those 2. I think before that works though Hartford and New Haven must become highly desirable to the point where the urban lifestyle is in fasion in this area.

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Waterbury has a reputation that really precedes it - maybe the worst reputation in New England, largely b/c of that whole corruption issue. I drove through Waterbury last year, and was actually pretty impressed with it. Theres some really impressive architecture and a nice park downtown. It really didn't have the appearance of being very dumpy much at all, but maybe due to its reputation the bar is set kind of low so it's easy to be impressed by Waterbury.

At the sign of the cross, a city in transition

http://www.explorenewengland.com/travel?ar...y_in_transition

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I have to disagree with a few of runawayjim's statements. First is, Stamford will never become Connecticut's biggest, it does not have the land. The area is pretty much built-out, however it is a great city. The real boom will probably be Bridgeport. Although no City/Town in New england is really going to experience significant growth anytime soon. We are not the South or West/Midwest with large areas of cheap open space to build on. Redevelopment is our key to growth, which Bridgeport/New Haven and Hartford are all experiencing. Stamford is not one of those that needs much. They are pretty happy with the status quo down there.

As for Hartford, I really believe it is in it's Rennesaince and see it every day, yes the nightlife use to be in a small block to 2 block area, but it know stretches all the way back to Main Street. With bars/clubs along Asylum, Pratt Street and Main, eventually stretching to Front street. I don't think Hartford will be known for one particular thing except for a city with great history, and if a few of the problems such as schools and crime are solved the potential for a great future.

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I have to disagree with a few of runawayjim's statements. First is, Stamford will never become Connecticut's biggest, it does not have the land. The area is pretty much built-out, however it is a great city. The real boom will probably be Bridgeport. Although no City/Town in New england is really going to experience significant growth anytime soon. We are not the South or West/Midwest with large areas of cheap open space to build on. Redevelopment is our key to growth, which Bridgeport/New Haven and Hartford are all experiencing. Stamford is not one of those that needs much. They are pretty happy with the status quo down there.

As for Hartford, I really believe it is in it's Rennesaince and see it every day, yes the nightlife use to be in a small block to 2 block area, but it know stretches all the way back to Main Street. With bars/clubs along Asylum, Pratt Street and Main, eventually stretching to Front street. I don't think Hartford will be known for one particular thing except for a city with great history, and if a few of the problems such as schools and crime are solved the potential for a great future.

providence is 1 sq mile bigger than hartford and has had populations near 250k. i wouldn't call the new england cities done and stagnant as far as population growth considering that providence once held a quarter million less than 100 years ago.

no, our cities are not huge in area, but they can be built up. the reason stamford won't grow hugely is not because of lack of land area, but more because lots of that land area is taken up by suburban-esque neighborhoods. but i would not be surprised if stamford does become CT's biggest as people get priced out of new york and make it into a nice bedroom community with very easy access into new york.

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Hartford: I see Hartford as a much improved city. With a huge corperate presence, and a downtown residential building boom, Hartford is indeed on it's way to total revitalization. I can also see Hartford becoming CT's largest city again. Couple this with a beautiful skyline, and Hartford will be a force to be reckon with.

Bridgeport.: Bridgeport seems to be going in it's own revitalization mode, with the arena, ballpark, and other developments. For a city it's size, I am surprized the skyline is not built up more.

New Haven: I see New Haven with a strong business culture, and great nightlife. A lot is attributed I'm sure to Yale. None the less New Haven is going strong, and just keeps growing. I also like the skyline as well.

Stamford: I must say I am very impressed with this city. Even though the skyscrapers are not as big as Hartford's, they are numorous throughout the city. With a strong corperate presence, economically Stamford is strong. As far as becoming the state's largest city, that's a possibility.

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providence is 1 sq mile bigger than hartford and has had populations near 250k. i wouldn't call the new england cities done and stagnant as far as population growth considering that providence once held a quarter million less than 100 years ago.

Providence had a population of 248K as late as 1950 -- and was above 200K in every census from 1910 through 1960.

Worcester was for a long time a city of about 200K as well.

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Population is not neccassarily the key factor in how great a city is. Many small cities do quite well for themselves and have reinvented the way they do business such as Burlington, VT, Portsmouth NH, Portland, Maine and Annapolis, MD.

