West Hartford, CT
With a below average cost of living, West Hartford, Connecticut, was ranked as one of the top 100 best places to live in the United States by Money magazine in 2008. A residential suburb of the state capital city of Hartford, West Hartford is home to around 65,000 inhabitants. The town encompasses approximately 22 square miles and adjoins the communities of Bloomfield, Newington, Farmington and Avon.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Originally a parish, West Hartford was incorporated as a town in 1854. Today, it is home to a handful of small, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. These include the comfortably affluent Bishops Corner and West Hartford Center, which is also a shopping destination, as well as the more modest Buena Vista and Elmwood neighborhoods.
The shopping, dining and business districts of West Hartford include Westfarms, Corbin's Corner, New Park Avenue, Park Road, Elmwood Center and Bishops Corner.
Neighborhoods and districts of West Hartford accommodate around 25,300 houses, out of which more than 24,500 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than 17,600 are owner-occupied, while renters occupy around 7,000 houses.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The retail and services sectors dominate the economy of the city of West Hartford. Educational services and health care are also major industries, and other important sectors are finance, insurance, real estate, professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services.
The southeastern section of the city comprises most of the manufacturing and industrial areas of West Hartford. The major employers include Abbott Ball, Chandler Evans, Colt Firearms, Danaher Tool Group, United Tool & Die (UTD) and Wiremold.
Residents of West Hartford have seven different shopping centers and areas from which to choose, a number of which is popular enough to draw visitors from the surrounding greater metropolitan area of Hartford. Popular shopping areas include:
- West Hartford Center: A traditional, New England town center, the West Hartford Center is known for its pedestrian-friendly streets, upscale boutiques and popular restaurants. The Center is home to more than 140 specialty businesses, as well as historic homes and public buildings, and it hosts many of the town's annual events.
- Blue Back Square: The town's newest mixed-use development, the Blue Back Square, or Blueback, opened in early 2008 and encompasses 20 acres in the affluent West Hartford Center neighborhood. Blueback offers an art cinema, upscale shops and popular restaurants, alongside luxury office spaces and condominiums.
- Park Road District: With diverse shopping and cultural attractions, the Park Road District is one of the most interesting places in West Hartford. It's home to ethnic markets, boutiques, restaurants and a community theater, all tied together by brick sidewalks. The district hosts the town's annual parade every fall.
- Westfarms: An upscale mall anchored by Nordstrom, Macy's, Lord and Taylor and JC Penney department stores, Westfarms is home to 160 specialty stores and restaurants, including the state's only Nordstrom and Rain Forest Café. Across the street from Westfarms, Corbin's Corner is an outdoor shopping area that is popular with local residents.
- The Children's Museum: Founded in 1927 and the largest of its kind in the state, The Children's Museum is consistently ranked as one of the best family attractions in the greater Hartford area. The museum hosts a number of exhibits, including an exotic wildlife sanctuary, interactive learning zone and an authentic nature center, as well as the state's largest space theater, the Gengras Planetarium.
- Noah Webster House: A national tourist attraction, the Noah Webster House is the restored birthplace and childhood home of Noah Webster, the well-known, 18th-century American lexicographer and educator. The house was built in the mid-1700s, continuously occupied for the next 200 years, and then opened to the public as a museum in the late 1960s. The museum includes the original home, a library and archives, and a modern exhibition gallery.
- Park Road Playhouse: Founded in 2001, the Park Road Playhouse has been repeatedly recognized as the Best Community Theater in the greater Hartford metropolitan area. The Playhouse produces multiple plays and musicals every year, including classics such as Death of a Salesman and Arsenic and Old Lace, and hosts acting and improv classes for all ages.
- Westmoor Park: Encompassing 162 acres, Westmoor Park has three miles of hiking and nature trails throughout both wooded and open land, including a half-mile, handicapped-accessible trail. Visitors can enjoy picnic and recreation facilities, as well as a heated greenhouse, horticultural center, demonstration farm, seasonal flower gardens and a large outdoor marsh. This family-friendly attraction opened to the public in 1974.
- Every June, West Hartford hosts Celebrate! West Hartford, a two-day town fair that attracts more than 30,000 people. The festival features a wide variety of family-friendly activities, including arts-and-crafts shows, entertainment performances, rides and games, a certified 5K road race and ethnic and local cuisine.
Ranked as the 10th most-educated town in the United States by Money Magazine in 2006, West Hartford is home to three institutions of higher learning that grant undergraduate and graduate degrees:
- The University of Hartford, a private, independent university, has a full-time enrollment of more than 5,500 and offers both master's and doctoral degree programs. The University publishes the weekly University of Hartford Informer and operates the public radio station WWUH (91.3 FM).
- Saint Joseph College, founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1932, is a Roman Catholic, comprehensive institution that offers bachelor's and master's degree programs. The College has an average full-time enrollment of 1,100.
- The University of Connecticut, Greater Hartford Campus, is one of the six campuses of the University of Connecticut, which together enroll close to 30,000 students. The Hartford campus is primarily home to the university's School of Business.
Other nearby colleges and universities include Trinity College, Central Connecticut State University, Wesleyan University and Quinnipiac University, as well as local community colleges.
Residents of West Hartford receive two local newspapers: West Hartford News, published weekly, and West Hartford Life, published monthly. In addition to the mixed-programming radio station WWUH (91.3 FM), broadcast by the University of Hartford, the town is home to classical music radio station WTMI (1290 AM). West Hartford also has one local access cable television station, WHC-TV.