Carolina: Cruising Past 70: TRAVEL AWAITS: Small Is Beautiful Connecticut Road Trip

Friday, January 14, 2022

TRAVEL AWAITS: Small Is Beautiful Connecticut Road Trip

                   


                      The complete article was published in Travel Awaits in August 2020

This post documents our road trip from New York to Massachusetts through Connecticut, the third smallest state in the US but also the 29th most populous state, making it the fourth-most densely populated. In just two nights of camping, we discovered seven landmarks in its three largest cities: Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford. Two industries, financial services and maritime, combine to give the state the highest per capita income, human development index, and median household income in the entire U.S. Quite an achievement for such a small piece of land. "Small is beautiful."

Bridgeport

 

Only an hour and 45 minutes from New York City, Bridgeport has a population of almost 150,000, the largest city in Connecticut. Also a coastal city like New Haven, Bridgeport is at the center of the state’s significant maritime industry. But it was the Barnum Museum, t
he main authority on P.T. Barnum (1810-1891), the showman, businessman, and founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. It has become a national treasure that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

New Haven

New Haven is only about 30 minutes from Bridgeport and 40 minutes from Hartford, the state capital to the northeast. It’s the second-largest city at almost 130,000 in population.

 


The Knights of Columbus Museum was another unique museum on our itinerary. In 1882, when Fr. Michael McGiveny (who is currently up for sainthood at the Vatican) saw the need for an organization that could partner with parishes to help poor immigrant families, he founded the Knights of Columbus. It is now the largest fraternal service organization in the Catholic Church with about two million members. 


New Haven is also home to the beautiful campus of Yale University, an Ivy League school. The Yale University Art Gallery is, in fact, the oldest university art museum in the Western Hemisphere. Housed in several buildings on the campus, it emphasizes Italian paintings, African sculptures, and modern art.

Hartford

The capital of Connecticut and home to over 120,000 residents, Hartford is known as the Insurance Capital of the World. It is where the financial services industry grew to be as important as the state’s maritime industry. 


Its most distinctive landmark is the 34-story Travelers Tower constructed in 1919 as the seventh-tallest building in the world. The headquarters of Travelers Insurance, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, its 27th-floor observation deck is where you can get the best aerial view of the city.

Hartford is also a center of excellence in literary works not just in the state but of the country. Both the lovely Mark Twain House and Museum and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and House sit almost side by side. The landmark novel of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which graphically details the harshest of conditions endured by slaves in America, laying the groundwork for the Civil War. Mark Twain’s  (1835-1910) work, on the other hand, was published 20 years after the Civil War. They may have been almost a generation apart, but they were both addressing the same issue that we are still dealing with today.


Lastly, we visited the third unique museum in Hatford. The CRRA — Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority — established the  Trash Museum that demonstrated not only what trash accumulation does to the environment but also advocated single-stream recycling — leading the way in this industry. Unfortunately, it closed permanently in June of 2016.

Connecticut was the fifth of the original 13 states and even led all the others in the formulation of a constitution. Adopted in 1639, its Fundamental Orders heavily influenced the framing of the US Constitution and the development of the federal government. If you are in New York, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts, consider passing through Connecticut to see for yourself how such a small state is so beautifully successful.

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32 comments:

  1. Connecticut is small but beautiful and prosperous!

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  2. I grew up in Massachusetts so it was wonderful to read about your road trip in Connecticutt, which is often overlooked! I loved reading about the history of the area. And I had no idea that the Mark Twain House and Museum were so local to my home town! It's something I'll have to visit next time I go home.

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  3. I haven't been to many places in Connecticut. Sounds like you found some nice places to explore.

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    1. Yes, and ended up admiring the small but beautiful state!

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  4. I must say that we have never visited Connecticut so it was interesting to read your post and discover what we have missed. My hubby would surely be interesting in discovering more about the maritime industry. But we would find it an interesting spot for U.S. history.

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  5. The Mark Twain museum is on my bucket list, but now I will have to add that house of trash. I never heard of that before.

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  6. We made a day visit to Connecticut last summer. But I think we will need another trip to see Barnum Museum and Temple of Trash.

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    1. Although the Temple if Trash had already been decommissioned in 2016!

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  7. I haven't been to Connecticut yet, and I'm not too familiar with what it offers. It seems to be pretty exciting. The Knights of Columbus Museum is interesting, and the 34-story Travelers Tower in downtown of Hartford looks great. Fantastic road trip!

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  8. I had no idea that Hartford was called the insurance capital of the world. I really don't know how to feel about that haha. I'm sure your husband was thinking "ah what if" when you all stopped at Yale. Also a garbage museum sounds really interesting. I'd definitely go!

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  9. I spent some time in Connecticut several years ago when I attended a wedding but just scratched the surface of what the state has to offer. Great ideas here for interesting highlights not to miss. I would especially like to visit the homes of the literary greats.

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  10. “part steamboat, part medieval fortress, and part cuckoo clock.” the Mark Twain house and museum sounds so interesting. We will have to make a trip that way next time we are on the east coast!

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  11. Your post takes me back to a trip I did in this region with family as a kid, and really brings home how much history and appeal the smaller cities of Connecticut have for a visitor.

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  12. Another great tale from the road. . .you find the most interesting places.

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  13. An interesting read and sad to learn Mark Twain lost his fortune.

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  14. I haven't had the opportunity to exlore Conneticut yet, but it looks like there is lots to see and do. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. You certainly convinced me there was much to see in Connecticut. And lots of interesting history to learn about. Since we have never visited, we need to add Connecticut to a future road trip agenda.

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  16. Connecticut looks like a great place to visit. I hope we can make it up there this fall.

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  17. I've been to a few places around Connecticut but not enough. I need to make more trips out there. Will check out these recommendations you mentioned here!

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