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Population is not neccassarily the key factor in how great a city is. Many small cities do quite well for themselves and have reinvented the way they do business such as Burlington, VT, Portsmouth NH, Portland, Maine and Annapolis, MD.

i think the reason population gets brought up a lot is because some of the people in the hartford forum think hartford would be greater if it had a larger population. but you are absolutely correct. isn't burlington something like 30k?

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i think the reason population gets brought up a lot is because some of the people in the hartford forum think hartford would be greater if it had a larger population. but you are absolutely correct. isn't burlington something like 30k?

No one said Hartford would be greater. All we ever really say is that it will look better on paper. In layman's terms less scary. There would be no Hartford that's the poorest city in the nation with a high crime rate. That city would no longer exist, on paper at least. We all know the place and the problems would remain. It would be the same great metro area deserving of national praise, however our seat would be a much larger, safer, wealthier city. On Paper of course. That's really the only line of thinking. How much that affects development and such is debatable. I happen to think it has some bearing. Others don't think so.

I happen to totally agree that population is not all that important overall. However population loss is an issue in Hartford since we are very far from our peak population of about 175k I think. I think we all agree that population loss is generally bad while population gain is a sign of good things.

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However population loss is an issue in Hartford since we are very far from our peak population of about 175k I think. I think we all agree that population loss is generally bad while population gain is a sign of good things.

Population loss though was not only prone to Hartford but every city in this country...most cities had their population highs at about the same time Hartford did and started losing population at about the same time Hartford did

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Population loss though was not only prone to Hartford but every city in this country...most cities had their population highs at about the same time Hartford did and started losing population at about the same time Hartford did

i believe boston is slowly losing population... and boston is hardly not doing well. people just can't afford to live there.

population loss occurred everywhere when the whole suburban dream came to fruition. and of course, cars didn't help. i saw an interesting show on the history of the neighborhoods of philadelphia one time when i was down there on a public access channel. it was really interesting to hear how philly started and grew and then fell apart.

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i believe boston is slowly losing population... and boston is hardly not doing well. people just can't afford to live there.

It's always bothered me that cities that seem to be thriving - Portland, Portsmouth, Boston, Burlington are losing population! On the surface it looks like these cities are growing. I guess affordability is probably the main issue, as rents and property values in all these places have gone crazy.

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It's always bothered me that cities that seem to be thriving - Portland, Portsmouth, Boston, Burlington are losing population! On the surface it looks like these cities are growing. I guess affordability is probably the main issue, as rents and property values in all these places have gone crazy.

they're losing population because they're thriving... if that makes any sense.

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My favorite cities in CT have always been New London and New Haven. While New London may be small, they have retained a lot of their housing stock and historical qualities. It is the epitomy of a small New England city with many amenities and diverse in culture. New Haven is also one of my favorites for many of the same reasons but on a slightly larger scale. The proximity and accessibility to NYC also are big pluses coupled with the fact that it has the most vibrant downtown of any NE city over 100K besides Boston. My least favorite city in CT would be Bridgeport for its lack of identity and it resembling a Chernobyl village. It really does look like a bomb exploded there from the downtown all the way to the neighborhoods.Too bad.Stamford,in my opinion, looks like an oversized office park and does not spell city in my vocabulary...but I must confess...I don't really know about the neighborhoods.It may be ugly as sin but the accessibility to NYC is its #1 asset. Hartford has always been misrepresented and misunderstood in my opinion. The city is far from ugly at a distance, but when you get closer, you see how ugly it really is. There is way too much undeveloped land in the city and plenty of room for growth. While there is a lot of good stuff going on downtown, I just didn't see the spillover effect in any of the neighborhoods....( recently visited) So my best vote would be New Haven...worst for Bridgeport...most potential for Hartford( deja vu )

