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The Voice of Reason

Hartford and Tourism

23 posts in this topic

So, I have been thinking about the "easy money" that tourism generates, and was wondering what hartford can do to capture more of that money on a national and international level.

a little quick google searching gave me some info to start with to see the kinds of things people are drawn to inside the US (we are a long way from competing internationally)

Some of the top 25 destinations are a result of being in major destination cities, and some destinations are the reason cities are even on the map(Disney world-Orlando)

But some of the major destinations are in some way attainable concepts.

After removing natural wonders like Niagara Falls, and Unique destinations like Disney and the las vegas strip, Atlantic City Boardwalk, The national mall, here are some of the attainable or semi attainable top tourist destinations

1.Times Square, New York City, N.Y

Times Square, the most bustling square of New York, is known for its many Broadway theatres, cinemas and super signs.

Times Square has all sorts of fun, exciting and informative tours to explore other parts of the city. You can Choose from walking, bike, bus, food, limo, TV, landmark, ethnic or water tours.

Times Square Alliance estimates an average of more than 2,000 pedestrians traversing a block of 7th Avenue during a 15-minute weekday period.

4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which gets 20 million visitors, encompasses four historic places in one location — Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market, all set around a quaint cobblestone promenade where jugglers, magicians and musicians entertain the visitors.

There are more than 100 places to eat, shop and drink at this historic site.

7. Fisherman’s Wharf/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is a U.S. National Recreation Area administered by the National Park Service that surrounds the San Francisco Bay area.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes the famous orange bridge along with numerous other spaces throughout the Bay Area, draws 14.3 million visitors annually.

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10. Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

Opened in 1916, this Chicago landmark on the shore of Lake Michigan has served as a campus and military training facility.

With 8.6 million visitors, From rides to restaurants, exhibitions to entertainment, shopping to dining cruises and tour boats Navy Pier has it all – in a location unlike any other!

14. San Antonio River Walk, Texas

The Riverwalk is one of the most visited places in all of Texas and the greater San Antonio area has a world of fun and exciting things to do and see.

The San Antonio River Walk (also known as Paseo del Río) is a network of walkways around the San Antonio River, linking several major attractions one story beneath downtown San Antonio, Texas. Lined by bars, shops and restaurants.

The River Walk proclaims itself the “Number One entertainment destination in Texas,” with 5.1 million visitors a year.

15. Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT

Temple Square is the most popular attraction in the state with five million annual visitors. This ten-acre block located in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City is Utah’s number one tourist attraction.

The Mormon church’s headquarters are here, but Temple Square is more than just a destination for Latter Day Saints.

18. Metropolitan Museum, New York, N.Y.

Founded in 1870 (and moved to its current home in Central Park in 1880), the Met’s vast stores of art include more than two million works in its two-million-square-foot building.

It has a permanent collection containing more than two million works of art, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapons and armor from around the world.

Four and a half million visitors came to peruse some of the world’s greatest art collections, from American and European to Egyptian and the newly refurbished Greek and Roman Galleries.

24. American Museum of Natural History, NY

American Museum of Natural History, which attract 4 million visitors, has been one of the world’s preeminent science and research institutions, renowned for its collections and exhibitions that illuminate millions of years of the earth’s evolution, from the birth of the planet through the present day.

The AMNH’s 45 permanent exhibit halls contain a vast record of world history, from dinosaur fossils to the human genome.

The 18-acre campus is located in Theodore Roosevelt Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and its popular overnight program gives eight-to-12-year-olds the thrill of “falling asleep in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums.”

If you look at this short list, sure some things are not on our landscape one bit, but everything on this list is semi attainable.

there are three categories if you think about it

1: Great museums

2: Cultural piece surrounded by Entertainment district.

3: Purely an Entertainment district

While I strongly believe that a consolidated New England Museum of History would draw a significant number of tourists to hartford annually, this list made something entirely too clear.

We need to focus on our "entertainment value"

Mall of America is not far from being on that list, so that should tell us something.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA

-We may not be able to replicate this, but we have history like Boston that can be built on, and we have parking lots ready to be turned into marketplaces like faneuil Hall

San Antonio River Walk, Texas

-We have the Hog River, waiting under the city to have this kind of thing replicated. Imagine a walk along the river that includes the State Capital, The Bushnell, The Wadsworth, and a large entertainment/resturant area right on the river. people would take advantage of such an easy transition from one destination to another.

