IntroductionWhen merchants formed the Hartford Fire Insurance Co. in 1810, Hartford began its transition from trading center to insurance capital of the world. Today many of the country’s biggest insurance companies are headquartered or have a significant presence in the city, and the original group, now known as the Hartford Financial Services Group, still operates there.
But Hartford has a varied history and a wide range of other contributions. It boasts the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the oldest public art museum in the United States. Founded in 1842, the Wadsworth Atheneum has a permanent collection of more than 45,000 works and it continues to grow, with plans under way for office relocation that will free up additional gallery space.
Courtesy of Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT
In the Nook Farm community of Hartford, Samuel Clemens wrote of adventures on the Mississippi River, and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were born. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived across the lawn from Clemens, and both of their homes—hers gray and unadorned, his whimsically decorative—now house exhibits and are open to the public.
Not far away in West Hartford, Elizabeth Park Rose Garden is the country’s first municipally owned rose garden. Each year a weekend festival in June marks the blooming of its 15,000 rosebushes in hundreds of varieties. And for faster-paced outdoor entertainment, Lake Compounce Theme Park, the nation’s oldest continuously operating amusement park, offers heart-stopping thrills and family attractions in nearby Bristol.
By CarLooking at a map, it almost seems as if all roads lead to Hartford. The major north-south highway into the city is I-91, while I-84 runs northeast-southwest. Signage is good with generally adequate warning for exit ramps. Avoid the 7-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. rush hours.
Street SystemA good map is an absolute necessity for negotiating the Hartford vicinity. At some major intersections downtown traffic is stopped in all four directions and pedestrians may cross on the diagonal. Colorful directional street signage to area attractions help visitors explore downtown.
ParkingParking downtown is readily available in the numerous garages and lots. Rates range from $8 per day in city-operated lots to as much as $5 per hour in privately owned garages. City-operated garages offer low evening and weekend hourly rates with a maximum of $6.50. Metered on-street parking is ample with spaces available within one block of most destinations and is free after 6 p.m. and on weekends.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Connecticut sales tax is 6.35 percent. Room occupancy tax in the greater Hartford area is 15 percent. The car rental tax is 9.35 percent with an added $1 per day tourism tax.
Hartford Hospital, (860) 545-5000; Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, (860) 714-4000.
One Constitution Plaza 2nd Floor Hartford, CT 06103. Phone:(860)256-2800
Bradley International Airport
Hertz, at the airport and at several downtown locations, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (860) 627-3850 or (800) 654-3080.
The Amtrak station, (860) 727-1776 or (800) 872-7245, is downtown in the Union Station Transportation Center at 1 Union Pl.
Greyhound Lines Inc., (860) 724-7080 or (800) 231-2222, Peter Pan Bus Lines/Bonanza Bus, (800) 343-9999, and other intercity buses operate out of the Union Station Transportation Center at 1 Union Pl. Taxis and CTTransit buses also are available.
Taxis hired at the airport taxi stand charge $45 to downtown (for up to four people). Cab companies include United Cab Co., (860) 547-1602; and Yellow, (860) 666-6666. Base fare (for up to four people) is $3.00 for first one-ninth mile, then 30c per each additional one-ninth mile.
The buses of CTTransit, (860) 525-9181 or TTY (860) 727-8196, run on more than 30 routes servicing Hartford and its surrounding towns. The buses operate daily, with reduced schedules weekends and holidays. Regular fare $1.75; all-day pass $3.50.