Hartford's Way Forward: Blue, Green and Walkable

Hartford’s status as one of the nation’s most promising triple-threat cities of the 21st century will be on full display in the coming months.  EnvisionFest in September and Riverfront Recapture’s annual Big Mo’ Block Party in  October will celebrate  a city where (1) America’s first National Blueway meets the (2) Greenway of one of the nation’s (3) most walkable cities. First National Blueway

This spring, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar established a National Blueways System and announced that the 410-mile-long Connecticut River and its 7.2 million-acre watershed will be the first National Blueway— covering areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.  In ceremonies at Riverside Park in Hartford, Salazar said that partnerships along the Connecticut River provide an example for the rest of the nation.

"The Connecticut River Watershed is a model for how communities can integrate their land and water stewardship efforts with an emphasis on 'source-to-sea' watershed conservation," he said. "I am pleased to recognize the Connecticut River and its watershed with the first National Blueway designation as we seek to fulfill President Obama's vision for healthy and accessible rivers that are the lifeblood of our communities and power our economies."

The new National Blueways System is part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to establish a community-driven conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century. Establishment of a National Blueways System will help coordinate federal, state, and local partners to promote best practices, share information and resources, and encourage active and collaborative stewardship of rivers and their watersheds across the country.

Walkable City

Earlier this year, Prevention magazine rated Hartford as the #13 most walkable city in the nation, stating that “Car-free recreation is one of the city's selling points—and proof that it's taken full advantage of state funding for safer, better pedestrian access. From wide promenades to intersections that take pedestrians out of the periphery and into easy view, Hartford is more walker-friendly than ever.”

The designation also noted that walkers can “Hop between attractions like the Riverfront and the Arts and Entertainment District, as well as the city's abundant parks—and know that you're never going to ‘run out’ of sidewalk, or safe places to cross.”

First EnvisionFest is September 29

Those features will be on prominent display on September29 during EnvisionFest, Hartford’s newest celebratory event that is being designed to showcase and celebrate the ingenuity of the city’s and state’s industries, artists and people, providing a glimpse of the city’s future by encouraging people to experience the recently developed iQuilt Plan through walking, culture and innovation.

Hartford cultural institutions, Connecticut industries and artists will celebrate their vision of the future through interactive displays, exhibits, performances and activities in open houses and public spaces throughout downtown, all connected through walking and biking routes.

iQuilt Greenway

The iQuilt vision will be displayed on September 29 along the GreenWalk, along with sidewalk activities and prototypes of seating, lighting and signage. Walking throughout downtown will bring you to various Hartford destinations connected with food, drink, music, artists and activities.

Downtown Hartford is an unusually compact historic district packed with more than 45 cultural assets and destinations within a 15-minute walk: museums, performance spaces, historic landmarks, modern architecture, and public art.  The iQuilt Plan links those assets with a vibrant and innovative pedestrian network. Its centerpiece is the GreenWalk, a one-mile chain of parks and plazas connecting the gold-domed Capitol in Bushnell Park to the waterfront of the Connecticut River.

Walk the Walk(s)

Riverfront Recapture is a non-profit organization dedicated for three decades to restoring public access to the riverfront along the Connecticut River in Hartford and East Hartford.  It's annual Big Mo fundraiser on October 12 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Riverfront Boathouse in Hartford.  The organization’s four parks, which cover four miles of pristine shoreline and 148 acres, are connected by a growing network of riverwalks.  In addition to physically constructing the parks, Riverfront Recapture is also responsible for managing, maintaining and programming the parks, producing events and offering activities. In 2010, Riverfront Recapture set an attendance record with more than 960,000 people coming the Riverfront to enjoy the parks and the many festivals, concerts, and sporting events.