There are many other very successful examples.

The gas light district in KC

The Bricktown district on OKC

so, yeah, now I have conclusions, but I know lots o people have ideas. like a sky needle!!!! :)

I just think that if the river were treated properly there would be plenty of private development to follow that would generate a killer entertainment district, and something that does not exist in any NE city that I know about.

Edited by The Voice of Reason

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More on the specific subject of the Hog River.

Since this river is currently in a conduit, there is no assumed flow, or grade or level for this river. that being said, city engineers and planners could create a fairly level, slow flowing path through the city that would maximize retail space and aesthetics. The river would have high water mediation design features built into it much like what exists in Chicago and Rome. at typical water levels, the rivers waters would be within a foot or two of a fairly wide walkway. then the rivers edge would step up a further several feet to another walk way allowing for seating in the resturants etc. these "steps" allow for greater water flow at different flood stages, so that the seating areas would only be at risk once a decade maybe, and the resturants themselves would be set to avoid waters of a 100 year flood.

A "Special development zone" could be created along this path calling for certain materials used in construction, and certain design features. river facing retail would be required, housing would be optional but encouraged. many smaller parcels would be made available rather than superblocks of developemt to help create a more charming and aesthetic look.

at key intersections, the riverwalk could go down steps allowing for waterfalls and other features(in order to flow below certain roads etc...

at other locations along the path there would be "points of engagement" where the riverwalk would interact with the city encouraging people to visit the library or Wadsworth, or even walk 2 more blocks south to the Colt national park, etc...

If we could connect the Armory/Capital/State Museum through the city to Colt/the convention center at the other end, we would have the kind of destination that actually draws visitors, but also greatly improves livability for locals.

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It is really refreshing to see this type of thinking!

It would be great to develop these ideas while seriously working on ways to combat the city's real and perceived crime problem.

One question on the Park River: Could the conduit still be left intact to serve any purpose?

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so, yeah, now I have conclusions, but I know lots o people have ideas. like a sky needle!!!! :)

Ha!! Love ya buddy!

Anyways, phenomenal thread. Hartford's biggest problem is the shallow thinking. We are purely held down by those that don't have the cahones to think big. People will live and go to places that are beneficial to them, whether because it's fun, cheap, convenient, whatever. Hartford has always had a lack of forward/big thinking. The people that say "we're just a small city" are destined to remain a small city. Hartford can be whatever it wants to be. Uncovering the river, building a new arena, gaining an NHL team, "cleansing" the streets of crime, bringing in companies, building a Space Needle, creating a new college, all are absolutely attainable. Difficult? In this environment, yes. But you know what, just because something is difficult doesn't mean they are unattainable or un-needed.

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Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA

-We may not be able to replicate this, but we have history like Boston that can be built on, and we have parking lots ready to be turned into marketplaces like faneuil Hall

The original concept for Front Street, even before it was called Front Street, was to make it our "Faneiil Hall Market" A place where office workers would linger afterwork, Moms would want to come to and feel safe bringing thier kids on weekends, and a place all the visitors at convention center would come and hangout in their down time.

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I'm sure the Faneuil hall market thing is part of the wonderful phase II, along with the residential, Neverland Ranch, and the Fortress or Solitude....

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I've come to the conclusion that in order for a city to thrive it can't just have a few things that are unique it must have unique attractions plus ALL of the amenities of the suburbs reasonably located near the downtown or in any other neighborhood you expect to attract middle/upper class residents. Hartford is nowhere near that point and until it is investment will be slow. This is and has always been a painfully slow process and attitudes are simply not going to change until there is a movie theater, substantial shopping, and a lack of visible decay in Downtown Hartford. Northland apparently is in over their head regarding simply opening retail that would be successful at Hartford 21 and that is a shame. I think that with the right coaxing they could get decent tenents like an Aldi or Trader Joe's for a grocery store, could have made sure that Wendy's came back, gotten McDonald's to stay put, etc. Some of these are franchises and if they really wanted an active retail center they could have opened them themselves. This area obviously does not have enough entrepreneurs with any interest in investing in Hartford right now so the big guys have to step up if they ever want to see a return on their investments. We won't be able to appeal to tourists until we can at least appeal to residents. Conventioneers should not have to go to BBS to go shopping and until that problem is solved Hartford Tourism won't be more than an occasional thing that only happens when some large event decides to grace us with their presence.

