Demise of the American City - Hartford, CT: Part 1 - Observations

Posted On: Friday - July 21st 2023 7:25AM MST
In Topics: 
  Americans  The Future

The small portion of a Tucker Carlson interview of Mike Pence that we discussed in our most recent post (Wednesday) included Tucker Carlson's mention of the sorry state of America's cities. Not to repeat the discussion there, but, yes, Pence was right if his point was simply that the job of the President of the US does not include taking care of American cities. OTOH, it doesn't include sending weapons of war to foreign countries fighting other foreign countries on which the US Congress had not voted to declare war either!

I was on the side of President Gerald Ford when he, per the New York Daily New's paraphrase, told then-broke New York City to drop dead in 1975. Were a (God forbid!) President Mike Pence to tell Hartford, Connecticut or any other city in America begging for US taxpayer dollars the same thing, I'd gain a little respect for him.

Tucker Carlson was right in his more basic point that this country is going downhill fast (so it's ludicrous to send billions of $ to the Ukraine). He's right about American cities.

OK, it's great we can say "I told you so" about the left-coast cities of San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, or the Big One, NYC, as their Socialist and Black!-worship policies have come back to bite them in their asses. It's every American city I've been to that is falling fast though. Perhaps there are some trends based on geography, and definitely some political factors, but this goes beyond all that. The world is changing. The demise of the city may be an inherent and important part of the transition into the future.

Due to business reasons, we were in Hartford, Connecticut, and I had a few hours to get out and about. This is not some unique place - it's just an old established American city.

Hartford has been the sole* capital of the State of Connecticut since 1875. It's known as the "Insurance Capital of the World". Hartford was the richest city in the country for a few decades after the War Between the States, but wiki says it's the poorest now. Does that make this post an act of cherry-picking? No, the Cherry Capital is Traverse City, Michigan. OK, seriously, no, because, as you'll see this post is about an outwardly normal looking city, and the observations I'll make here are the same as I could in other cities of the same size that I've been to recently. I just took pictures this time.

I'll make observations only, in this post. I'm sure the PS reader will have plenty of thoughts on the reasons behind these observations, but I'll hold those thoughts of mine until Part 2 tomorrow.

Note in the picture above that the buildings and the lighting look modern enough. The downtown doesn't look run-down at a first and far-enough off glance. This scene is from nearby the other big buildings.

There are SOME people downtown, as this parking lot indicates - this wasn't the peak (trough, really) of the PanicFest - it was a few weeks ago. Where are these particular people, working in some of the offices? With major insurance companies based here and the many State offices, you'd think office work would be a big thing here. Things are changing though ...

Office workers have to eat lunch sometime (around noon, I guess), and they have to take care of errands. That's supposed to be one of the benefits of being in the city - convenience. There were not many people out and about, and hardly any people dressed in office attire.

I am used to medium sized American cities being virtually ghost towns after office hours, due to the pervasive Black! influence in the inner cities. However, I've seen positive changes over the last 2 decades on that score as more people LIVE, rather than just work, in the downtowns. You all know what those standard-issue condo buildings look like - all the same design, high rent, but you've got that coffee shop on the ground floor and maybe a couple of pool tables...

That gentrification (pricing out the ghetto dwellers) has been a good thing for cites , but things are changing again though...

A significant portion of the few people walking around that day in Hartford were bums. The smell of urine was all over, except when the smell of skunkweed overpowered it... a good thing... barely. I came upon this fairly high office tower that is now vacant.

A big sign on the glass in front says that this place is up for residential rental. There's a lot of conversion of office space to living space now. You don't get your balconies and that, but it's all location, location, location, right? That is, if this still IS a good location.

There was me, a couple of bums, and some other guy walking by, that's all, over the course of a few minutes, pretty dead for The Big City. Yeah, "Bright Lights, Big City", we can go out to the bars, wait, what bars? Me, well, I went into a fast food joint. Service was better than it looked like it WOULD be, but that's because I was one of only 2 customers. The place smelled bad and was almost entirely Black! What else does downtown Hartford have for "amenities"?

