After completing Tennessee and Florida, my trip to New England is my first of many to places that I’ve never had a reason to visit.
My preconceived notions of Connecticut (derived from caricatures in movies and television) are that most of the people wished they lived in New York or Boston (or Providence) but can’t afford the prices in either locale, or that people were WASP-y old money that has more resources than motivation to strike out from where they were raised.
Imagine my surprise when I find that most cities in Connecticut were the opposite of high class country clubs and homes with manicured lawns! Other than New Haven and some pockets of Hartford, the rest of the state seemed to be in an economic depression.
I made a ring around the state over the course of 2 days, starting in Hartford and saw everything from urban to rural, thriving to decay.
New Haven definitely was the highlight for me – the architecture of Yale’s campus really does inspire awe. More than just the campus, the whole city is dripping with history, great eats, and interesting spots to visit.
The most sad has to be Bridgeport. I can almost imagine how it was back in the 60s and 70s – a booming town with a vibrant center. Now, its a shell of what once was. The only people I witnessed in downtown Bridgeport were the homeless population tucked into the alcoves of the historic storefronts. Empty buildings for rent and others falling in on themselves really drive home the fact that Fairfield County is mostly a bedroom community for those that commute in to NYC to work and play.
The more rural counties – Litchfield, Tolland, Windham, Norwich – speak to the fact that the woes of small town USA aren’t confined to the south. The struggle for small business and housing is everywhere.
More than anything else, I took away the hope that if the towns in New England have sustained themselves since the early 1700s then it is possible for towns anywhere to do the same.