Downtown Hartford, Connecticut is a hub of business and financial activity. With many Insurance Companies, banks and other businesses located there, downtown Hartford, Ct is a bustling place from 9- 5, on most weekdays. Hartford, Connecticut’s downtown area is also home to a world- class art museum, several historical churches, America’s oldest public park, live theater facilities and a wide assortment of bars and restaurants. Because of the pedestrian- friendly way the streets are designed there, taking a walking tour of the downtown area is a relatively- easy and fun activity for people of all ages.
Starting at the western edge of the downtown area, where Hartford, Ct’s Railroad Station and bus terminal is located, this guide briefly details points of interest and attractions, which are easily- accessible to pedestrians.
Union Station, which is Hartford, Ct’s railroad and bus terminal, is a large, cavernous facility which also houses a very popular Italian restaurant named Hot Tomato’s. The terminal is located at the intersection of Asylum Street and Union Place, a very busy area, filled with many bars and restaurants, such as Papa’s Pizza, which is one of the best pizza restaurants in the city. Across the street from Union Station, looking south, is Bushnell Park, which is America’s oldest public park. This large expanse of greenery in the middle of the city houses the ornate State Capitol Building of the State of Connecticut, as well as historical statues, a pond and a working antique carousel, or merry- go- round, which is a favorite attraction for people of all ages, particularly young children. Bushnell Park is divided into two parts, separated by an access road and the formidable, brick Soldiers and Sailors Arch.
Heading east from Union Station, up Asylum Street, one passes the historic Bond Hotel and the very popular BBQ and Blues restaurant named Black- Eyed Sally’s, before reaching the newly- renovated Hartford Civic Center. Originally built in 1975, the Hartford Civic Center is home to the Hartford Wolf Pack, an American Hockey League team and is host to many UCONN basketball games, concerts and other events. Also located at the Hartford Civic Center is Hartford 21, which is a new- in 2006, 36- story apartment building, which is the tallest apartment building in New England. The western side of the civic center is located on Ann Street, which is home to a US Postal Service office, a popular multi- level dance club named Club Blu and a new seafood restaurant named Sally’s Fish Camp. Sally’s Fish Camp is located at the intersection of Ann and Allyn Streets, in the heart of Hartford, Ct’s entertainment district.
The southern side of Asylum Street is filled with many small shops and services, including an excellent clothing store named Tuesday’s and a McDonald’s restaurant. The very upscale and historic Goodwin Hotel and the CityPlace office buildings are situated across from the Hartford Civic Center, on the southern side of Asylum Street. Continuing eastward on Asylum St, to the east side of the civic center, one reaches the intersection of Asylum and Trumbull Streets. Two blocks north of this intersection is the magnificent Hartford Hilton Hotel, which contains excellent restaurant and club facilities. Side- streets extending from Trumbull Street include Pratt Street, a small, attractive, brick- lined street filled with an assortment of small stores, services, bars and restaurants and Church Street, where the Hartford Stage Company and the historic Christ Church Cathedral are located. At the southern end of Trumbull St, at the edge of Bushnell Park, several new apartment and condo buildings are located, such as the 11- story Trumbull On The Park and 55 On The Park complexes. Pearl Street, which runs off of Trumbull St, is home to art galleries, live theater venues and several small shops and offices. Located just off of Trumbull St, at the eastern edge of Bushnell Park, is the historic Center Church, First Church of Christ. Positioned on the corner of Lewis and Gold Streets, this church sits next- door to the Ancient Burying Grounds and an outdoor rock- garden / art exhibit.
Continuing up Gold St, one block to Main Street, one encounters the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, at 600 Main Street. This influential art museum is located next- door to Hartford City Hall, separated by an outdoor, tree- lined pedestrian area named the Burr Mall, which houses a giant, steel sculpture by artist Alexander Calder, titled “Stegosaurus”. Located next to Hartford City Hall is the main branch of the Hartford Public Library, which, in 2007, is still undergoing major expansion and renovations, adding 44,000 square feet of space and a new, three- story wing. The nearby South Congregational Church, at 277 Main St, is another point- of- interest for many local residents and tourists alike.
Heading north from the Hartford Public Library, one- half a block from the Wadsworth Atheneum, is the Travelers Insurance Company Building. This 34- story building, known as the ‘Travelers Tower’, hosts an observation deck, which is open to the public, during warm- weather months. Continuing northward up Main St one block, one finds the historic Old State House, where public tours are featured. Just past the Old State House, is the historic Richardson Building, which houses the popular, multi- level City Steam Restaurant, which regularly hosts live comedy events. Less than 1 / 2 of a block from City Steam, is the newly- reopened Temple Street, which connects Main and Market Streets. Next- door to Temple St, is Capital Community College, housed in the former G. Fox Department Store Building. Also nearby, is the Hartford Crowne Plaza Hotel, which features excellent dining and entertainment options and Constitution Plaza, a three- city- block long pedestrian plaza, which hosts the annual Festival Of Lights and the Taste Of Hartford food festival.
On the eastern edge of downtown Hartford, is the new- in 2005, 540,000 square foot Connecticut Convention Center and the adjacent 22- story Marriott Hartford Hotel. Also nearby, is Riverfront Plaza, which hosts outdoor performances, events and festivals. A free bus- shuttle service named Star Shuttle operates from the Ct Convention Center and riverfront area throughout the entire downtown district Monday through Friday from 7:00 am – 11:00 pm and on Saturdays from 3:00 pm – 11:00 pm.
Among the better restaurants located in downtown Hartford, Ct are; Woody’s Hot Dogs, on Main St, Max Downtown, on Asylum St, Coach’s, on Allyn St, Peppercorn’s, on Main St, Morton’s Steakhouse, at State House Square and Feng Asian Bistro, on Asylum Street.