There is still this fancy clothing store? Isn't that a thing in the big city, shopping, for the nice shapely city women who you may meet at the office and those bars, right?

Just look at the name! No way you're getting a shirt for less than 50 bucks.

I looked inside, and there was nobody but a salesman or two in the place. I admit, Sears (as I forgot to mention in that old blue jeans story), formerly, and now Target are where I buy clothes in person. Still, there are people who like these sort of places. I'm thinking Elaine in Seinfeld, but actual real people too.

What is the point of being in these cities now? What does the future hold for them? That discussion will be in the next post (or in comments here - that would be fine).

* Prior to that, there were dual capitals of Connecticut, Hartford and New Haven.

Thursday - July 27th 2023 7:52PM MST
PS: Thanks for the personal input, Mr. Corrupt.
Al Corrupt
Wednesday - July 26th 2023 6:12PM MST

Mr. Hail, having been a resident of several CT towns (and having friends reside in several others) you are somewhat correct. While some small towns aren’t bad (Groton, Jewett City) others (Norwich, New Britan) are as bad as any big city.
Sunday - July 23rd 2023 6:20AM MST
PS #2 son has been back in Canton; has been since February, teaching English and trying to get his lacrosse training business off the ground. Dunno what will happen when the Chicoms invade Formosa, though.
Saturday - July 22nd 2023 9:55PM MST
PS: Thanks for using this blog for some great discussion, commenters. This was a really busy day, so I didn't have time to write until now.

Mr. Ganderson, yes, that would have been great, maybe hard to arrange but great. If you don't mind my asking, did your son get back to China, is is he there with you all for the summer?
Saturday - July 22nd 2023 9:59AM MST

-- Is the USA full of nothing but soulless industrial/technical architecture of little aesthetic value? --

I join Mr. Ganderson in disagreeing with Dieter Kief's point that either Hartford specifically (or maybe it is Connecticut generally, or maybe most-likely it is a point about the USA generally) has nothing but bland office-tower-style buildings.

The Connecticut I know is not classifiable in this way. The cities and other such places have lots of old architecture that still survives in its original dignity. The same for rural landscapes, which, as Mr. Blanc recalls, is often quite pleasant and also keeps the dignity of the best if the past, the more-than four centuries of Western Man's interactions with the land in these places, building on the European heritage.

The line "Hartford architecture is - - - all industrial / technical - with little aesthetical value" I think is a sign that Mr. Kief has never been to the place. "All"! I don't think so. Mid-20th century overstepping, yes; but I don't think you will find even one city in such places where a "clean sweep" has been done, in which all the old places / layouts / styles / aesthetics / architecture was replaced by soulless bland mega-buildings.

Some places got more of these new-architecture additions in the mid-20th century than others (along with the much-regretted habit of dumping highway lines right through city-centers). But more usually, a city of this kind will have large numbers of survivals from the 19th century, and along the East Coast sometimes survivals from even earlier, or semi-recreations of the earlier periods. Cities that are entirely the products of the mid-20th century and later will obviously not have any of that (e.g., Las Vegas; or that planned brand-new green mega city to house 100,000 people that The Dernald says he will build, if reelected).

Part of the feeling of tragedy (if that is the right word) of these places is that to visit is to "don the archaeologist's cap," as a strange successor-civilization exists in the ruins of the old. The ruins of the "old" are still standing and easily identifiable. Churches, public buildings of many kinds, and other non-architectural features of the landscape and city-scape that connect back many generations, these all exist intact.

One site of interest near Hartford is the Mark Twain House. I'm not sure the age, but it is big, the grounds are large, and it is all maintained as it was when he lived there and people visit it regularly, a slow but steady stream of visitors. But that is just a tourist effort. In fact, such preserved buildings are everywhere.

The Peak Stupidity fact-finding mission into downtown Hartford went where such things are harder to find, but even in a certain radius of the place in question are many survivals of old things of more dignity; the biggest distinction is that there are relatively few survivals of "people."

