The New International Encyclopædia/Hartford
HART′FORD. A city and port of entry, the capital of Connecticut, and the county-seat of Hartford County, 124 miles west by south of Boston, 32 miles north-northeast of New Haven, and 111 miles northeast of New York; on the Central New England, the New York, New Haven and Hartford, and the Connecticut Valley railroads (Map: Connecticut, E 2). It is situated at the head of navigation for large vessels on the Connecticut River. 50 miles from Long Island Sound, and at the mouth of Park River, a narrow stream that flows through the city, being crossed by several bridges. Hartford has a fine site, its more elevated sections commanding grand views of the Connecticut Valley, and is regularly laid out over an area of about 17 square miles. Much historical interest attaches to the city, the memory of its prominence in Colonial as well as in later times being preserved in several of its churches and houses, in its localities, and in its interesting collections of relics. The old State House, in which the Hartford Convention (q.v.) met, now serves as the city hall; and the new Capitol is a large and beautiful structure of white marble, with portraits and statues of famous persons. Several of the insurance companies for which Hartford is noted occupy fine offices, and among other pretentious buildings are the high school, Young Men's Christian Association building, State Arsenal, post-office, Wadsworth Athenæum, and Saint Joseph's Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop (Roman Catholic) of Hartford. Among the charitable institutions are Hartford and Saint Joseph's hospitals, Hartford Orphan Asylum, Old People's Home, Retreat for the Insane, American Asylum for the Deaf, and Asylum for the Blind. Hartford is the seat of Trinity College (q.v.) and of the Hartford Theological Seminary (Congregational) founded in 1834. Besides the libraries of these educational institutions, there are the State, Public, Watkinson, and Historical Society libraries. The city has a number of parks: Bushnell Park (46 acres), the site of the State Capitol, and Charter Oak Park, famous for its fair-grounds and trotting track; also Keney, Elizabeth, South, Riverside, Pope, and other parks.
In 1887 Hartford was made a port of entry. It has considerable commercial importance, but is most widely known as the centre of vast insurance interests and for its manufacturing concerns. The principal manufactures are bicycles, firearms, Gatling guns, woven wire, mattresses, screws, nails, pins, envelopes, steam boilers and engines, machinery, car-wheels, hosiery, knit goods, furniture, carriages, and electric vehicles. The city also controls an extensive trade in Connecticut tobacco. The government, as provided by the charter of 1850, revised in 1880, is vested in a mayor, elected biennially, a bicameral council, and subordinate administrative officials, as follows: Fire, street, health, charity, police, and water commissioners, building inspector, and city attorney, appointed by the executive with the consent of the board of aldermen, and city clerk, collector, auditor, treasurer, marshal, and school board, chosen by popular election. The park commissioners make appointments to fill vacancies on their own board. The annual income and expenditures of the city amount to about $2,390,000 and $2,215,000 respectively, the principal items of expense being $55,000 for street-lighting. $95,000 for charitable institutions, $100,000 for the fire department, $125,000 for the police department, and $315,000 for schools. The city owns its water-works, which are operated at a yearly cost of $55,000. Population, in 1800, 5347; in 1850, 17,966; in 1870, 37,180; in 1880, 42,015; in 1890, 53,230; in 1900, 79,850, including 23,800 persons of foreign birth, and 1900 of negro descent.
In 1633 the Dutch built on what is still known as Dutch Point a fort which they called the ‘House of Hope.’ A number of Massachusetts colonists, mostly from Newtowne (Cambridge), left their homes in 1635 and 1636, partly because of a dispute over the civil rights of non-church members, and, led by their pastors, Thomas Hooker (q.v.) and Samuel Stone, settled at Hartford. The name Newtown was at first adopted, but in 1637 it was discarded for Hartford—Hertford, England, being the birthplace of Stone. On January 14, 1639, the freemen of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield met at Hartford and, influenced by Hooker, adopted the famous ‘Fundamental Orders of Connecticut,’ the first written constitution adopted by a people that ever organized a government. For this reason Hartford is frequently called the ‘birthplace of American democracy.’ On September 19, 1650, Peter Stuvvesant and commissioners from the ‘United Colonies’ signed a treaty at Hartford by which boundary disputes were adjusted, and the Dutch confirmed in possession of their fort. In 1654, however, this fort was seized, and the Dutch expelled from Connecticut. In 1687 Governor Andros came to Hartford and made an attempt to seize the Connecticut charter. (See Charter Oak.) Washington and Rochambeau met here in 1780 to plan the Yorktown campaign, and in 1814-15 the Hartford Convention (q.v.) was in session here. Until 1701 Hartford was the capital of Connecticut; from 1701 to 1873 it shared that honor with New Haven; and since 1875 it has been sole capital. Noah Webster, Henry Barnard, John Fiske, Richard Burton, and Frederick Law Olmsted were born in Hartford, and among the notable writers who have made it their home are Harriet Beecher Stowe, Whittier, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, John Trumbull, Joel Barlow, Horace Bushnell, Charles Dudley Warner, and Samuel L. Clemens. Consult: Trumbull, The Memorial History of Hartford County (Boston, 1886); and sketches in Powell, Historic Towns of the New England States (New York, 1898), and Connecticut Magazine, vol. v. (Hartford, 1899).