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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Hartford (city)

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HARTFORD, a city in the town of the same name, seat of justice of Hartford co., and capital of Connecticut, the second city in the state in point of population, situated on the W. bank of the Connecticut river, at the head of sloop navigation, 50 m. by the river from Long Island sound, 33 m. N. N. E. of New Haven, 100 m. N. E. of New York, and 95 m. W. S. W. of Boston; lat. 41° 45' 59" N., lon. 72° 40' 45" W. The town extends 5½ m. N. and S. and 3 m. E. and W., embracing about 16½ sq. m. The city comprises 10 sq. m., and is about 3¼ m. long from N. to S., with an average breadth of 3 m., the width near the centre, however, being less than 2 m. It is intersected by Park river, which is spanned by 11 bridges, and is bounded W. by the N. and S. forks of that stream. A bridge across the Connecticut, 1,000 ft. long, connects it with East Hartford. The city is laid out with considerable regularity, part of the streets running nearly parallel to the river, and others crossing them E. and W. Main street, which extends from N. to S. through the principal portion of the city, is the great thoroughfare, and the seat of the principal retail trade. It is broad, and for more than a mile presents an almost unbroken range of brick and stone edifices. On this street are many of the principal public buildings and churches. State and Commerce streets are also the seats of a large and active business. Asylum street, extending W. to the railroad depot, is filled by large brick and freestone edifices, and is the seat of a very extensive and heavy business. In the outskirts are many tasteful and elegant residences; and the city, as a whole, is exceedingly well built. The state house, erected in 1794, is a handsome Doric edifice containing the legislative apartments and several law courts. In the senate chamber is an original painting of Washington by Stuart. On the E. side of the state house square a building is in course of construction for the accommodation of the post office, United States courts, &c., to cost about $300,000. The city hall, in the Grecian style, the state arsenal, the opera house, and the Union railroad depot, are among the finest of the other public edifices. The city park, embracing 46 acres, is beautifully situated in a bend of Park river, S. of the depot, and contains a fine bronze statue of Bishop Brownell and a statue of Gen. Putnam. Here the new state house, of marble, in the modern Gothic style, is in course of construction (1874). It is to be 300 ft. long by 200 ft. broad in the widest part, and 250 ft. high to the top of the dome, which is 87 ft. above the roof. Besides capacious chambers for the two houses of the legislature, it will contain rooms for the supreme court and the state library. It is to be completed in May, 1876, and will cost about $1,500,000. Besides the state house and city parks, there are two other public squares. Of the seven cemeteries, the most noteworthy is Cedar Hill in the S. W. part of the town, comprising 268 acres. The population of the town has been as follows: in 1790, 4,090; in 1800, 5,347; in 1810, 6,003; in 1820, 6,909; in 1830, 9,789; in 1840, 12,793; in 1850, 17,966; in 1860, 29,152; in 1870, 37,743, and of the city 37,180, of whom 10,817 were foreigners. The number of families was 7,427; of dwellings, 6,688.


AmCyc Hartford (city) - New State House.jpg

New State House at Hartford, Conn.


