Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks ~ History ~ Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods: North East
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The North East neighborhood is bounded by Spring Grove Cemetery to the south, the railroad yards to the east, and Keney Park to the north and west.

In the mid-19th century, the northeast district was sparsely settled and largely open land. Spring Grove Cemetery was laid out in 1845, acting as a natural barrier to pre-Civil War suburban development, which was concentrated in the areas closest to downtown. In post-Civil War years as Hartford's economy boomed, the urban population grew and the natural spread outward from the city center proceeded.

In the 1860s through the 1870s the population was largely Anglo-Saxon and German, and middle class in occupation, with professions ranging from office workers employed in the downtown to craftsmen and small businessmen like butchers, grocers and others who worked from their own homes or nearby.

In the mid 1870s and early 1880s, the national economy went into a depression, impacting the growth of the manufacturing businesses in the city. As a result, growth in the district ceased. By the late 1880s, however, the city's industries were seeing a resurgence and the influx of homeowners once again increased, particularly since the Hartford and Wethersfield Horse Railway line expanded to Capen Street. Between 1898 and 1913, the building boom continued unabated, with several Irish and Jewish contracting firms active in the area. Around the turn of the century an Irish community was firmly established in the neighborhood, and St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church was built in 1900. In the years following, a group of Italians also arrived and joined the parish. A school was built on Clark Street in 1927, now the Artists' Collective.

Street Map of North East Neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut


During the 1920's, the Tower Avenue area was built up as large numbers of upwardly-mobile Jews settled in the north neighborhoods. After World War II, Northeast Hartford became a prime residential area for upwardly-mobile, middle-class, black families, and in the 1960s for many African-Americans displaced from the center city by urban renewal.

The area north of the Spring Grove Cemetery was mostly farms until the purchase of Keney Park, which was established in 1896 through the efforts of Reverend Francis Goodwin, chairman of the Board of Park Commissioners. He had convinced Henry and Walter Keney, successful merchants, to will a large part of their property for a park. The Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm was hired to create a naturalistic theme.

Keney Park has 695 acres, 100 of which extend into the town of Windsor. The park contains an 18-hole golf course (designed by Devereux Emmet and built in 1927), cricket fields, tennis courts, baseball fields, a swimming pool, basketball court and playgrounds. One of the largest municipal parks in New England, the park also provides auto roads in a naturalist settings, as designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm.

From the 1890s the neighborhood has been primarily residential, with small tradespeople. However, some manufacturing was established, including the Bishop Ladder Company and the Fuller Brush Factory. The latter, built in 1906, once produced household brushes of all descriptions that were sold by door-to-door salesmen.

Founded in 1950 by migrant workers who were recruited from the Caribbean to work in the tobacco fields and factories, the West Indian Social Club continues tto provide a social gathering place to carrying on traditions such as dominoes and cricket, as well as offering a space for other organizations to rent for rehearsals, meetings, forums, cultural events, social affairs and other programs, which are important to the unified life of the community. The Cricket Hall of Fame is located nearby.

Located on Barbour Street, the Hartford Circus Fire Memorial commemorates the site where 168 lives were lost on July 6, 1944 in one of the worst disasters in circus history (more).

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