Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks ~ History ~ Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods: Parkville
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Parkville takes its name from its location at the junction of the North and South Branches of the Park River. It is one of Hartford's smallest neighborhoods, but is packed with a mix of residential on side streets, retail and an industrial area along the railroad tracks. The area, similar to others surrounding Hartford, was primarily farmland through much of the 19th century. In 1878, residents tried to secede from Hartford, claiming they were over-taxed merely because their land was not developed.

In 1873, Michael Kane established a brickyard off New Park Avenue on either side of Prospect Avenue. The Kane Brickyard quickly became one of leading brick-makers in the state, providing materials for projects such as Trinity College, the Travelers building, the Hartford Times building, the state library and the state capitol building.

The early population of the neighborhood was Irish, followed by French Canadian, Scandinavian and German. By the early 1880's, the expansion of the adjacent Frog Hollow neighborhood, coupled with the extension of the railroad line southwest towards New Haven, forever changed the complexion of Frog Hollow.

Street Map of Asylum Hill Neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut

Our Lady of Sorrows Church was built in 1889 as a wood frame structure located on Grace Street. The present-day church at New Park Avenue was built in 1922. The La Salette Seminary was established on 10 acres on New Park Avenue in Hartford, the founding city of the La Salette’s North American Mission. The order traces its beginnings to an apparition of the Blessed Virgin in 1846 to two shepherd children in the French Alps. Today, the facility is a retirement home for La Salettes, after the Order purchased land elsewhere in Connecticut to build a larger seminary.

The Royal Typewriter plant was established in Hartford due to the abundance of labor here. It employed immigrants from Poland, Canada, Italy, Portgual, Germany and elsewhere. The plant was expanded five times before 1921 and more housing was built between Park Street and Elmwood to accommodate the burgeoning workforce. By 1938 Royal had become the largest typewriter manufacturer in the world. At its peak, shortly after World War II, itemployed almost 7,000 people at its factory on New Park Avenue, making it one of the city's largest manufacturers. Most of the employees walked to work, creating a vibrant mix of housing, restaurants, bars and stores. Underwood Typewriter Co. had also set up its factory on New Park Avenue. As the two factories grew, Hartford earned the nickname, "Typewriter Capital of the World." When operations moved overseas, the buildings sat idle for years until a fire in 1992 caused heavy damage. Today, a supermarket is there but a plaque commemorates the site.

Real Art Ways, established in 1975 in downtown Hartford and currently housed in the former Underwood Typewriter building on Arbor Street, brings creative energy to the neighborhood with its offerings of contemporary arts exhibits, live art performances, movies, wi-fi lounge, special programs and community involvement. Also in the Arbor Street building are offices, artists' studios and the Hartford Preservation Alliance, which works to preserve Hartford's architecture.

In the works is a Parkville stop along the Hartford-New Britain busway. The comprehensive Station Planning Project includes housing, retail and amenities that would improve the overall quality of life in the neighborhood.

Today, the predominant ethnic group represented in Parkville is Portuguese, with Asian, Puerto Rican, African American and ethnic whites creating a culturally diverse area. An active community organization works to improve the streetscape and quality of life.

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