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My favorite cities in CT have always been New London and New Haven. While New London may be small, they have retained a lot of their housing stock and historical qualities. It is the epitomy of a small New England city with many amenities and diverse in culture. New Haven is also one of my favorites for many of the same reasons but on a slightly larger scale. The proximity and accessibility to NYC also are big pluses coupled with the fact that it has the most vibrant downtown of any NE city over 100K besides Boston. My least favorite city in CT would be Bridgeport for its lack of identity and it resembling a Chernobyl village. It really does look like a bomb exploded there from the downtown all the way to the neighborhoods.Too bad.Stamford,in my opinion, looks like an oversized office park and does not spell city in my vocabulary...but I must confess...I don't really know about the neighborhoods.It may be ugly as sin but the accessibility to NYC is its #1 asset. Hartford has always been misrepresented and misunderstood in my opinion. The city is far from ugly at a distance, but when you get closer, you see how ugly it really is. There is way too much undeveloped land in the city and plenty of room for growth. While there is a lot of good stuff going on downtown, I just didn't see the spillover effect in any of the neighborhoods....( recently visited) So my best vote would be New Haven...worst for Bridgeport...most potential for Hartford( deja vu )

stamford looks like a huge office park from the highway. and the downtown area driving through it feels that way. once you leave that area (at least on the eastern side of the city), it's very fairfield county suburban with large lots and big houses. it's not even as urban as elmhurst or mount pleasant in providence (if you can call them urban). that's really the extent i've been through stamford. i've heard it has some bad spots though. but that part of stamford i was in reminded me of westville in new haven. i was there for a job interview across the street from WWE.

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stamford looks like a huge office park from the highway. and the downtown area driving through it feels that way. once you leave that area (at least on the eastern side of the city), it's very fairfield county suburban with large lots and big houses. it's not even as urban as elmhurst or mount pleasant in providence (if you can call them urban). that's really the extent i've been through stamford. i've heard it has some bad spots though. but that part of stamford i was in reminded me of westville in new haven. i was there for a job interview across the street from WWE.

The north end of Stamford (above the merrit) is very suburban.

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The north end of Stamford (above the merrit) is very suburban.

so that probably makes most of stamford very suburban. the part i was talking about was around exit 9 off 95, but south of 95. so it was the southeastern part.

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My Favorite city is Manchester. Even with Buckland Mall, the downtown is nice and look at some of the historical buildings in town. The Bon Ami building is the home of TimeMachine/New England Hobby, and the Cheney Mills/Homestead area.

My least favorite city is Willimantic. Willimantic has potential, with the Eastern Connecticut Railroad Museum and the Thread Museum, but they need to UPGRADE DOWNTOWN. ECSU itseems doesn't help the city.

I'd love to see East Hartford improve. With the Connecticut River at the western end of town, and the Hockanum River (and Lake East Hartford) in the center of town, East Hartford has potential witha diverse population - especially Peaches' - a soulfood restaurant. East Hartford might be a new tourist stop with Cabela's being built and maybe East Hartford should build a museum for the Edward King Museum of Tobacco and Aviation - currently in the upstairs of the Raymond Library. East Hartford has a few nice historical buildings, but they should tell people about the history. Rochambeau and his troops camped in town.

JimS

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I have to disagree with a few of runawayjim's statements. First is, Stamford will never become Connecticut's biggest, it does not have the land. The area is pretty much built-out, however it is a great city. The real boom will probably be Bridgeport. Although no City/Town in New england is really going to experience significant growth anytime soon. We are not the South or West/Midwest with large areas of cheap open space to build on. Redevelopment is our key to growth, which Bridgeport/New Haven and Hartford are all experiencing. Stamford is not one of those that needs much. They are pretty happy with the status quo down there.

As for Hartford, I really believe it is in it's Rennesaince and see it every day, yes the nightlife use to be in a small block to 2 block area, but it know stretches all the way back to Main Street. With bars/clubs along Asylum, Pratt Street and Main, eventually stretching to Front street. I don't think Hartford will be known for one particular thing except for a city with great history, and if a few of the problems such as schools and crime are solved the potential for a great future.

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so that probably makes most of stamford very suburban. the part i was talking about was around exit 9 off 95, but south of 95. so it was the southeastern part.

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Downtown is quite dense, and growing super-fast. It is suburban in some areas, but not "new suburban" like in Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas, Charlotte, etc. It's 1950s suburban mixed in with older than that and newer than that. There's a ton of corporations here, and a lot of office buldings that are very, very dense. Summer Street driving from the northern portion of town into downtown reminds me a lot of Wilshire Boulevard (portions of) in Los Angeles.

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