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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Tricolor House

We've long loved this tricolored house located at the corner of New Britain Ave across the street from Coyote Flaco. As know lovers of fluorescent colors, this house has is one of our favorites in Hartford. What would possess someone to paint their house three different bright colors? The Irish flag comes to mind but that's not exactly right. Our guess was always something more benign, most likely the owner had these three colors of paint and didn't want to buy more. We also were once told that the owners children were huge fans of a television show (Teletubbies?) that used these colors and painted the house this way to amuse the kids. Whichever it is, it's pretty awesome and we hope it stays this way.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hartford Art By A Hartford Artist

Footguard on parade

Sad City is always happy to support local artists. It's even more of a pleasure when that artist's work is a inspired by and incorporates Hartford. Recently we were introduced to Beth Pite, a local artist specializing in pastels often inspired by what she sees in our city. This Thursday, September 1, the Charter Oak Cultural Center (21 Charter Oak Drive) is hosting an opening, City Place, Beach Place, featuring her works and the works of Alan Bisbort. The opening runs from 5:30-8:30 Thursday evening. For those unable to attend the exhibit will run until September 23.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Russian Lady - Returning to Hartford

Last week Sad City got the titillating opportunity to walk around the interior of the new-old downtown bar, The Russian Lady. The original Russian Lady was a favorite for years in the downtown scene, and stood out thanks in part to its giant “Mother Russia” statue of Catharine the Great that used to adorn the front of the building. Its visitors, in its heyday, included such notables as Paul Simon and Bob Hope. Although the statue was auctioned off years ago and repossessing it for the new location proved impossible, The Russian Lady is about to see a new heyday, or so her owner believes. The new space, with many antiques from the old bar and elsewhere, leads us to agree.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Floods Park River

For the second time in the last few months Hartford's forgotten river has flooded. This was little surprise after the heavy rainfall from Hurricane Irene, but it's safe to say there will be no urban kayaking today.
More pics and video after the jump.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another Bizarre Marketing Slogan

We drive around Hartford a lot and it's almost never boring. If we don't find a new place to explore, we at the very least see interesting stuff. We've always been amused by delivery trucks with interesting, catchy slogans. One of our favorites is Robinson Pest Control. Yesterday we came across a NY based fish delivery company with this awesome slogan.

Brilliant. The catchy, three word marketing rhyme. Great stuff. In a long history of eating fish, we have to admit, never once have we though of "meat without feet."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sad City Announcement & Favor

For over one year and 400 posts we have tried our best to bring to the internet quality, entertaining, and informative Hartford stuff. So far people seem to enjoy it to some degree. Today we are pleased to announce that Sad City Hartford has joined the Independent Media Network as the only Hartford exclusive blog in the network. We team up with the awesome and super popular CT News Junkie, which was the only site to beat us in the Advocate's Best of Hartford 2011 Hyper Local News Site. (You know what they say...)

 This won't change Sad City in any material way except that as a result we would like to ask you, our readers, for a rather short and hopefully painless favor. Hopefully you won't find filling the survey below out as a favor for our efforts to bring you good content. Thank you all very much and we look forward to continuing to bring you quality Hartford content. Survey and disclaimer after the jump.


The selling of lactose powder and other agents used to cut cocaine in the narcotics trade at local gas stations is something that Sad City has posted about multiple times over the last year. Pipes, rolling papers and blunts are one thing. But openly aiding narcotics dealing is a little over the line in our opinion.

From our stories Councilman Cotto and his aide de camp Brendan Mahoney tried to introduce an ordinance that would ban the sale of these dilutants in local gas stations. Sadly the well-intended bill is stalled because of disagreement over how it will be enforced and other political skirmishing that prevents progress.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Hartford Food Guy Visits O'Porto

Saturday my wife and I spent most of the day at the shore at a birthday party for a friend (and regular reader). Although there was a quite a bit of finger food and a delicious birthday cake we were both pretty hungry by the time we got back to Hartford so we decided to have a late (by Hartford standards) dinner at O’Porto on Park Street in Hartford.

O’Porto is in an old factory just over the Hartford/West Hartford line that was redeveloped by Carlos Mouta a/k/a “the Prince of Parkville.” Carlos is Portuguese, although he spent his childhood in Mozambique, which was a Portuguese colony until 1975.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Segarra vs. Vargas: Let's Rumble!

