~ Hartford, Connecticut ~

Hartford is the capital of Connecticut and the historic seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making it Connecticut's third-largest city after the coastal cities of Bridgeport and New Haven.

Nicknamed the "Insurance Capital of the World," with companies such as Travelers, Aetna, The Hartford, The Phoenix Companies, Uniprise and Hartford Steam Boiler based in the city Hartford, insurance remains the region's major industry. Despite the city's lengthy history with the insurance industry, various insurers have recently left Hartford and moved their operations to other locations, including Hartford's suburbs.

Almost 400 years old, Hartford is among the oldest cities in the United States. Following the American Civil War, Hartford was the wealthiest city in the United States for several decades. In 1868, Mark Twain wrote before he died, "Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see this is the chief."

Today, Hartford is one of the poorest cities in the nation with three out of every ten families living below the poverty line. The median income for a household in the city was $20,820, and the median income for a family was $22,051.

Hartford is not the easiest city in the country to drive in and parking was nearly non-existent. I could not find any place to park Arvie within a mile of the State house and took these photos while stopped for a traffic light. This same lack of parking was a contributor to the mass exodus of the insurance industry from Hartford. I was able to find parking about two blocks from the Mark Twain House. My visit to Hartford was not a total loss.

Hartford would be my final stop in this tour of New England, but not the final stop of this trip. I still had "miles to go before I sleep" in Florida.

The Connecticut State Capitol

The Connecticut State House

The Hartford Skyline

More Hartford skyline

I have no idea what this dome covers

The General Assembly of Connecticut had met alternately in Hartford and New Haven since before the Revolution. When in Hartford, the General Assembly met in the Old State House, and when sitting in New Haven, in a state house designed in 1827. After the Civil War, the complications of this plan began to be evident, and both Hartford and New Haven competed to be the sole state capital. Hartford won, and the new capital needed one central capitol building.
The General Assembly authorized a million dollar project, and two competitors, James G. Batterson and Richard M. Upjohn vied to be awarded the project. Upjohn won, but Batterson, a stone importer and merchant and not an architect, was named the building contractor. Batterson then continually revised the Upjohn plan to more and more closely resemble his own plan. The central tower, for example, is Batterson's, not Upjohn's. Batterson's extensive elaboration of Upjohn's plan ended up more than doubling the cost to over $2,500,000. Upjohn's design is in the Eastlake Style, with French and Gothic revival elements.
The Capitol was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1971. The building's ornately decorated facades display statuary and include several statues, medallions and carved tympana over the doors. The statues are of politicians and other people important to the state's history. At the exterior base of the dome are 12 statues in six pairs representing Agriculture, Commerce, Education/Law, Force/War, Science/Justice, and Music.
A quick trip around the block and I was headed for the Mark Twain house (above right).

Mark Twain house

The Mark Twain House and Museum was the home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) from 1874 to 1891 in Hartford. The architectural style of the 19-room house is Victorian Gothic. The house is also notable for the major works written during his residency, including The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi, Huckleberry Finn, A Tramp Abroad, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
Poor financial investments caused the Twain family to move to Europe in 1891. When they returned to Connecticut in 1900 he lived in a house built for him in Redding, Connecticut, named Stormfield, where he died on April 21, 1910. His home in Hartford functioned as a school, an apartment building, and a library. In 1962 the building was declared a National Historic Landmark. Since 1974 it has had a multi-million dollar renovation and an expansion dedicated to showcasing his life and work.
The house was designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter, an architect from New York City. When the house was being built, the Hartford Daily Times noted, "The novelty displayed in the architecture of the building, the oddity of its internal arrangement and the fame of its owner will all conspire to make it a house of note for a long time to come." The home is in the style of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, including the typical steeply-pitched roof and an asymmetrical bay window layout. Legend says the home was designed to look like a riverboat.

The Carriage House

The back porch

It seems as though Twain liked porches.

When I first approached the Twain House, I thought they had painted these patterns on the sides, but as I came closer I saw that they were made by the laying of the bricks.
I walked over the the Stowe House. It is just around the corner. Twain and Stowe were neighbors for the period that Twain lived there.

Harriet Beecher Stowe House and Center

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe's Hartford home and the Center's historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 to July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote more than 20 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential both for her writings and her public stands on social issues of the day.
In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe changed the world with Uncle Tom's Cabin, her ground-breaking and best-selling anti-slavery novel. Stowe recognized slavery's injustices and was compelled to speak out. As a woman of the 19th century, Stowe had no right to vote or no hold office, yet she gave public voice to her convictions, turned the tide of public opinion and became the most influential American woman of the 19th century.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford is the house where Stowe lived for the last 23 years of her life. It was next door to the house of fellow author Mark Twain. In this 5,000 sq ft cottage-style house, there are many of Beecher Stowe's original items and items from the time period.

This house is behind the Stowe House, between it and the Mark Twain house. I found it to be an interesting house to photograph.

Front of the Stowe House

Side view

Back entrance

Then I went back to the Twain house for another look

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