Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks~History~Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods: South West
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The South West neighborhood is bounded by Fairfield Avenue to the east, the Wethersfield town line to the south, the West Hartford town line to the west and the Park River and New Britain Avenue to the north. Large farms covered much of the South West neighborhood through most of the 19th century. One of the largest no doubt belonged to James H. Smith, who purchased 40 acres of land in 1898 from the trustees of Trinity College. His home was built in 1901 on Fairfield Avenue, with land with outbuildings, including a carriage house, that boardered White Street between Fairfield and New Britain avenues. It was big news in 1912 when Smith sold the majority of his land upon retiring from the dairy business. The home remains today as a two-family residence. The sale of Smith's property opened up the area for development and Cedar Heights was born. Advertised as a "golden opportuity" to live in "one of Hartford's most aristocractic sections," homes began springing up to populate the neighborhood.

Development was spurred by the availability of public transit in the form of the trolley than ran from Retreat Avenue through Washington street, across New Britain avenue and along Fairfield Avenue to Cedar Hill Cemetery, as well as trolley lines along New Britain Avenue running to Elmwood (West Hartford). The first two decades of the 20th century saw tremendous development of new roads, sidewalks, single homes and multiple-family dwellings.

Cedar Hill Cemetery spans half the width of the neighborhood's southern border and provides a welcoming parklike environment for residents (more). Foster Heights park nearby offers a picnic area, spray pad and playground for kids in the area.

Street Map of South West Neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut

  

Highland Park also provides a playground, spray pad and athletic fields. The tract of land was once a part of Rocky Ridge Park which extended north of New Britain Avenue to Trinity College. Formerly a quarry with rock blastings that shooki foundations of homes along Zion Street and Fairfield Avenue, the quarrying ceased by 1906 after complaints from Trinity College and distinguished residents such as George Fairfield. There was also the realization that it was cheaper to buy stone than to quarry it. The park is named for Thomas J. Hyland, who worked tirelessly to create youth programs in the neighborhood.

In May of 1931, the Mary Ogden Avery Convalescent Hospital was opened as a unit of Hartford Hospital, at the junction of New Britain and Newington avenues. A U-shaped, brick building of Colonial design, it had separate wings for male and female patients. Outdoor gardens on 80 acres on land provided a tranquil setting. Prior to that, the land was occupied by Wildwood Farm when land was deeded over to Hartford Hospital in 1887. For years, the farm provided vegetables and dairy products to the hospital. Today, the facility is known as Avery Heights, and is retirement community that offers cottages and apartments, along with health care facilities and services.

HFD Unit Engine 9 was organized in 1900 as Chemical 1 then renamed Squad A in 1911. It was located at 43 Pearl Street in downtown. The unit was disbanded in 1928 then reorganized in 1931 at its new location, on New Britain Avenue at Forster Street as Engine 9, where it remains today.

One of two public schools in the neighborhood, Kennelly began its life as the Southwest School, a one-room school house built in 1844. It was not always used and went through a long period of vacancy. The school reopened full time in the late 1890s but was soon found to be too small to accommodate the growing number of students who needed to attend. A large, brick building was built in 1900 and, many years later, renamed the Eleanor B. Kennelly School.

Largely residential, the neighborhood is considered the quiet corner of the city. Crime rate is comparitively low, housing is stable and there is limited commercial activity. Of the restaurants in the neighborhood the Nutshell Cafe on White Street specializes in Portuguese and American fare, and Coyote Flaco, owned and operated by Alcibiades and Esperanza Cabrera serve authentic Mexican cuisine.

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