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Yeah, well all the things you mention are pretty huge, but I think you have to think about it with a different tilt.

Hartford has what it needs for the most part, but it is not at all visitor friendly. If there were something like a riverwalk that was an obvious "home base" and connector for visitors, the amenities would become more accessable and visable.

imagine staying in a downtown hotel, or even crown plaza or the E-hartford Hotels. its not exactly inviting to stroll the streets. there is no signage telling you where you should go and if it is safe there.

if you had an obvious feature like this riverwalk, or even real art ways or whatever the art thing they are doing is called, people would know they were on the right path, and they would explore this path especially if from time to time it had a map, or signage stating "state capital .6 miles ==> or Wadsworth Museum of Art 3 blocks <===

I know having recently been in Dallas, another not very tourist friendly downtown, they do have a small area with maps, and old buildings filled with bars and resturants that points out a few museums and POI but also the book depository where kennedy was shot.

it was enough for me to explore the area and find a little more about Dallas.

maybe in a dream world we can sell our parking and build a riverwalk with retail and housing.... a "game changer"

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The CT river runs right by Hartford. I know it is cut off from downtown by I91 and yes there is Riverfront plaza but that isnt much. There needs to be a reason to go to the river. If there was a way to expand commercial properties toward the river, that would pay huge dividends.

In regards to tourism in Dallas, they have reasons to go there...JFK's shooting being one of the major ones. We dont have that here. THere are other reasons to come to Hartford, but none of them are enough on their own. We need to attract large conventions and sporting events to bring people here. And we need to have things for these people to do. But what we also need to do is bring all of these people (my family included) downtown. We go to Rentschler a few times a year for football and when the Whalers are back I'm sure I'll be able to coax them downtown for a few more hockey games than usual. And maybe a concert a year at the Meadows, but no more. Other than bars and restaurants which have dwindled since my days of partying it up downtown, there arent many reasons to go downtown. Sorry...the science center too. No matter...when we do go downtown, we go to what we are there for and we leave. No reason to stay or even go early.

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Obviously there are many different things that could improve Hartford as a tourist destination. I want to touch on one specific area. Generally speaking, people like quaint historical places - think of the all the medieval city centers in Europe or, closer to home, a place like Newport or Quebec City. Hartford is nearly 400 years old, about as old as anything there is in North America. Yet, for all of its history, Hartford doesn't really feel like a 400 year old city. Thanks largely to crappy re-development in the 60's and too many empty parking lots, much of downtown feels more like Brasilia than the historic city it is. Where is Hartford's equivalent of Beacon Hill or the French Quarter? Outside of the Amos Bull house and Lewis Street, Hartford has nothing that gives that "ye olde tyme" feel. (I'm excluding the Old State House because of its context.)

So what is my proposal? Fake the history. There is ample precedent - much of "historic" Williamsburg is a reproduction built by the Rockefellers; the Medieval city centers in places like Warsaw, Dresden, and Koln were rebuilt following World War II; and Santa Fe, New Mexico is the product of building design standards adopted in the early 1900's.

Hartford should create a federal style design area with row houses, narrow brick or cobble streets, and gaslights. I think that the area encompassing the big state lot on Capitol Ave would be perfect for this. First, there are the existing quaint historic structures in the area. The row houses new Main, the Methodist church by the Bushnell, etc. Second, there are already some great narrow streets in the area - Whitman Court, West Street, and Clinton Street are perfect for this kind of historic feel. Plus, the state lot could be divided up with a couple of narrow streets in that style. Most importantly, there is a lot of empty land to work with. There is the aforementioned state lot. On either side of the lot all the way down to Main Street there are several empty lots to work with. If we want to get really ambitious we could even include the empty lots on West Street by the park or the big empty lot over by Pulaski Circle.

Ultimately, we could have a "Federal Quarter" that incorporates the Amos Bull and Butler McCook houses and stretches all the way from South Prospect Street all the way up to the Capitol area in one direction and from the park to Buckingham in the other direction. That is something that tourists would want to walk around in, just like Beacon Hill.

