Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

MichaelQReilly

Bushnell Park

15 posts in this topic

I was thinking about it the other day, and I came to the conclusion that Bushnell Park is missing something. Compared to other city parks like Central Park or Boston Common, it just doesn't feel the same. I realize that its not nearly as large as either of these parks, but in reality it has quite a bit in common with them. It was designed in the same style, is centrally located, is filled with attractions, and is visually stunning. Still something feels missing.

Then it hit me. Despite the fact that the park is right in the middle of the city, Bushnell Park is almost completely cut off from it. Compared to Central Park and Boston Common, which effortlessly intergrate with the city, one almost has to make an effort to get to Bushnell Park.

Lets look at this more closely. Here is a link to a map of Bushnell Park:

http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?count...esubmit=Get+Map.

On almost every side, there is some sort of obstacle that prevents the cityscape from directly abutting the park. On the northwest side of the park, there is 84 and the train tracks.

Going clockwise around the park, there is a brief stretch between the Train Station and High Street where the park is directly aross Asylum from the city, but because of the close proximity of the 84 on/off ramp, traffic volume prevents this from being a decent access point.

Ford Street, between Assylum and Pearl should be a tremendous location for interaction between the city and the Park, but of course this block is currently one giant parking lot with no plans for infill.

Continuing onto Jewell Street between Pearl and Ann Streets is an area that, again, should be a premier location. Here, unfortunately, sits a currently unused exemplar of everyones favorite architectural style, 60's-70's brutalism, the YMCA building. Like its stylistic brethern, this building is completely non-functional and does not interact with the city's streetscape, and thus another prime chance for the city and the park to meld is wasted. To my knowledge, there are still plans on the board for Northland to develop this site into a residential tower, but with the recent softening of the downtown housing market, its anybody's guess when this project will ever get built.

Jewell Street's next block, between Ann and Trumbull is one of the better blocks on the north side of the park. 55 Park is a great residential building. The only drawback, however, is the parking lot behind it that takes valuable park frontage.

Across Tumbull street, on the block between Trumbull and Bushnell Plaza is another pretty good location. The new Trumbull on park building is a good addition that really helps increase the city's interaction with the park. The area between the two aforementioned buildings makes a nice little square and is probably one of the best places where the city and park interact on its north side.

This area is detracted from, however, by Columbus Circle, which is directly to it's south. The circle itself has the potential to be a pretty neat place. The problem is that it is severly hampered by several large problems. The first is that the circle serves as a feeder for the Whitehead Highway. This means that it is pretty flooded with traffic and as a result is hostile to pedestrians. Another problem is Bushnell Towers. I don't care how well regarded I.M. Pei is, this is another building that is completely non-functional in its interaction with the streetscape. It creates another key area where the city could interact with the park but does not. (On a note unrelated to this thread, the plaza that belongs to this building is a disgrace and horribly detracts from Main Street and the Wadsworth.) The third problem with this area is the parking lot that is on the south side of the cirlce. This is somwhat redeemed by the building on the corner of the cirlce and Elm, which is a great example of the potential of the area. In final analysis, Pulaski Circle is frustrating because it could potentially serve as an extension of the park. It could be a focal point that brings many of the city's streets into the park. Instead, it serves almost the exact opposite purpose as currently configured.

Elm Steet between Pulaski Circle and Trinity Street is unquestionalby the bese example of the interaction between city and park in Hartford. With the exception a small lot on the corner of West Street, Elm is an unbroken streetscape of buildings. The street and the park flow togeter into an easy communion. If there is one downfall to this area, it is that the buildings along the street are probably a bit underutilized, and as a result doesn't expose nearly as many people to the park as they potentially could. This problem is accentuated by the fact that the next street over from Elm, Capitol Avenue, is a parking lot on both sides for the entire length that it is concurent with Elm, excepting the Bushnell Theater. This serves to effectively cut Elm off from the city to the south and contributes to its underutilization.

On the other end of Trinity from Elm, the street intersects with Capitol Avenue. Here are the State Supreme Court and the State Capitol building. These structures, while beautiful, don't really create much foot traffic and due to thier size, the wideness of Capitol Ave. here, and the presence of the 84 onramp directly to their west, have the effect of, again, segregating the rest of the city from the park.

