Friday Five: Bushnell Park North

Did you know that we’ve been working on Bushnell Park North for the last five years? Here are five improvements that we’ve made during this process, and how they tie into our mission.

1. Improved Walkability (Walking)
The dramatically altered sidewalk along the northern rim of the park is a defining feature of iQuilt’s mission and work. For many years, the sidewalk was not wide enough for two people to pass each other; now, its width is no less than 18 feet, allowing for amenities such as benches and planters. The noticeably increased foot traffic in the area is evidence of the welcoming feel of the area; take a walk on a nice afternoon and its attractiveness will not go unnoticed.

2. Bushnell Park (Culture)
Not only is the park a main connection on the GreenWalk, but it is also the crown jewel of downtown Hartford. Midday pickup frisbee games, weekend music festivals, and the Carousel promote its purpose as the cultural commons for workers, residents and visitors alike. Take a stroll, play some chess, or skate with us at Winterfest – there’s no doubt of the value the park adds.

3. Bushnell Gardens  (Innovation)
Downtown Hartford is full of placemaking opportunities. As part of the work done at Bushnell Park North and the realignment of Gold Street, a new place with great potential for placemaking has been created: Bushnell Gardens. It is the first expansion of Bushnell Park in 150 years, but for the time being it is a patch of grass. In the coming months, we will be putting together a plan to make this a dynamic, engaging connection between the existing Bushnell Park and Main Street, leading to Fishman Plaza at Travelers and the Wadsworth Atheneum more so.

4. TIGER (Innovation)
Bushnell Park North not only increased pedestrian access but also brought transit access to Bushnell Park. iQuilt’s work was funded by a federal TIGER grant for the Intermodal Triangle Project. The triangle is bounded by Bushnell Park North, Gold Street, Main Street and Asylum Street; this is the route of CTfastrak buses downtown. After the realignment of Gold Street, these buses now have a stop directly at Bushnell Park.

5. Promenade Road Diet (Walking)
Jewell Street was, for many years, a four-lane boulevard; in other words, while pedestrian space was lacking there was an overabundance of asphalt. With the creation of the north side promenade, Jewell Street became a simple two-lane road with parking and the bus stop. The decreased road space encourages motorists to drive slower, making road crossings safer for pedestrians.  With the edge of the park being a high priority walking area, the look and feel of the whole space – sidewalk and road – is key to creating an environment that people feel comfortable walking in.

As our work in Bushnell Park North comes to an end, the iQuilt Partnership is thrilled to see increased pedestrian usage and enhanced access to Bushnell Park, but also excited for what’s coming at Bushnell Gardens. There are so many to thank…The City of Hartford, Greater Hartford Transit District, Bushnell Park Foundation, Suisman Urban Design, BETA, contractors, and everyone who provided input and feedback many years ago about their vision and dreams to create a walkable city. The work is not done, but a patch of the quilt is almost complete.