Hartford’s Innovation, Manufacturing History Highlighted in Exhibits at Smithsonian and State Capitol

On Wednesday, July 13, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History will make public a special portion of their collection with “Objects Out of Storage: Hartford, CT.”  The special exhibit, led by curator Susan Tolbert and historian Eric Hinz, will take place at noontime in the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in the nation’s Capitol.banner-POI-sign-ET2015-4379_1 Describing Hartford’s prominent manufacturing history, Hinz said “Hartford, CT, is a classic story in the history of American technology. If you have ever wondered why people refer to “Yankee ingenuity,” this is what they are talking about.”  He adds, “In the mid and late 1800s, the United States overtakes Great Britain as the world’s foremost economic superpower, largely on the strength of its prowess in inventing and manufacturing new technologies. Hartford is at the center of that revolution.”

Hartford, described as “one of the birthplaces of American mass production,” is well represented in the ongoing exhibit, Places of Invention, which “takes visitors on a journey through time and place to meet people who lived, worked, played, collaborated, adapted, took risks, solved problems, and sometimes failed—all in the pursuit of something new.”

HartfordThe exhibit notes that by the 1850’s “Hartford became the center of production for a wide array of products—including firearms by Colt, Richard Gatling and John Browning; Weed sewing machines; Royal and Underwood typewriters; Columbia bicycles; and even Pope automobiles.”lemelson

The Lemelson Center is located at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Constitution Avenue between 12th and 14th Street NW, in Washington, DC. The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation is located on the Museum's first floor in its Innovation Wing. In the exhibit, which debuted  last summer, Hartford is featured with Silicon Valley and just four other locations: Hollywood, home of Technicolor; the Medical Alley of Minnesota, where cardiac innovations of the 1950s flourished; the Bronx, N.Y., birthplace of hip-hop in the 1970s; and the current, clean-energy innovations of Ft. Collins, Colo.

Among the featured innovations on display is the bicycle, manufactured for the first time in the United States in Hartford.  As the Smithsonian historian explains, “sensing a commercial opportunity, Albert Pope began importing bicycles from England and hatched a plan to produce them domestically in 1877. Within a year, Pope rode the train from Boston to Hartford, then, ‘to the amazement of the city’s onlookers, plantrode his high-wheeler from the station down Capitol Avenue to the Weed Sewing Machine Company.’”

The history continues: “Pope approached factory superintendent George Fairfield with a proposal: would Weed agree to build a test run of 50 bicycles under contract? When Fairfield agreed, Pope (via the Weed Sewing Machine Company) became the first domestic manufacturer of bicycles in the United States. By 1895, Pope’s expanded Hartford operations included five factories set on 17 acres, employing 4,000 workers, making him Hartford’s largest employer.” Pope manufactured bicycles, motorcycles, and automobiles.

That chapter in Hartford history has recently captured the imagination of a well-known Hartford artist, whose cut-paper recreations of that chapter of the city’s transportation and recreation breakthrough is now available for display, having just completed an exhibition at the Connecticut State Capitol.

IMG_0185Jeanne Manzelli, a resident of Windsor, has a IMG_0176BFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and her MED in Art Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her experience includes a 20 year career in design, manufacture, appraisal and sale of jewelry, two decades as mural artist working closely with interior designers as an industry professional, and 14 years teaching basic and advanced drawing, sculpture and 3D design as well as color theory at Tunxis Community College.

Her latest endeavor is a departure, and a salute to an innovation from a century and a half ago. The intricate designs, accompanied by information panels highlighting the history, are now available to be displayed at public facilities, such as schools, libraries, and community centers.  Manzelli looks forward to sharing her work (and is seeking a sponsor to underwrite the exhibit), as well as stimulating a conversation about innovation in Hartford, then and now.