When the rise of the automobile and Nonwhite-migrant populations (often introduced in vey-earliest form as strike-breakers to beat White labor-unions) started tipping White cities into minority-White zones, a realignment of visions occurred and U.S. cities began to be envisioned as places to drive to work in and then leave, as a White family would drive some miles away in a "suburb." This was "human-capital flight" and undermined some of the ability to defeat some of the mega-building projects. But even so, all these cities of certain ages in the USA still tend to have plenty of old buildings that are maintained, not so different from what many European cities offer.
The Alarmist
Saturday - July 22nd 2023 7:51AM MST

In London the week before last, I looked at the so-called Gherkin, now surrounded and swarfed by several larger architectural follies, and I thought, “I wonder how it feels to spend a couple hundred million quid to have the most unique building in the Square Mile, just to have it essentially blotted out of the skyline in less than two decades.”

For all its areas of interesting old architecture, London has plenty of modern twaddle. Paris is better at this thing, and is mostly blighted only by its recent import replacement population on the streets.
Saturday - July 22nd 2023 7:01AM MST
PS. Dieter- good points, I’ll concede. I’ll bet, though, that there are thousand-ish year old cities in Europe that are not so hot. If you drive around cities like Hartford, while one doesn’t see the grand old buildings one sees in , oh, say, London or Paris, but there are lots of old houses, apartment buildings and some public edifices (many in rather bad repair) that were quite lovely in their day. Renewing such places might be a place to start with urban renewal.

Remember, too, that London and Paris were not always “London and Paris” either.

And don’t get me started on the damage done to our cities by Soviet style architects and their western fellow travelers
Dieter Kief
Saturday - July 22nd 2023 12:37AM MST
Interesting post & shots - thx. Mod.

Ahh - from what I see - - - is this not London. And not Paris either, Mr. Ganderson. London and Paris: That means beauty, history. That is also true for lots and lots of a bit lesser known European cities.

Simple test would be: Google Hartford stock photos. - You don't want to look too much on what shows up then.

Robert M. Pirsig sailed down the Hudson and wrote a book about aesthetics and morals about this journey in ca. the same region with a disturbed young woman. Here you have it all in a nutshell: Laila. The book will be read in a hundred years from now. What will happen to Hartford? - Don't know? It looks as if the amount of aesthetic energy that goes into the development of a city would matter - a lot.

Mr. Hail - your Connecticut City-Blues post is also a lot about lack of aesthetic value. What's great about Robert M. Persig's two great books of high intellectual power (the other one is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) is that he makes the connection from everyday life to aesthetical questions.Both books are 500 p. + - - -the first one was rejected by 121 US publishing houses. - The intellectual elite did not want to look at this junction of craftspeople and - morals, aesthetics, faith - - - . They thought that this would be of no - - -hehe: Value. - But - - it turned out that it was: Pirsigs books sold by the millions - worldwide.

This connection between the craftspeople, the church and the elites is not least what made medieval cities so appealing: Because they simply had to connect these three dots in order to develop. -

- Btw. - - -this is the main point I'd hold that in the eyes of once frequent Unz-commenter Old Palo Altan made the crucial difference between Europe and the US. The US eradicated the traces of the craftspeople (and of faith) in everyday life. Old Europe - consists of them. - This is what Arno Borst called life-forms - ways to FORM life in a human way. Hartford architecture is - - -all industrial / technical - with little aesthetical value. The city looks like a not oto well thought out and serviced machine - uninspiring, cold and rejecting. Compare that with the supposedly least charming Swiss city of Winterthur - - - (also about 120 000 inhabitants).

The Alarmist
Friday - July 21st 2023 3:14PM MST

Try wandering down the road to that progessive icon, home of Yale, AKA Drug Haven.
Friday - July 21st 2023 12:22PM MST

As for what the future holds- short term it looks bad, but on an optimistic note look at cities like London or Paris (not that they too are not currently struggling)- lots of ups and down over the thousand+ years they've been around. Maybe this is just a down period. I know, I'm hopelessly naive...
Friday - July 21st 2023 12:14PM MST
PS Too bad you didn't drop me a note Mr. Mod; I would have come down and bought you a beer. Hartford is just a bit more than an hour away for me; its airport is usually the one I fly out of if I'm not driving. I almost never go to Hartford, though, except to catch a UMASS-UCONN hockey game; it's a dump. Mr. Hail's comments about other CT cities (and CT in general) are spot on. I'd quibble with his depiction of Bridgeport as the worst- my money's on New Haven, but hey, "de gustibus non est disputandum.". From Danbury to Waterbury, Meriden to Stamford; they all blow dead goats.

