Old Pictures of Hartford

Some interesting photos of what Hartford would have looked like had its numerous ambitious projects of the late 1980s gone through.

One in particular, the Cutter Financial Center, would have been the tallest building in New England, surpassing the JH Tower by almost 100 feet.



^ I was thinking Atlanta. Hartford strikes me as possibly the least urban New England city.
Most of this is anecdotal, so forgive (and correct me) if I am off-base here:

I hate to say it, but I doubt those towers would have done anything to heal Hartford. Would they have been built on empty lots, or would more of the city been taken down for them to be built? My girlfriend grew up outside Hartford, and in my brief visits to it or passing through on the highway, it strikes me almost as a place where every since-discredited urban planning theory was tried. It's especially sad to see how beautiful and whole it once was. Even as so many American cities are making a comeback, Hartford seems unfortunate in how far it must come and how reluctant those around it might be to help in that endeavor.

I grew up outside Manchester, New Hampshire (another city that once saw a huge amount of its urban fabric decimated) and whenever I am home the natural destination for going out is downtown Manchester. I was surprised to find that the same is not true of Hartford--it is a shell of a city, a loose forest of towers in a vast parking lot with the indignity of raised walkways so people don't have to interact with the street, but the biggest impediment seems to be that those who live outside the city (and may or may not work downtown) have so little invested in Hartford. Unlike Manchester or Portland, where even those who live outside the city use and frequent its amenities, Hartford seems like it is treated more like a suburban office park than a city by those in the surrounding communities. People may work downtown, but they don't seem to go out there or ever consider moving there. West Hartford Center is a very nice place, but this seems only to hurt Hartford more--with safe, relatively homogenous, affluent neighborhoods and downtowns outside the city, there's little incentive to invest much in improving Hartford.
I've always been amazing at how Connecticut dove head long into the highway/car culture so much more than other New England cities. True, there were highway revolts in the major NE cities but CT's highways are so much more massive than the other NE highways. And have you ever seen how many more they wanted to build? The Inner Belt/I-95 through Boston was nothing compared to what CT was trying to build.

I understand that CT had a large manufacturing sector but that dried up after the war. So why all the roads? Someone was well connected in Washington (Bush?)
Not sure what you mean--if there is a NY influence on Hartford or if my post reflects a NY influence? Either way, I am pretty uneducated on the particular reasons for Hartford's decline, and why it seems to have struggled to rebound more, and to have fallen so much farther than other, similarly sized cities. I read the 2002 NYT article linked earlier, and it shed some light, but it's still puzzling to me. One of the largest cities in New England, and one situated almost ideally between, but far away from major cities seems like it should be more of a desirable place. I didn't mean my post at all to be a statement about the people who live around Hartford (judging solely by my girlfriend's family, I like these people and think they want to see Hartford do well), but more of a statement on my anecdotal assessment based on very limited experience and a few articles. I'd love it if someone could fill me in. I've said so on other threads, but I think mid-sized cities like Hartford, Manchester, Portland, Providence... are going to see the greatest growth and development as populations return in the coming decades.
I was referring to Van's point about CT's peculiar obsession with highway building. I thought there might be some Robert Moses influence there, or at least high demand from NYers living in far-flung CT suburbs who wanted quick auto access to the city.

To reply to some of what you said above though - Hartford's "ideal" position between major cities is probably part of its downfall. Other cities similarly situated (see Baltimore, and to a lesser extent because of its size, Philadelphia) are not competing very well against superior regional economies like Boston's, NY's, or Washington's. Some smaller cities have flourished because they've managed to attach themselves to one of those metros - Providence is a great example of this, and it might be Baltimore's future as well.