State Street from Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, Connecticut

Looking east on State Street from Front Street (now Columbus Boulevard) in Hartford, on November 12, 1905. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

State St. east of Front

State Street in 2016:

This same intersection was previously seen in other posts, facing north and west from here. This scene is also a block west of the photos in the previous post, which show the same elevated railroad tracks that are visible in the distance here. The first photo shows State Street facing toward the Connecticut River, as it appeared at the turn of the last century. State Street begins two block west of here at Main Street, at the commercial center of the city, with prominent banks, insurance companies, hotels, and government buildings nearby. However, as one moved further down the hill toward the river, like in this photo, the street became much less glamorous, with warehouses and other industrial uses along the railroad tracks and riverfront.

Photographer William H. Thompson captured scenes like this, using his camera to document the areas of the city that did not appear on postcards or in tourist publications. Because of this, we are able to see the largely immigrant and working-class eastern section of the city, essentially all of which was demolished in the late 1950s for the Constitution Plaza urban renewal project. Around the same time, in 1958, the Founders Bridge opened, extending State Street across the Connecticut River to East Hartford. Just beyond this intersection, it crosses over Interstate 91, which was built along the river a few years later. Just to the right in the 2016 scene is the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, which was built above I-91 and provides access to the parks along the river.

State Street from Commerce Street, Hartford, Connecticut

Looking east on State Street toward the Connecticut River, from the corner of Commerce Street, on November 19, 1905. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

Section of State St. from Commerce St. (East)

The scene in 2016:

It was hard to pinpoint the exact location of this photo, because Interstate 91 has completely obliterated the old street layout along the Connecticut River. The highway now runs directly through the 1905 scene here, but the present-day photo was taken from the plaza above the highway. So, it is the same spot as the first photo, just elevated probably about 20-30 feet.

Today, State Street extends across the Founders Bridge into East Hartford, and is a major thoroughfare in and out of the city. However, at the turn of the last century it ended here at the river, in much more humble surroundings than the busy commercial center just a few block away at the other end of the street. In the foreground is a bridge for the railroad tracks that ran along the Connecticut River, and just beyond it, in the center of the photo, was a warehouse for the Hartford & New York Transportation Company, a steamboat line that operated on the river. One of the boats is partially visible in the distance at the foot of State Street, at the city’s steamboat landing.

Steamboats have long since disappeared from the Connecticut River, along with all of the buildings here. Some were probably damaged or destroyed in the major floods of the 1930s, but any that did survive would have been gone by the 1960s, when I-91 was built through here. Today, this plaza above the highway provides riverfront access for pedestrians, and also connects to the walkway on the Founders Bridge. The only surviving remnant from the first photo is the railroad, which is still active but now mostly hidden beneath the highway.

Temple Street from Market Street, Hartford, Connecticut

Looking west on Temple Street from Market Street, around 1903-1906. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

Street scene

Temple Street in 2016:

When the first photo was taken, Temple Street extended for two block from Main Street to Front Street (now Columbus Boulevard), but it was later reduced by half, and today ends here at Market Street. This scene shows the same intersection as the photos in the previous two posts here and here, and some of the same buildings are identifiable from the other photos, including the police department building on the left in the first photo, and the commercial block/boarding house on the right, which housed everything from a barber shop to a bicycle shop to a laundromat.

Today, the only building left standing is in the distance on the right side of the street, at the corner of Main Street. Known as the Cheney Building, this Hartford landmark was completed in 1876, and was designed by prominent architect Henry Hobson Richardson. It has survived 140 years of redevelopment and urban renewal, and it is now a hotel, with shops and restaurants on the lower floors.

Market Street from Temple Street, Hartford, Connecticut (2)

Looking south on Market Street from Temple Street, on April 22, 1906. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

Market St. south of Temple

Market Street in 2016:

Taken from the same spot as the photos in the previous post, these photos here show Market Street in the opposite direction, toward State Street. This section of the street is closer to the center of downtown Hartford, so while the previous post shows older buildings used primarily for housing immigrants, this block is more commercially developed. The building on the far right in the first photo was the police station, which was built on the site of the old city hall. In the distance is the American Hotel, which was located across State Street. It opened during the first half of the 19th century, and was a prominent Hartford hotel for many years, before being demolished in 1925.

Along with the American Hotel, all of the other buildings in the first photo were eventually demolished. Based on the architecture, most of these brick commercial buildings were probably built around the 1870s or 1880s, although the wooden Greek Revival building on the left is undoubtedly older. However, they were all demolished by the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the section of Hartford north of State Street and east of Main Street was demolished and redeveloped to build Constitution Plaza.

Market Street from Temple Street, Hartford, Connecticut

Looking north on Market Street from Temple Street, around 1903-1906. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

Street scene

Market Street in 2016:

This view shows the same block as the photos in an earlier post, just viewed from the opposite direction. Like in the previous post, the only building left standing is the former St. Anthony’s Church on the left. The church is mostly hidden by other buildings in the first photo, but the cross and part of the roof are visible just to the left of the center. Aside from the church, the rest of the buildings in the first photo were a mix of residential and commercial uses, including businesses such as Sharff’s First Class Barber Shop on the left. The same building also had a bicycle shop, and several young boys appear to be looking at the bicycles that were on display on the sidewalk. According to a 1903 city directory, the building also had a laundromat, which was run by Chinese immigrant Quong Chung.

Along with Chung, there were plenty of other immigrants who lived in this neighborhood. The upper floors of the building on the left were used as a boarding house, and at the 1900 census there were at least 14 people living here, most of whom were either born in Ireland or had parents who were born there. Across the street, Quong Chung lived in the three-story, flat-roofed building on the right, which was also home to other immigrants from Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, and Russia. All of these buildings, with the exception of the church, were demolished by the early 1960s, when the neighborhood was redeveloped into Constitution Plaza.

Talcott Street from Market Street, Hartford, Connecticut

Looking west on Talcott Street from Market Street, toward Main Street, around 1903-1906. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

Street scene

Talcott Street in 2016:

These two photos were taken at the same intersection as the previously posted ones here and here, just facing in a different direction. Like the photos in earlier posts, nothing is left from the early 20th century view here. Most of the neighborhood was demolished by the early 1960s, but this section here, with its close proximity to Main Street, was demolished even sooner. In 1918, Hartford’s G. Fox department store built their new flagship store at the top of the hill on the left, and in the following decades the company expanded their facility here.

All of the buildings from the first photo were gone by the 1930s, and by this point G. Fox extended all the way from Main to Market Street, and included a parking garage across Talcott Street, which was connected via a two-story walkway over the street. The company closed in 1993 after a merger with Filene’s, which was then subsequently merged with Macy’s in 2005. The old G. Fox buildings are still standing here, though, and part of the original building is now the home of the Capital Community College, while other parts have been vacant for years.