I grew up in a mid sized big city (MSP); in the the city proper. In the 50's and 60's both Minneapolis and St. Paul were great places to grow up: clean, safe, decent schools, etc. I've watched (since 1984 from afar, with usually a couple visits per year) the slow decline of the Twin Towns; particularly the flight of businesses from the core, of course that decline has been in overdrive since the Summer of George. And no one, not politicians, business leaders not anyone is willing to even identify the problem, much less try to fix things. Of course, while these trends were well in motion by the 90's- importing a hundred thousand East Africans didn't help.

Nah I take it back- I'm sure all those Somalis are playing hockey and eating hot dish just like their cousins who went to Sweden...

BTW Mr. Hail- Little Johnny Mayer is a son of the Nutmeg State too!
Friday - July 21st 2023 11:26AM MST
PS Hail: I, too, have had some connection with Connecticut. I spent the summer of 1971 living on a pond that straddled the CT/RI border. The nearest village in CT was Voluntown, a charming enough place, except for the stench of the chicken farm on the outskirts. (Do try to do only free-range poultry and eggs, chaps.) I remember going into Norwich once or twice. Also with considerable New England charm. Then there was the 1972–73 school year in Stamford. It was boring as all get out. When Mme B and I were taking a New England tour in around 2016, we spent a night there. It had grown considerably. I did spend a fair amount of time in the countryside, which was quite lovely.
Friday - July 21st 2023 10:50AM MST
PS: I stayed in New Haven one night about 20 years ago with 2 friends, one of who was attending Yale at the time. It wasn't very nice even back then.
Friday - July 21st 2023 10:36AM MST

supplemental note-- I have some connections to the Connecticut which I was describing, though I am there only occasionally. It is a tragedy to see these places.

New Haven is another case, being one of those interesting cases of an old university-campus surrounded by a once-good city that became a just-terrible place, a "ghetto" in the Black sense. New Haven and Hartford both have sky-high homicide rates, which is why one tends not to see people hanging around much.
Friday - July 21st 2023 10:21AM MST
PS: "If one were to do a long-slow tour of Connecticut cities and confined his experience of "what the USA is" to the impressions and experiences along that tour, and had to stay in such a USA forevermore, he would be liable to become depressed and maybe turn to drugs, or radical right-wing politics to get the Migrants etc out." Haha!

Yeah, all the particulars about Connecticut aside, I've seen the same thing in other medium-sized cities in the South, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-West, etc. I don't particularly mean the lefty/Jewish leadership and control or even the crime. I didn't even see enough people there to make crime pay, but perhaps that's seeing cause and effect backwards. ;-}

This was just one place in which I decided to take pictures for a post. I will see if I can remember the points I made here when I end up somewhere else with time to mosey about.
Friday - July 21st 2023 8:52AM MST

-- Connecticut's cities; symbol of American decline --

Connecticut is a state with an interesting and quite-great heritage in many ways. Outsiders often have a view of the entire state that is wildly-outsizedly influenced by the little corner down nearest New York City. No actual Connecticut person would "claim" that corner. It is defacto a part of New York City.

The kinds of people like John Derbyshire (long of Manhattan, later of suburban mid-Long Island) and David Pinsen, and maybe even the Peak-Stupidity-reader PeterIke, the people whose attentions by necessity and circumstance focus on "New York City," will inevitably view Connecticut this way; "Connecticut" will tend to mean "Greenwich" and "New Caanan" and a handful of like places, very wealthy indeed.

Some of those Connecticut-resident persons indeed are to be found in Manhattan during work-days. A lot of the high-elite of the New York City-based media live in these places, but they likely have no real ties to any of the rest of the state.