The Hartford Mayoral race is down to three candidates; the incumbent Pedro Segarra, and challengers Edwin Vargas and J.Stan McCauley. The fourth challenger, Shawn Wooden, made a sudden turn and joined forces with the Mayor, his former opponent. As is often the case in professional wrestling and politics, the former challenger seems to have forgotten the insults hurled at his new tag team partner. But that's another topic for another time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hartford Pay Phone #32

This very urban pay phone marks the thirty-second phone tracked down in our long running Hartford Pay Phone mapping contest. Located in the North End at the corner of Guilford and Bethel, this pay phone could no doubt tell a good deal of stories.

Observers will note many Hartford urban area trademarks are present in this photo. The multi-family brick building in the background is common to the area and many, presumably built around the same time, can be found throughout the city in various stages of repair. The bodega is painted a blue color that looks like it was just slapped on to cover up whatever the previous color was. Finally there is the mysterious metal strip across the number pad that seems to exist only on urban phones and for which nobody seems to know the purpose of.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Very Rude Grafftti

We found this very, very rude graffiti at this very, very urban basketball court on Cedar St. Poor, poor Sugar Bones. Guess it wasn't her (his?) day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Hartford Food Guy visits Vaughan's

Notwithstanding my English ancestry, I've always been partial to all things Irish. It probably stems from the fact that I went to elementary school (Holy Family) with many, many Irish-Americans, and from the fact that my favorite teacher was a 5' tall nun named Mary Eileen Hayes. Sister Eileen's older brother Danny was a carnation wearing, Irish-American politician of the very old school. Sister Eileen used to campaign shamelessly for him on election day, enjoining us to tell our parents "to save a vote for Danny Hayes" which we did, no doubt fearful of both God's wrath, as well as Sister Eileen's, should Danny Hayes not get re-elected to the city council.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hartford Street Art

Mural on Cedar Street, off of Park.

Tasting Hartford

Image courtesy of www.woodntap.com

The Summer 2011 Taste of Hartford has come and gone, as always, too soon and before we were able to visit every restaurant we intended to. To be quite frank about it, we use the Taste of Hartford to check out restaurants whose regular prices might keep us away. During this two-week Taste of Hartford, we visited two of Hartford's most well known downtown restaurants; Dish and Trumbull Kitchen.

We visited Dish for an early mid-week dinner. Dish was decided on because (1) a quick decision had to be made and we remembered hearing in passing that Dish had a great Taste menu and (2) the convenience of finding it for our out of town dinner companion. We have been to Dish before, in fact for the winter Taste of Hartford.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Capewell Manufacturing Company

One of the popular rhetorics today is the call for America to return to it's roots as a manufacturer, to produce goods. As a turn of the century powerhouse, Hartford boasts quite a manufacturing history, most famously, Colt Manufacturing.  We recently came upon a large empty factory on Popieluszo Street and as a result learned a little bit of Hartford history that we were unaware of.

Taking up an entire block and surrounded by a fence and barbed wire, aging signs in the entrance told us that this boarded up building was once the home of the Capewell Manufacturing Company. An empty factory is a curious thing. To think that a building once filled with such activity now stands empty and lifeless for whatever reasons is always intriguing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reggae In The Park

Seems like it's been Caribbean week in Hartford. Last weekend we visited the Caribbean Festival on the Riverfront and this weekend was the West Indies parade and reggae in the park. Who knew there was so much reggae music? We were always under the impression that reggae was kind of like a Nine Inch Nails and industrial rock situation; Bob Marley and no one else. Apparently that's not the case.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Batman: Park Street's Man Of Mystery

Another shot of the mysterious Batman who patrols Park Street. Who is this man and why does he patrol Park St dressed as Batman? Sad City isn't bright enough to answer these types of vexing questions. Is he a bored millionaire from Scarborough Street? Is he a crime reporter from the Hartford Courant? A player from the Hartford Colonials looking for side work? Only time will tell if the identity of Batman will be revealed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A North End Mattress Colony

One of the Hartford phenomenons that occurs in the summer and that Sad City documents is the rise of various mattress colonies on Hartford's sidewalks. While the mattresses can be found throughout the city, occasionally we find a colony that can't be passed up and needs to be posted. This is one such colony.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Hartford Food Guy: Piolin

One night about 5 or 6 years ago my wife and I were going to go to Coyote Flaco on New Britain Avenue. It was raining, however, and we could see from our car that the place was packed and people were waiting outside the door trying to stay out of a light rain by leaning up against the building. There also didn't seem to be any parking close by, which meant we'd have to park up on Mountain or Harvard Streets and walk a bit. As much as we were craving Mexican food, we decided to go elsewhere

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Caribbean Festival

Saturday we visited the Caribbean Festival on the Riverfront. Actually we visited it twice, making an early afternoon trip and returning a few hours later in the evening. The festivals on the Riverfront are usually hit or miss. Sometimes there is a huge crowd, sometimes the crowd is a little underwhelming. The Caribbean Festival was definitely in the hit category.

