Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks~History~Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods: West End
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The West End represents one of the final frontiers in the development of Hartford. Albany Avenue crosses the northern tip of the neighborhood and is one of the oldest roads in the state, providing a route to Albany, New York. Inns and taverns peppered the road and one of them—S. Wadsworth's Inn, operated by Elisha and Sidney Wadsworth— was located at the junction of what is now Albany Avenue and Prospect Avenue. The building still stands today.

Much of the area was farmland throughout the 19th century. In 1870, real estate developer Eugene L. Kenyon laid out the beginnings of Kenyon, Whitney, Tremont, Oxford and North Beacon Streets on the farmland north of Farmington Avenue in the hope of attracting new residents to the western edge of the city. But it wasn't until the turn of the 20th century when upper middle class residential development began to boom. During the 1910's, many two- and three-family homes were constructed. The area north of Fern Street developed between 1905 and 1930 in a more suburban pattern than had the earlier sections near Farmington Avenue.

The West End is also home to the University of Connecticut School of Law and the Hartford Seminary. The Seminary dates to 1834 when the Theological Institute of Connecticut was established in East Windsor to prepare young men for the ministry. The institution moved to Hartford in 1865, and in 1923-29, the Hartford Seminary Foundation constructed a Gothic-style complex on a 30-acre campus, where it remains today.

Here also is the Connecticut Historical Society. Founded in 1925, the Society resided for over one hundred years at the Wadsworth Atheneum. In 1950, it moved to its current site, the former home of Curtis H. Veeder, inventor of the American cycle meter and founder of Veeder Mfg Co.

Street Map of West End Neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut

  

One of the most architecturally-interesting structures is the former residence of A. Everett "Chick" Austin, who served as the Director of the Wadsworth Atheneum from 1927 to 1944. It was constructed to resemble a stage set, and although it appears to be quite large, is in fact only 18 feet deep the entire width of the home. It was here that the colorful director enterained notables such as Salvatore Dali, Alexander Calder, Gertrude Stein, George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Agnes de Mille and Aaron Copeland.

The cluster of apartment buildings along Denison, Owen and Frederick streets are part of the neighborhood known as Little Hollywood. The area was developed between 1907 and 1923 at a time when young women, with a growing drive for independence and in pursuit of careers, sought pleasant housing in a safe area. This new type of independent young woman, said to be beautiful and to lead glamorous lives, was associated with the area, thus its name.

Prospect Avenue defines the western border of the neighborhood. Grand homes were constructed in the 19th century for successful businessmen, inluding the president of the Capewell Horse Nail Company, founder of the Fuller Brush Company, the owner of G. Fox & Company and many others. Charles Pond, president of the Hartford Trust Co. donated his large estate in 1900 to the Hartford Parks Commission for the creation of what is now Elizabeth Park. Named in memory of Pond's wife, Elizabeth Park straddles the Hartford-West Hartford border. This is due to the long-standing border dispute between West Hartford and Hartford, which was resolved in the 1870's when Prospect Avenue was set as the dividing line. A playground, softball fields and other recreational facilities are provided on the Hartford side of the park.

One former West End resident was Wallace Stevens, a Modernist poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1955. He walked the two miles from his home on Westerly Terrace to his office at the Hartford Insurance Group, composing poetry in his head along the way. To commemorate this, the Wallace Stevens Walk has been marked with granite blocks, each containing a stanza from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

Today, the West End is seen as a highly-desirable neighborhood in which to live. Much of the neighborhood is contained within one of several historic districts, listed on the National Register.

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