Edited by MichaelQReilly

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Obviously there are many different things that could improve Hartford as a tourist destination. I want to touch on one specific area. Generally speaking, people like quaint historical places - think of the all the medieval city centers in Europe or, closer to home, a place like Newport or Quebec City. Hartford is nearly 400 years old, about as old as anything there is in North America. Yet, for all of its history, Hartford doesn't really feel like a 400 year old city. Thanks largely to crappy re-development in the 60's and too many empty parking lots, much of downtown feels more like Brasilia than the historic city it is. Where is Hartford's equivalent of Beacon Hill or the French Quarter? Outside of the Amos Bull house and Lewis Street, Hartford has nothing that gives that "ye olde tyme" feel. (I'm excluding the Old State House because of its context.)

So what is my proposal? Fake the history. There is ample precedent - much of "historic" Williamsburg is a reproduction built by the Rockefellers; the Medieval city centers in places like Warsaw, Dresden, and Koln were rebuilt following World War II; and Santa Fe, New Mexico is the product of building design standards adopted in the early 1900's.

Hartford should create a federal style design area with row houses, narrow brick or cobble streets, and gaslights. I think that the area encompassing the big state lot on Capitol Ave would be perfect for this. First, there are the existing quaint historic structures in the area. The row houses new Main, the Methodist church by the Bushnell, etc. Second, there are already some great narrow streets in the area - Whitman Court, West Street, and Clinton Street are perfect for this kind of historic feel. Plus, the state lot could be divided up with a couple of narrow streets in that style. Most importantly, there is a lot of empty land to work with. There is the aforementioned state lot. On either side of the lot all the way down to Main Street there are several empty lots to work with. If we want to get really ambitious we could even include the empty lots on West Street by the park or the big empty lot over by Pulaski Circle.

Ultimately, we could have a "Federal Quarter" that incorporates the Amos Bull and Butler McCook houses and stretches all the way from South Prospect Street all the way up to the Capitol area in one direction and from the park to Buckingham in the other direction. That is something that tourists would want to walk around in, just like Beacon Hill.

That is probably exactly what we need. A vintage type of redevelopment that could give visitors and residents more a feel for how Hartford once was. If only this city actually had the means to get something like that built. It would have to be a whole district with some residential, shopping, and dining options but something like that could really do wonders.

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I'm totally cool with faking history. I always wondered the same thing, but the leaders in Hartford don't think big, they think "parking, how will it help me and my friends", and "Park St renovation, how will it help me and my friends".

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So, going back to this.

without major projects and major changes, I am not so sure we can get any reall easy tourism money.

Right now most of our tourism money comes from business travelers, conventioneers, High-cultural attendees, and the low- culture attendees.

I do not think hartford has much appetite for new high culture. the Science museum has gobbled that up, but I do think the IQuilt project might help earn a little extra cultural attention, and maybe bring in some more visitors.

low culture seems to be where hartford is starving.

Sports: we all know this. Having a New Civic Center and an NHL/NBA team would be big business in hartford, and bring is a huge ammount of currently non existant tourism dollars. of the 18,000 visitors to a game, I bet 16,000+ come from outside of hartford. and some are even from out of county and state.

Concerts: this is where we get some Huge boosts in our tourism, but it goes little noticed, and is certainly not nurtured.

it also seems as though every concert, or circus that comes to town is extremely well recieved. how do we get more events like this to bring more people to town?

Night Life: block parties, St Pattys Day parades, even a good bar scene for UConn Kids.

Hartford does pretty damn well on this front. I would love to see "the Scene" continue to develop though. We are not very far away from really being the place to go. sure West Hartford has a better resturant collection, but its not that far ahead. If Hartford continues to develop kick butt events like Pipes in the Valley (This Saturday) and bars/resturants keep opening and doing well, Hartford will more and more be the cool city next door for Springfield, Waterbury, and hopefully some day Worcester and New Haven.

Events: this is out other golden goose.

we need more hartford marathon, more boat racing more pipes in the valley, more black eyed and blued..... but we need local businesses to be aware and open and serving these "tourists"

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Hartford has an amazing colonial history. Some is gone but much remains. The Webb-Deane-Steven houses in old Wethersfield are where George Washington and the French planned the Yorkstown campaign that won the revoltuion. It is a national treasure, it should be a national park. But you know, the people in Wethersfield don't want the bother.