— The Connecticut river is open from about the middle of March to the middle of December. during which time steamers run daily to New York and different points on the river, and in summer to various watering places on Long Island sound. There are also lines of steamers to Philadelphia and Baltimore, and packet lines to New York, Boston, Albany, Philadelphia, and other points. Railroad communication with New York and the principal places in New England is furnished by the New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, the Hartford, Providence, and Fishkill, the Connecticut Valley, and the Connecticut Western lines; while local travel is accommodated by street cars, by omnibus to West Hartford, and stages to the neighboring towns. Hartford has an active trade with the surrounding country, and carries on an extensive wholesale business with the west and south. The tobacco of the immediate vicinity is mostly sold here. The manufactures are varied and extensive, embracing iron and brass foundery products, steam engines and boilers, screws, saddlery hardware, carriage hardware, sewing machines, files, water wheels, forgings, wire, steel, machinists' tools, plumbers' materials, lawn mowers, eyelets, stone ware, britannia ware, silver-plated ware, gold pens, spectacles, organs, carriages, sash, doors, and blinds, woollens, rag carpets, envelopes, saddlery and harness, beer, gin, soap for fulling and scouring, cigars, fertilizers, &c. Three companies are engaged in the manufacture of firearms, Sharps's rifles and Colt's pistols being manufactured here. The Colt company has a capital of $1,000,000, and possesses works and grounds covering 123 acres diked in from the river. Cheney brothers, an incorporated company, with a capital of $1,000,000, manufacture silk goods and sewing silk; their principal mills are in South Manchester. The aggregate value of the manufactures for 1873 was about $10,000,000. Including the New York and New England railroad company, with a capital of $20,000,000, there are 103 incorporated companies in Hartford, having an aggregate capital of $37,740,300, of which about one half are manufacturing companies, 8 or 10 are mining companies, and the rest are transportation companies, benevolent associations, &c. Book publishing is extensively carried on, 11 firms being engaged in the business. The greater part of the books published here are sold by subscription through agents, who are employed in all parts of the country. The city contains 14 hotels. There are 10 national banks, with an aggregate capital of $6,562,800; 2 state banks, with $650,000 capital; 5 savings institutions, with deposits, Jan. 1, 1873, amounting to $10,041,600 65; and 3 trust companies, with a capital of $650,000. The deposits of “the society for savings,” incorporated in 1819, alone amounted to $7,020,544 54. The insurance business is proportionally far more extensive than that of any other city of the United States, and has ramifications all parts of the country. The number of fire insurance companies is 8, having an aggregate capital of $7,100,000, besides 2 mutual companies, with cash assets, Jan. 1, 1873, amounting to $152,341 18. The oldest company is the Hartford, incorporated in 1810, and having a capital of $1,000,000. The Ætna, with a capital of $3,000,000, was incorporated in 1819, and in 54 years paid losses to the amount of $39,000,000. There are 8 life insurance companies (3 mutual), a life and accident, and an accident insurance company, having gross assets, Jan. 1, 1873, to the amount of $78,330,201. The Connecticut mutual company, incorporated in 1846, had nearly $35,000,000 assets; the Ætna, over $17,500,000; the Connecticut general, about $10,800,000; and the Phœnix mutual, over $8,000,000. The aggregate assets of the banking and insurance companies at the beginning of 1874 were over $135,000,000. — The city is divided into 7 wards, and is governed by a mayor holding office for two years, a board of aldermen of 14, and a common council of 28 members. One alderman is elected annually from each ward for two years; the councilmen hold office one year. The recorder holds the city court, and the police judge, with an associate, the police court. The police force consists of 40 men. A paid fire department was organized in 1864; it comprises six steam engines, one hook and ladder, and two hose companies. A fire alarm telegraph is in operation, with 35 alarm boxes, and there are 261 hydrants and 5 reservoirs. Works were erected in 1855 (still maintained to meet any emergency) for pumping water from the Connecticut river, which supplied the city till 1867, when the new works at West Hartford went into operation. These works furnish water from a stream in that town to two reservoirs, one having a capacity of 165,000,000 and the other of 229,000,000 gallons, whence it is