With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Hindenburg Over Hartford

Sad City reader Bruce B. clued us into this amazing video of the ill-fated Hindenburg blimp zeppelin flying over Hartford in 1936.  The Hindenburg would famously  be destroyed in a May 6, 1937 fire and crash that killed 35 passengers and one person on the ground and ended the era of blimps as passenger transportation.  Photographs of the Hindenburg crashing are some of the most recognizable photos ever taken.

Easily recognizable Hartford landmarks the Traveler's tower and the State Capitol can be seen in this clip.

The YouTube page with this upload adds the following:

"Film of the Hindenburg flying low over Hartford, Connecticut, in October 1936. Seems to be filmed from the roof of one of the Travelers Insurance co's buildings. Visible is Travelers tower building and the now-gone WTIC radio tower. At the very end of the clip is footage of several people on the roof of the building that is on the corner of Central Row and Main Street in Hartford (imagine today workers going onto the roof of a building like that!). I bought this original reel of Kodak film via an online auction a few years ago and didn't know what it was until I brought it to a video conversion place to have it copied to a DVD. The auction had it labeled as "Zeppelin over Hartford, CT 1936" but I had no idea it was the Hindenburg until I saw the actual film. Pretty good quality for the age. You can clearly read "Hindenburg", the ship's numbering, and see the Olympic rings. Spooky. So I'm pretty sure no one has ever widely seen this footage before."

Truly amazing footage. Sad City's thoughts:

1) Yes that is a Nazi swastika on the tail of the airship.  The Hindenburg was a German vessel and Germany, under Hitler, had adopted the swastika as the German national flag in September of 1935. The first flight of the Hindenburg was March 1936.  This video would have to be sometime in the 14 month window between then and the blimps crash on May 1937. 

2) The idea that people would voluntarily cruise around in a MASSIVE (803 foot) balloon filled with explosive gas is completely unfathomable to us. Now we are admittedly landlubbers, but that just seems crazy. 

3) Slightly ironic that we found this video of a blimp zeppelin flying past the Traveler's tower now, right before the Traveler's Championship will bring another a blimp back to the Hartford area.

4) This video was shot 75 years ago.  Almost assuredly all the people seen in the footage are dead.  Morbid yes, but we just think about stuff like that.  It reminds us of that really old Motley Crue video where the girls all dance in weird bondage type outfits.  We can't help but think "Those women are about 50 now. I wonder what they think of this video?"

The Hindenburg crash.

That Motley Crue video. It sure seems like everyone involved in this video must have been partying pretty hard. Don't laugh. That's probably somebody's grandmother in that outfit.


  1. Very cool! And thanks for providing Motley Crue...I clearly would have needed to google it otherwise.

  2. To be technical, the Hindenburg was not a blimp, but a Zeppelin. (No relation to Jimmy Page & company) Zeppelins have rigid airframes, while blimps do not.

    There are some companies who are working toward reviving the Zeppelin, albeit with some changes. Hydrogen gas = uber bad idea. Helium = not a problem.

    It turns out that these airships are actually very, very efficient in terms of fuel and other resources, so they could be excellent vehicles to move freight in.

  3. Are you guys prophets?