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Hartford has an amazing colonial history. Some is gone but much remains. The Webb-Deane-Steven houses in old Wethersfield are where George Washington and the French planned the Yorkstown campaign that won the revoltuion. It is a national treasure, it should be a national park. But you know, the people in Wethersfield don't want the bother.

as a new Wethersfieldian, I think its a little more of the lets not change a thing attitude.

they do not want a national park because it will bring too many visitors

its a town steeped in history, and that "celebrates" history, but at the same time its more about appearing to care.

I went to the historical society to find out about my house. you would think someone would know something

anything about a house from 1815. not a damn thing

if it were in Old wethersfield, i would however have to ask permission to change my wall color.

very funny thing the apperance of caring is.

they want to welcome visitors as long as it does not increase traffic in any way. and they want the B&B closed that serves those people.

kinda weird.

me, I am all for capitalizing on history, real, or "faked"

Edited by The Voice of Reason

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as a new Wethersfieldian, I think its a little more of the lets not change a thing attitude.

they do not want a national park because it will bring too many visitors

Tough to attract tourists when you don't want visitors.

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Tough to attract tourists when you don't want visitors.

yes it is!

you know, I would love to see a streetcar system that was very limited, but for nostalgia purposes connected to Old Wethersfield.

State House Square to:

Rentschler Field,

Old Wethersfield

West hartford Center and maybe St Joe's

"the meadows", and Uhart

This way, all the touristy stuff would be connected with some real event locations, and people could really visit the local area without cars, and while staying at a downtown hotel or whatever.

I would totally ride a trolly down wethersfield ave.

but maybe it would need to go down Franklin:)

Edited by The Voice of Reason

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yes it is!

you know, I would love to see a streetcar system that was very limited, but for nostalgia purposes connected to Old Wethersfield.

State House Square to:

Rentschler Field,

Old Wethersfield

West hartford Center and maybe St Joe's

"the meadows", and Uhart

This way, all the touristy stuff would be connected with some real event locations, and people could really visit the local area without cars, and while staying at a downtown hotel or whatever.

I would totally ride a trolly down wethersfield ave.

but maybe it would need to go down Franklin:)

Use the track that already runs by the river, runs by convention center, runs by coltsville, and I believe right into old wethersfield.

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The science center can catch a break!. but if you read the whole article, its not actually less money, its a different way to distribute it. the -600K is just taking that money away as a guaranteed grant. the institutions will have to apply for what they need so the monies need to be justified rather than assumed as part of an operating budget. also, the state is increasing tourism advertizing by (or to) 25Million. so it is concievable that some places might get functionally more money by the state covering some of their marketing, and by them winning larger grants vs the guaranteed stipent.

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So they announced the tourism motto

Still Revolutionary.

27 million.

wile I really dont care what the slogan is or anything, I am glad they are advertising.

I think we really need to start packaging out history better.

I speak, Hartford Wethersfield and Windsor killed a bunch of Witches back in the day, lets embrace our ugly history! Its ugly but interesting.

The amistad trial started in Hartford too

I am sure there are underground railroad sites as well that can be packaged in some educational format to give tourists a peak into our rich black history. Haunted Twain is great, but we have plenty of otherwise funky novelties.... the underground tours once given in the Hog River Conduit!

(if you donate 500 bucks to a mapping project you can get a tour of the big tunnels and the small ones too)

For 50 bucks you would have hundreds of takers

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I can not seem to get this reply to accept a link but there is an article on Huffington post by travel blogger Malerie Yolen-Cohen titled "10 Great Reasons to Visit Hartford".  Front street is even mentioned as one of the 10 tourist attractions (didn't mention most tenants were still in construction phase though).  if someone can get the link here its definitely a positive article and mentions improvements over the last 10 yrs

 

Edit.... Here is the link

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malerie-yolencohen/ten-great-reasons-to-visi_b_4804868.html

Edited by HartfordHope

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I can not seem to get this reply to accept a link but there is an article on Huffington post by travel blogger Malerie Yolen-Cohen titled "10 Great Reasons to Visit Hartford".  Front street is even mentioned as one of the 10 tourist attractions (didn't mention most tenants were still in construction phase though).  if someone can get the link here its definitely a positive article and mentions improvements over the last 10 yrs

 

Edit.... Here is the link

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malerie-yolencohen/ten-great-reasons-to-visi_b_4804868.html

 

I saw this yesterday, it was definitely a pretty cool little feature promoting Hartford as a destination.

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