Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks~History~Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods: South Green
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Before 1880 much of the south end of the city was farmland and pasture. The area around present-day Goodwin Park was part of the Great Swamp, once extending from just west of Wethersfield Avenue to the vicinity of present-day Cedar Hill Cemetery. Wethersfield and Fairfield avenues were the first two roads through the area.

The South End neighborhood grew rapidly after World War I, with the subdivision of land for development. The area along Franklin Avenue became known as Little Italy, with restaurants, bakeries, markets and social clubs. Many of these establishments remain today and the area is a favorite of city residents and visitors alike for shopping and dining.

Grandview Terrace (which was once known as Bradford Street) traverses both the South End and Barry Square neighborhoods. The southernmost block is a boulevard that runs north and south between White and Linnmoore streets. It is an historic district that began as part of a 1900 real estate development, and is distinctive for its central median. Originally the site of the State Reformatory, the area was developed as Parkview Heights in the early 1900s.

In the late-1800's, Hartford was seeing a boom in the development of parks. Reverend Francis Goodwin, who was chairman of the Hartford Parks Commission, championed the cause of green spaces with his slogan, "More Parks for Hartford." His plan was have the city circled by parks, much like the Fenway System that had been laid out in Boston.

Rev. Goodwin persuaded Charles Pond to donate his large estate to the cause, as well as Henry Keney to donate his land. As a result, we now have Elizabeth Park and Keney Park. South Park was developed in the southern end of the city and opened to the public around 1900. The following year, the parks commission renamed it Goodwin Park in recognition of Rev. Goodwin's service to the city.

Street Map of South End Neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut

  

When the first airmail was delivered to Hartford in 1918, it was in Goodwin Park that the plane landed — there was no other facility available. In 1921, two young airmen were killed trying to make a landing in the "barnstorming field." It was this incident that prompted the mayor, Newton C. Brainard, to build a proper landing field. Thus, Brainard Field was born. That airport is in operation today in the South Meadows.

Goodwin Park is now comprised of 237 acres (85 of which sit in the town of Wethersfield), and offers a playground, community pool and 27-hole golf course. In December each year, illuminated structures festoon the interior road and thousands of cars stream through from Thanksgiving to early January to enjoy the display.

Many residents would be surprised to know that there is a monument in the neighborhood, a photograph of which is carried around by people in Northern Ireland. In 1981, ten jailed Irish Republicans started a hunger strike to win status as political prisoners. Beginning with Bobby Sands, all ten died. The Hunger Strikers Memorial on Maple Avenue was established by the Hartford chapter of the Irish Northern Aid Committee and local Irish-Americans. The Celtic Cross sits on a base inscribed with the name of Bobby Sands and the other prisoners who died in the hunger strike.

Some may still remember going to games at Bulkeley Stadium, the home of Hartford's minor league baseball team, variously known as The Hartford Chiefs, The Hartford Senators, The Hartford Laurels and The Hartford Bees. Teams that played here between 1921 and 1952 were affiliated with the Eastern League. Lou Gehrig, Jim Thorpe, Leo Durocher, Hank Greenberg, Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain all played for teams at one point in their careers. Babe Ruth played at the stadium in an exhibition game in 1940. When the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee at the end of the 1952 season, Hartford's minor league team was relocated. The stadium ultimately was demolished in 1960. A memorial plaque was placed on George Street at the intersection of Hamner in what would have been the outfield. More recently, Norman Hausmann, a local baseball enthusiast and one who remembers attending games in his youth, worked with the Friends of Vintage Base Ball to locate the exact position on home plate and install a granite marker.

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