How Do Suburbanites Relate to the City of Hartford?

We found from our survey data that most participants spend time in Hartford attending art events, going to restaurants and working.  Residents came to Hartford the least for school and to spend time with family. 

Percentages to the number of suburbanite responses: Arts 68%; Restaurants 55%; Work 46%; Medical 34%; Sports Venues 34%; Family 17%; and School 6.5% respectively.

What do Connecticut residents say about Hartford as a city?


Although some participants reflected positively on recent developments in Hartford, generally, opinions of the capital city skewed negative. The quotes below come from the suburban residents we interviewed. 

A lack of vibrancy and disappointing attractions


Interview participants mentioned visiting Hartford for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Hartford Marathon, and Hartford Yard Goats games. However, people generally seem to think of Hartford as a slow-paced city.

“People want the city to be better. A more vibrant city. A destination.” (West Hartford resident) 

“[Hartford is] dreary…Not a lot happening.” (West Hartford resident)

“We need to make Hartford an attractive place for businesses and young families.” (West Hartford resident)

Safety concerns


Though some interview and focus group participants recognized safety concerns exist in all cities, several participants reported feeling somewhat unsafe in Hartford.

“[Hartford is] a heroin hotspot.” (Southington resident)

“[T]here’s not safe areas, so where is it okay to go? Where my friend lives it’s a safe area, but someone got shot across the street. So, typically a safe area and then she told me that and she said ‘It’s still a safe area’ and I’m like ‘Okay!’ So it’s kind of a little unnerving. Where is it okay to navigate?…It’s like that in any city. It is a city.” (Glastonbury resident)

Mismanaged municipal government


While many interview and focus group participants admitted they do not know about the city government, others held strong opinions about the management of the city.

“Too much dissension [and] not enough agreement on important issues.” (Bloomfield resident)

“Hartford has a history of incompetence.” (West Hartford resident)

“This is what the problem is with these people, they are trying to put a band-aid on a problem that requires an amputation. Plus, if you do this for Hartford you do this for all towns, that’s what I say to Malloy and the legislators up there.” (Southington resident)

“My gut reaction is that [Hartford’s local government is] kind of dysfunctional.” (Glastonbury resident)

Positive Outlook for Hartford


Despite the negative views shared about attractions, safety, and municipal government, the same participants often spoke positively about Hartford’s future.

“People want the city to be better. A more vibrant city. A destination.” (West Hartford resident)

“Area towns and suburbs need to understand that Hartford is part of their future. Healthy Hartford is good for them…Connecticut is made of fiefdoms that only look after themselves. There needs to be a sense of we’re one region instead of fiefdoms.” (Simsbury resident)

“Nobody wants to see the cities go bankrupt – we would all love to contribute something if we can get some concessions on how [the Hartford government is] going to manage in the future.”  (Bloomfield resident)

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