distributed through nearly 54 m. of mains. The total cost of apparatus for supplying the city with water to March 1, 1873, was $1,065,826. The streets are well paved and drained, and lighted with gas. The ordinary receipts into the city treasury for the year ending April 1, 1873, amounted to $638,691 72; the ordinary expenditures, including $100,000 for the purchase of the Trinity college grounds, were $648,196 16; total receipts, $1,160,115 05; total expenditures, $1,157,793 89. The floating debt was $221,404; funded debt, $1,986,000. The sinking fund amounted to $161,167. The grand list, or assessed valuation of the town, in 1860, was $24,813,190; in 1865, $36,948,305; in 1870, $44,509,427; in 1872, $45,676,497. Sessions of the United States circuit and district courts are held here annually. — The benevolent organizations of Hartford are numerous. The American deaf and dumb asylum was chartered in 1816. The main building is 130 ft. by 50, and four stories high. In 1873 the asylum had 18 teachers, 280 pupils, and a library of 2,500 volumes. (See Deaf and Dumb.) The Connecticut retreat for the insane, chartered in 1824, is situated on a commanding eminence just outside the city, surrounded by about 17 acres of ground pleasantly laid out in gardens and walks. The main edifice is of freestone plastered over with cement. The number of officers and attendants, Jan. 1, 1874, was 32; of patients, 139. The Hartford hospital was incorporated in 1854; the buildings with the grounds, 7 acres in extent, cost $188,495 60; the hospital has accommodations for 100 patients, and possesses a permanent fund of $153,500. The Hartford orphan asylum was established in 1833. Among other charitable organizations are the Hartford dispensary, the city missionary society, the Connecticut home missionary society, the Connecticut Bible society, and the missionary society of Connecticut, organized in 1798, “to Christianize the heathen in North America, and to promote Christian knowledge in new settlements in the United States.” There are 90 unincorporated societies for benevolent, social, and other purposes, including 10 lodges of freemasons, 3 of odd fellows, and 20 temperance societies. The county jail, situated in Pearl street, has 96 cells. A new building is in course of erection further N. Among the educational institutions, the most prominent is Trinity college (Episcopal), founded in 1823, and having in 1873-'4 17 professors and instructors, 94 students, and a library of 15,000 volumes. The buildings, comprising three stone halls, called respectively Seabury, Jarvis, and Brownell, occupy (1874) a site on the W. side of Trinity street, adjacent to the city park. The grounds, however, have been sold to the city, the trustees reserving the right to use them until April, 1877, with the exception of Brownell hall, a portion of which has been demolished to make room for the new state house. A new site for the college, about a mile south of the present one, has been purchased. (See Trinity College.) The theological institute of Connecticut (Congregational) was chartered in 1834, and in 1873-'4 had 3 professors, 18 students, and a library of 7,000 volumes. The Hartford female seminary, founded in 1823, had in 1872 3 instructors and 123 pupils. There are 13 select schools. The town is divided into 10 school districts. The number of public school houses in 1873 was 16, containing 105 rooms and 5 halls; number of teachers, 128; children of school age (4 to 16), 9,138; whole number registered, 6,905; average attendance, about 4,000. The total expenditure for school purposes was $171,814 46, of which $91,674 85 was for teachers' wages. The two evening schools had 10 teachers and 501 pupils. The high school was established by vote of the town in March, 1847, and the first building was completed in December of that year. A new building, one of the finest school edifices in the country, was erected in 1869 on a handsome site a short distance S. W. of the union depot. It is 100 by 85 ft. in its external dimensions, and consists of two stories surmounted by a Mansard roof, with a raised basement. On the N. E. corner is a tower 120 ft. high, containing a clock and an observatory, and on the S. E. corner is another tower 68 ft. high. It was constructed of brick and stone, at a cost of about $102,000, and will accommodate 409 scholars. The number of teachers in 1873 was 15; of pupils, 404. The number of volumes in the school libraries is about 3,000. The schools are under the supervision of a board of 9 visitors, besides which there is a committee for each district and the high school. The Hartford grammar school, the oldest educational institution in the state, was first endowed with a gift of land by William Gibbins in 1655, and about 10 years afterward received a considerable sum from the estate of Governor