Between 1890 and 1900, the city's population increased tremendously, and new electric trolley lines radiated in all directions from the city's centerincluding one that ran out New Britain Avenue with a spur down Fairfield Avenue to Cedar Hill Cemetery. Dependable transportation made it possible to develop suburbs for middle-income and working-class families. A fact not overlooked by real estate developers. Once accessible to Hartford's middle class, real estate development along the avenue occurred with earnest. Land tract auctions on became more and more common and very popular resulting in many of the old estates and remaining farms being broken into smaller building lots or subdivisions such as Trinity Heights, Grandview, Broadview and Fairfield Park. When George Fairfield died in 1908, he left no will and his estate was, too, subject to being piecemealed by speculators and developors. All that is left today is his Italiante style home, which is now split up into condominiums.
In the early 20th century, Frederick Law Olmsted first outlined plans for a ring of parks surrounding the central city. Tree-lined Fairfield Avenue was seen as a greenway corridor to connect Pope Park, the new Rocky Ridge Park and Goodwin Park. The portion of Rocky Ridge Park south of New Britain Avenue was renamed the Thomas J. Hyland Park, in honor of a man who had organized youth sporting events in the neighborhood up until his untimely death in 1954. The park features baseball diamonds, a spray park and playground for kids and a basketball court.
Engine Company 15 (renamed the Mayor Mike Peters Fire Station) of the Hartford Fire Department is located at the northern end of the avenue. Built in 1909, it is the oldest extant firehouse in the city and is listed in its own right on the National Register of Historic Places. Behind the main floor apparatus room was a horse stable with eight stalls and a shower bath for the horses used to pull the fire wagons. Evidence of these stalls are still visible today.
Up until the late 1860s, the road was known by a number of names, including at one time or another, Rock Hill Avenue, Ridge Road and Rocky Hill Ridge Road. Over the course of more than two centuries of use Colonial travelers, farmers’ wagons, cemetery mourners, trolleys, and automobiles have traversed its surface; and woodlots, farms, mansions, and middle-class homes have sprouted along its flanks. It has alwaysand remains todaybeen seen as a desirable area in which to live.
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