That completes the circuit of Bushnell Park. I hope I've articulated coherrently why I believe the Park is, in effect, cut off from the city, preventing it from having the feel of other great downtown parks. What I propose to remedy this situation is the formation of a group, much like Riverfront Recapture, that can work to advance the agenda of reconnecting the city to its premier park. If anyone would like to contribute to this effort, please feel free to email me at [email protected] I don't know myself how much I could contribute to this cause. I myself am a poor law student who has zero conections to anyone of importance in the city or the state. In the short-term I suppose we could create a web site and try and contact some of the city's power brokers like politicians, developers, and CEO's. I'm sure that other community groups could serve as potential allies. At this point, its only a germ of an idea, but so was riverfront recapture 30 years ago. In every city that has a park like Bushnell the real estate across from the park is some of the most expensive in the city. There is a reason for this. Hopefully we can lead the way to a situation like that in Hartford. Everyone, give me feedback.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Very solid hypothesis'. It would be great to better utilize the area. Good luck with the power brokers, I'm thinking if there's nothing in it for them, they don't care. The trick is getting something in it for them...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In the short-term I suppose we could create a web site and try and contact some of the city's power brokers like politicians, developers, and CEO's. I'm sure that other community groups could serve as potential allies. At this point, its only a germ of an idea, but so was riverfront recapture 30 years ago. In every city that has a park like Bushnell the real estate across from the park is some of the most expensive in the city. There is a reason for this. Hopefully we can lead the way to a situation like that in Hartford. Everyone, give me feedback.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe Bill Mocarsky can re-post his drawing of a revamped Bushnell Park north side (and maybe continue the idea all the way around?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually now that I think about it, my call to action may have been a tad over-hasty. Based on my above analysis, the single biggest thing that would need to happen to improve Bushnell Park would be urban infill. There have been many threads about this and in the end is probably a function of economic demand more than anything.

The other thing that could really help the park would be the reconfiguration of roads around it. This is potentially something that a policy group could accomplish. But it doesn't have one galvinizing issue like building a platform over a highway that Riverfront Recapture did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If we have enough people live within walking distant to the park, then I don't think it will be as under utilize as it is now. Central Park is also surrounded by pedestrian unfriendly obstacles and fast moving traffic, but it seems to have not suffered from those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If we have enough people live within walking distant to the park, then I don't think it will be as under utilize as it is now. Central Park is also surrounded by pedestrian unfriendly obstacles and fast moving traffic, but it seems to have not suffered from those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Michael,

Bushnell Park should and could be what The Boston Common is to Boston.

The Boston Common is much more than a "downtown" park.

It is the common focal point to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Back Bay, Beacon Hill and Downtown Boston all meet at the Common.

I believe that Bushnell Park has the same potential as the Boston Common. It could become the common focal point to Asylum Hill, the Capitol Area and downtown combined.

However, Bushnell Park is usually perceived as a "downtown" park partly due to the fact that it (as well as downtown) is walled in from surrounding neighborhoods.

Along the east side of the park there are some lots that could be built up. Future waves of development should infill these parcels.

When you walk far enough into the west side of the park, there is a feeling of walking into a corner.

The west side of the park and surrounding areas need a cohesive plan. More people than you might think are talking about it. Your call to action is not too soon. It will be crucial to be ahead of the curve on studies such as DOT's proposal to rehab the I-84 viaduct.

Here is a list of some projects/studies that will affect the areas around Bushnell Park. I would imagine that all these projects would all have an affect on each other as well.

Hartford 2010 (Asylum and Farmington Avenue trident)

Farmington Avenue Alliance

Aetna viaduct reconstruction study

Union Station area transportation study (busway and interstate ramps)

SODO

Here are a couple of pictures with some conceptions superimposed.

View from Capitol steps looking northwest towards the Hartford Fire insurance company building on Asylum Hill.

capitolnw7.jpg

mockup2.jpg

The Capitol from the back of the Armory

parkriverold.jpg

parkrivernew.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michael,

Bushnell Park should and could be what The Boston Common is to Boston.

The Boston Common is much more than a "downtown" park.

It is the common focal point to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Back Bay, Beacon Hill and Downtown Boston all meet at the Common.

I believe that Bushnell Park has the same potential as the Boston Common. It could become the common focal point to Asylum Hill, the Capitol Area and downtown combined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think you hit the nail on the head here. Right now, for various reasons, Bushnell Park is seperated from the neighborhoods. The reason it doesn't have that "Commons" kind of feel is that the park can't pull the neighborhoods into it. To me this is probably a planning issue more than anything. Infill, hopefully, will happen around the park as it becomes economically viable. But even if/when that happens, the street/highway grid need to be modified so that they aren't an impediment to pedestrians entering the park. IMHO, that is biggest role that an advocacy group could potentially play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It all stems from:

1) The original lack of connectors between 84 and 91 and

2) This dopey plan to link them by tunneling the Whitehead under the park:

http://www.kurumi.com/roads/ct/i484.html

Now that the 84/91 connections are complete, why not do away with the Whtehead and the 84 on/off ramps completely?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This quote made me think about the Whitehead Hgwy. Is it still really necessary? I know there has been talk in the past of getting rid of it, but isn't it really the only way to access downtown off of 91 North and South?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You could just end it at Columbus or Prospect from 91 - there's plenty of other access within a short distance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.