3 Cities, 3 Towns from CT Take Up National Challenge on Pedestrian, Bicyclist Safety to Launch Thursday

Six Connecticut towns and cities are among the first 150 in the nation to respond to a challenge issued by U.S. Secretary of Transportation (USDOT) Anthony Foxx aimed at promoting bicyclist and pedestrian safety.  The year-long nationwide initiative will officially kick-off this Thursday. The chief elected officials of the cities of Hartford, Stamford, and Bridgeport, and the towns of Glastonbury, Simsbury, and South Windsor have signed on to the Mayor’s Challenge, announced earlier this year at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  The Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets is a call to action by Secretary Foxx for mayors and local elected officials  to take significant action to improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities over the next year.mayors

The challenge is based on the 2010 USDOT Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. In the policy statements, USDOT recognizes the many benefits walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life.

The challenge calls on Mayors, First Selectmen and other chief elected officials to:sign_ped-bike-share

  • Issue a public statement about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety
  • Form a local action team to advance safety and accessibility goals
  • Take local action through seven Challenge activities (listed below)

In Connecticut, the advocacy organization Bike Walk Connecticut is urging Connecticut's chief elected officials to participate in the challenge and engage their residents in carrying out the initiative’s objectives. They applauded Foxx, a former Mayor of Charlotte, N.C., for making “bicycle and pedestrian safety is his signature issue as the head of USDOT.”

The challenge activities, as outlined by USDOT, include:

  • Take a Complete Streets approach
  • Identify and address barriers to make streets safe and convenient for all road users, including people of all ages and abilities and those using assistive mobility devices
  • Gather and track biking and walking data
  • Use designs that are appropriate to the context of the street and its uses
  • Take advantage of opportunities to create and complete ped-bike networks through maintenance
  • Improve walking and biking safety laws and regulations
  • Educate and enforce proper road use behavior by all

A total of 154 cities nationwide have signed on as of March 6, with the official kick-off later this week in Washington, D.C.  Additional municipalities in Connecticut and across the country are expected to add their names to the list of participating cities.  USDOT has invited Mayors' Challenge participants to attend the Mayors' Challenge Summit kick-off event at USDOT’s Headquarters’ office in the nation's capital on Thursday, March 12. The Summit will bring together participating cities to network and learn more about the Challenge activities, and USDOT staff members will share the resources and tools available to help cities with Challenge activities.

Federal officials note that the lack of systematic data collection related to walking and bicycling transportation, such as count data, travel survey data, and injury data, creates challenges for improving non-Cycling to Workmotorized transportation networks and safety. Communities that routinely collect walking and biking data, they point out, are better positioned to track trends and prioritize investments.

In advocating a “complete streets” approach, USDOT emphasizes that complete streets “make it safe and convenient for people of all ages and abilities to reach their destination whether by car, train, bike, or foot” and they call for “a policy commitment to prioritize and integrate all road users into every transportation project.”

Bike Walk Connecticut has reported that there were 49 bicycle or pedestrian fatalities in Connecticut in 2012, the most recent data available.  There were an additional 1,226 injuries to bicyclists or pedestrians.  In total, from 2006 to 2012, there were more than 10,000 injuries and nearly 300 fatalities from crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists, according to the organization, based on federal and state data.

CT Slips from #18 to #21 in State Bikeability Comparison

Connecticut has dropped from 18th to 21st in the rankings of the bicycle-friendliest states, according to the League of American Bicyclists 2014 survey. Every year, the League ranks all 50 states on their bikeability, based on a mutli-faceted Bicycle Friendly State℠ questionnaire. They look at five categories: Legislation & Enforcement, Policies & Programs, Infrastructure & Funding, Education & Encouragement, and Evaluation & Planning.

Overall, the state received 40 out of 100 points, slightly less that the 40.9 earned a year ago, when Connecticut ranked 18th.

On aBFA_SurveyButton_0 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being the highest grade, Connecticut received a 4 in legislation & enforcement, 3 in policies & programs, 3 in education & encouragement, and a 1 in infrastructure & funding.

The top-ranked states were Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Delaware, Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Utah and California.  Connecticut, ranked 21st, was between Idaho and Tennessee. The top state in New England for bicyclists was Massachusetts, ranked 10th, according to the survey.bike to work

The survey highlights "10 signs of success" in analyzing each of the states.  Connecticut currently has 6 of the 10 in place, according to the survey report:  an active state advocacy group, Complete Streets policy, state bicycle plan, bicycle safety emphasis in the strategic highway safety plan, bicycle education for police, and a safe passing/vulnerable user law.