Edward Hopkins. It was incorporated in 1798. The scholars must pursue a classical course of study. Tuition is free. Since the organization of the high school, the grammar school has practically formed part of the classical department of that institution, though governed by its own board of trustees. There are 4 daily and 8 weekly newspapers, and 3 monthly periodicals, of which one is published by the students of Trinity college. The Wadsworth athenæum, in Main street, is a castellated granite building, 100 ft. long by 80 ft. deep in the centre and 70 ft. deep on the wings, with central towers 70 ft. and corner buttresses 56 ft. high. Its cost, over $60,000, was defrayed by the contributions of citizens. In this building are the reading room and library (containing 23,000 volumes) of the young men's institute; the rooms of the Connecticut historical society, which possesses a library of 16,000 volumes; the Watkinson library (27,000 volumes); and a gallery of valuable paintings and statuary. The state library contains 12,000 volumes. The Connecticut school of design was chartered in 1872. There are 26 churches, of which 11 are in Main street within a distance of a mile, and 7 chapels. The number of religious societies is 40, viz.: 5 Baptist, 1 Catholic Apostolic, 1 Church of Christ, 12 Congregational, 8 Episcopal, 2 Jewish, 4 Methodist, 1 Presbyterian, 2 Roman Catholic, 1 Second Advent, 1 Spiritualist, 1 Unitarian, and 1 Universalist. Besides the Sunday schools connected with the churches, there are 3 mission Sunday schools, with 60 teachers, 470 pupils, and libraries containing 1,000 volumes. The corner stone of a Roman Catholic cathedral to be erected on Farmington avenue was laid in 1873. — Hartford was first settled in 1635 by emigrants from Newtown (now Cambridge), Mass., and from Dorchester and Watertown, many of whom had come originally from Braintree, England. The present locality of Hartford was called by the Indians Suckiaug. The first settlers named it Newtown; but in 1637 it was formally called Hartford, after Hertford, England, the birthplace of the Rev. Samuel Stone, one of the first pastors of the settlement. In 1633 the Dutch had erected a fort on Dutch point, at the confluence of the Park and Connecticut rivers, within the present limits of Hartford; but in 1654 they were dispossessed by an act of the general court, and the new colony came entirely into the hands of the English. Among the early settlers were a number who had been persons of eminence and affluence in England, and who were held in high honor through all the New England settlements, many of whom were founders of families yet prominent in the city. The first town organization admitted inhabitants, and even temporary residents, only by vote of the town meeting. There was a public market semi-weekly, and a public fair twice every year. The first town meeting was held in 1635, and the first general court of Connecticut in 1636. The first church came ready organized from Cambridge, with its pastors, Hooker and Stone; and its first house of worship was erected in 1638. The first war was the Pequot war in 1637, for which Hartford contributed 43 out of 90 men, including commander and chaplain, besides a large share of provisions, equipments, &c. In 1639 a constitution for the government of the colony was formed. (See Connecticut, vol. v., p. 260.) A school was in operation in 1638, and in 1643 £16 a year was voted to the teacher. A house correction was in operation in 1640; the first inn was ordered by the general court and established in 1644. In 1650 the first code of laws was drawn up, chiefly by Roger Ludlow, which reduced the number of capital offences from 160, under English law, to 15. In 1687 the independent spirit of the colony was shown by their quiet but determined resistance to Andros, in his attempt to take away the charter of 1662, when, according to current accounts, the lights in the council chamber were all in an instant extinguished, and the charter seized and carried off in the dark, and hid in the famous “charter oak.” (See Andros, Sir Edmund.) In 1764 the first printing office was set up by Thomas Green. In 1775 a patriotic and enterprising committee met and made arrangements for raising men and money, which resulted in the taking of Ticonderoga. In 1784 the city was incorporated; in 1792 the first bank and first charitable society were established. From the union of the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven in 1665 till 1701 the legislature met in Hartford; between the latter date and 1818 one stated session was held in Hartford and one in New Haven each year; and from 1819 to 1874 there was an annual session at those places alternately. In 1875, by virtue of a constitutional amendment ratified by a popular vote in 1873, Hartford is again to become the sole capital.