IN FACT, although there is a fair degree of aggregate wealth in Connecticut, EVERY CITY in the state is some degree of "terrible." Everything bad about what a "city" is, in our recent imagination in the U.S. context, these cities have, often to exaggerated degrees, to surprising degrees given not many of them are super-big cities. Crime, blight, nothing going on, despair, lack of vigor, drugs, Migrants and Blacks, and leftover Whites with some degree of siege-mentality.

There is also a significant layer of Jews, established especially in certain cities such as Stamford, and certainly Hartford, since around the mid-Ellis Island period. The Jews of Connecticut were often spill-overs from New York City, and in time produced the usual types of Jews in politics in a Western society: in a previous era, there was Abe Ribicoff, a left-wing political fixture of the 1960s and d1970s; we still have Senator Blumenthal, one of the most aggressively left-wing in the Senate; and there was Joe Lieberman, similar in important ways.

A distinct layer of crooked, mafia-like dealings also existed, which accelerated the negative trends in the mid-20th century. The Italian-origin Manafort political family represents this layer: Paul Manafort, who attached as a barnacle to the Trump-MAGA thing in the 2010s and later went to prison, was one of these for years, as was his father.

Why did the White-Christian majority of Connecticut fail to unite? It's partly because of Jewish leadership of the Left had reached a threshold level at which their power is really difficult to assail (why didn't White-Christians of NYC 'unite'?); and certainly it's partly because of White-Christian internal divisions along nationality / ethnoreligious lines, which still today in the 2020s exist and shape identities in Connecticut, even after so many generations. To a degree surprising to an outsider. This phenomenon exists in much of the USA.

-- --

Back to "the real Connecticut," outside the corner claimed by New York City's long tentacles; it is defined by mid-sized ex-industrial cities. Most if not all these places were once attractive or even excellent places to be, full of energy and positivity in many ways, anchors of meaningful lives. Hartford was nothing special in that way. Hartford just a "first among equals" among such cities. Its big "industry" became insurance after a time. But it has long been about as high-crime as any city you'll find anywhere.

I think the particularly terrible city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, gained an award some years in a row for "worst city in New England." Bridgeport, too, was once a bustling port-city full of well-functioning people and a producer of wealth. Today, none of the cities in Connecticut ranks as "good." It's just degrees of "bad."

If one were to do a long-slow tour of Connecticut cities and confined his experience of "what the USA is" to the impressions and experiences along that tour, and had to stay in such a USA forevermore, he would be liable to become depressed and maybe turn to drugs, or radical right-wing politics to get the Migrants etc out.

I will add here, as evidence for my point(s), that Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, who are both fairly radical right-wing nationalist types, are both products of Connecticut.
Friday - July 21st 2023 8:40AM MST
PS: Right, Mr. Blanc, if it's not for the entertainment and not for the convenience of being near to a downtown job, then what is the point, as you ask? (Of course, I don't consider shopping entertaining at all! YMMV, depending on your various and sundry gender choices)

Regarding professional baseball, football, hockey, etc, and then the ballet and theater, I gotta say that most of the people who tout all that stuff for the cities in which they reside, usually only go when people - like me - come in from out of town. "Hey, why don't you live out of town for 1/2 the price too, and we can ALL come to Chicago to see a Cubs game?"

As for the work-from-home deal from a management perspective, I guess that whole mind-set of hours "worked" vs. work done could, or would have to, change.

Thanks for the commentary from ChicagoLand!
Friday - July 21st 2023 7:49AM MST
PS What’s the point of these cities now? Good question, and one that will have to wait a while for an answer. Economic activity has been moving out of central cities for decades. It’s largely stayed in metropolitan areas, but many downtowns (Chicago being the one that I know best) have become as much residential and institutional (universities, etc.) as commercial. No one goes to the Loop to shop any more. We shall see whether the entertainment venues will recover from the Plague Panic. If not, what’s the point of living downtown for the entertainment? The jury is also out on the work-from-home phenomenon. A big part, perhaps the biggest part, of management has always been surveillance. I guess that you can monitor your staff remotely via their computers, but that’s surely more costly than just casting you eye around the office. If bosses decide that it’s back to the office, it will be a boost to cities. If not…. And then there are the joggers and their shenanigans.
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