Friday Five: Phil’s Faves

We’re very fortunate to have three college-age interns and associates helping us at the iQuilt Innovation Center. Phil Shattuck is one of them; he’s been working with us since the opening of the iQuilt Innovation Center. He recently graduated from the University of Connecticut, spending most of his time at the West Hartford/Hartford campus. Has always been a sucker for the city – even abandoning a life in Malibu, California to come back here – and lived in the city now for nearly two years. What are Phil’s favorite things about our Capital City? Here are five.

1. Family/Community Atmosphere
It’s no secret that Hartford is a small city, but it certainly has its perks. When you come into the city from the suburbs, you can feel the small-city close-knit atmosphere. The streets are places to bump into people you know, and often to see things of interest  – performances, activism, and of course, food trucks. While I lived in the South End, I was on my way to meet friends at Elizabeth Park, and I passed a graduation party that was mobbed with friends and family, with a mariachi band playing.  Just minutes later while in Elizabeth Park, we could hear music coming from the West End.  It’s awesome to see a city thriving and full of such vibrant communities.

2. The Parks
City residents here have no shortage of green, oasis-like spaces. From its biggest park (Keney) to the pocket parks (like the one on Bond Street), they are amazing components of Hartford. Seeing Colt Park packed with people on Sunday afternoons to watch soccer, or seeing the roses in bloom at Elizabeth Park top off any week. A few years ago, the city refurbished the playgrounds and splash pads at the Sigourney Square and Lozada Parks. Our park system in the city is one of its greatest assets.

3. The Bus System
People often point out that we lack great public transportation like a subway, but CTfastrak is wonderful! For someone who moved here to avoid a daily commute from Middletown, CT Transit provides a comprehensive system for public transit, particularly on the weekdays. Anywhere in the city, you’re never more than a 15-minute walk to a stop on any major road to routes that go anywhere between Westfarms, Manchester, Bradley and even Middletown. Buses are frequent and the fares are cheap. For a small city, this is just right!

4. So much to do! 
I know I haven’t come close to exploring everything Hartford has to offer, but like the iQuilt Plan says, “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” they are right. The work being done to make the space between destinations more walkable is important because you can walk around downtown in a 45-minute loop, so you can do multiple things from one parking location. And parking is free on city streets on evenings and weekends. Outside of downtown, there’s great things like the CT Historical Society on Elizabeth Street, walkable neighborhoods brimming with history, bakeries around Maple and Franklin Avenues, and countless places to spend time with friends. Big events, like the return of the Riverfront’s fireworks, are just the touchstone of all Hartford has to offer.

5. Positivity about the future
Nothing makes an experience better than a positive attitude. In the five or so years that I’ve been spending lots of time here, the energy in the city just keeps growing. While the city and state have some serious fiscal challenges, Hartford continues to build a foundation to become a powerhouse. Seeing people walk their dogs, pushing baby strollers down to the park, and doing yoga by the river is amazing. So many positive things that I didn’t see 18 months ago are starting to appear around the city. The city is changing, and I am thrilled my alma matter will be joining the Hartford community in downtown in two more months.

The iQuilt Innovation Center, at 24 Central Row,  is open Monday through Thursday, 9:30-2:30 pm. Stop by and talk to us and check out LEGO Hartford! You can visit Phil on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.