The Bicycle Friendly State℠ program is designed to establish best practices in states across the program.  In the 2014 survey, the least bicycle-friendly states were Alabama, Montana, and Kentucky.

The League, established in 1880, represents bicyclists in the movement to create
 safer roads, stronger communities, and a bicycle-friendly America. Through information, advocacy and promotion, the organization works to celebrate and preserve the freedom cycling brings to members everywhere.



More Bicycling, Walking to Work; New Haven Leads the Way in Connecticut

Connecticut has the smallest percentage of people walking to work among states in the Northeast, and is one of two states with the smallest percentage of people who bicycle to work, according to newly released U.S. Census data.  Nationwide, both walking and bicycling to work are on the rise. Between 2000 and 2008–2012, the number of workers in the U.S. who traveled to work by bicycle increased by 60.8 percent, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000. This increase in the number of bicycle commuters exceeded the percentage increase of all other travel modes during that period, but the overall share of workers who commute bnew haveny bicycle remains low, according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey. In 1980, 0.5 percent of workers commuted by bicycle. This rate dropped to 0.4 percent in 1990, where it remained in 2000, before nudging upward in the latest survey.

The 2008–2012 5-year data show that, among the approximately 140 million workers in the United States during that period, 2.8 percent walked to work and 0.6 percent commuted by bicycle, compared with 86.2 percent of workers who drove alone or carpooled to work.

walk toAmong the nation’s medium sized-cities, (with pbike to workopulations between 100,000 and 199,999) New Haven ranks at #5 with 12.4 percent walking to work and at #10 with 2.7 percent of the population using bicycles to get to work. Hartford ranks at #10 among the top walk-to-work medium sized cities with 8.2 percent, and did not reach the top 15 in bicyclists.

The top medium-sized cities for percent of the population walking to work were Cambridge, Berkley, Ann Arbor, and Provo, just ahead of New Haven. The top bicycle-to-work medium sized cities were Boulder, Eugene, Berkeley, Cambridge, and Fort Collins.

The nation’s #1 walk-to-work city is Boston (15.1 percent) followed by Washington, Pittsburgh, New York, San Francisco and Madison. For bicycling to work, the top cities are Portland (6.1 percent), Madison, Minneapolis, Boise and Seattle.

The nationwide data indicates that:

  • The combined rate of bicycle commuting for the 50 largest U.S. cities increased from 0.6 percent in 2000 to 1.0 percent in 2008–2012.
  • The Northeast showed the highest rate of walking to work at 4.7 percent of workers, while the West had the highest rate of biking to work at 1.1 percent. The South had the lowest rate of biking and walking to work.
  • Younger workers, those aged 16 to 24, had the highest rate of walking to work at 6.8 percent.
  • At 0.8 percent, the rate of bicycle commuting for men was more than double that of women at 0.3 percent.

The percentage of workers age 16 and over who carpool to work is below 10 percent in each of Connecticut’s eight counties, with the exception of Windham County, at 10.5 percent.

Fairfield County has longest commute, most use of mass transit

The walk to workaverage commute to work in Connecticut is about 25 minutes, ranging from 28 minutes in Fairfield County, 27 minutes in Litchfield County, 26 minutes in Windham County, 25 minutes in Middlesex County and Tolland County, to 24 minutes in New Haven County, 23 minutes in New London County, and 22 minutes in Hartford County.

The highest percentage of workers using public transportation to reach their place of employment each day is in Fairfield County, at 8.9 percent, more than double the percentage of the next highest county, New Haven County, at 4.1 percent.

The Census Bureau released a new commuting edition of the interactive map Census Explorer, which gives Web visitors easy click-and-zoom access to commuting statistics for every neighborhood in the U.S. It also shows how commuting has changed since 1990 at the neighborhood, county and state level — including how long it takes to get to work, commutes longer than an hour, and number of bikers. It uses statistics from the American Community Survey, the national source of commuting statistics down to the neighborhood level.