During our afternoon visit the Riverfront was already packed with people. We came down for lunch and found it at the Scott's Bakery stand with a chicken patty and cocoa bread. You can really never go wrong with cocoa bread. We've been tempted a few times just to order three cocoa breads but we don't think that's exactly a balanced meal. Along with the food vendors, there were merchandise vendors selling literally everything under the sun with the Jamaican flag scheme and Bob Marley on it. Have to hand it to Bob Marley's estate, he's certainly reached the Star Wars level of cottage industry merchandising.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Russian Orthodox Church

It's been a while since we had a new post on The Hartford Houses Of Worship. Instead today we revisit our favorite church in Hartford, the Russian Orthodox Church. Tucked deep into the South End and not all that much larger than the multi-families that surround it, the Russian Orthodox Church is easily missed. The first time we came across it we were just cruising around the South End in a residential area and were stunned to suddenly see a trio of gold domes poking out above the trees. It's not the biggest nor the oldest house of worship Hartford, buy it may be the most unique.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Night In The Life Of

Pic courtesy of Mike Trojanowski

Most of our out of town friends live in towns like Glastonbury and Colchester down the Route 2 corridor of the "Red Sox side" of the Connecticut River. Often these friends will ask, "what is it that you do for fun in Hartford?" The answer typically is sometimes along the line of "oh you know, meet up with some friends to eat and get some drinks." While this is technically an accurate answer, it is also what almost everyone in the world does when they go out and certainly doesn't do anything to convey why we choose to live in Hartford. This dawned on us on a recent Friday night in the West End, a night that pretty much sums up why we like to in an urban area.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hartford Pay Phone #31

It's actually quite surprising that this particular pay phone didn't get listed on the Sad City Pay Phone Search until #31. Located at the busy intersection of Park and New Park Ave, we drive by this pay phone all the time. There's a lot going on around this intersection. There is the Parkville Community Elementary School which has tons of different flags hanging on it. At a long line at the light it's always fun to try and see how many flags you can recognize. Turn one way down Park Street and you get great Asian food, turn the other way and you will get great Mexican and Latin American food.

Or just stop, get out and make a call. But whatever you do, don't go into the store hawking DirecTV. It's a whole other story for another time but trust us, you do not want to deal with DirecTV. Ever. Probably the most predatory company operating in Hartford.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hartford Food Guy Reviews: Roadside Dogger

After writing about our visit to the Lucky Taco truck yesterday we decided to follow up by posting the Hartford Food Guy's visit to the Roadside Dogger a couple weeks ago. Sad City falls squarely in the Anthony Bourdain camp of loving street food. Seems like food trucks, like cupcakes, are kind of the new in thing these days. One of the highlights of any visit to NYC is the ability to eat different types of street food while wandering about the city. 

We only wish there was more street food in Hartford. Instead we'll just have to settle for the ice cream truck at night.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lucky Taco Truck

On Monday we had to return a library book and stop by City Hall so we figured we'd grab lunch at our friends pulled pork food truck in Bushnell Park. When he wasn't there we had to consider our other options. Most consider the thai truck the top dog of food trucks in Hartford. We'd have to agree. We'd write about that except that we have two friends who have ate at literally every thai and pho place in the area and have promised us a lengthy review at some point.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Where's The Beef?

The latest thing whipping everyone up into a frenzy on the Hartford scene is the Hartford branding effort being undertaken by the MetroHartford Alliance. It's an effort whose intention is in the right place, but it's an effort that is unduly expensive and far too drawn out. These days people seem love the idea of marketing and branding. Go hop around Twitter for awhile, every third person appears to be a VP of marketing or branding for some sort of company.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Changing Hartford One Good Deed At A Time

The Half Door is one of the best places in Hartford. It did have the drawback of having what was officially known as Hartford's Most Awkward Bathroom. Not anymore. In what we suspect was a reaction to the diligence and crack reporting by Sad City, we can confirm that the men's room at the Half Door now has dividers.

Most industry analysts are calling this a brilliant move. One analyst who specializes in tracking trends in Hartford bathrooms says that they expect this move to "reduce bathroom awkwardness by 97%" while increasing the Half Door's bottom line as male patrons will be encouraged to indulge in an extra pint or two. "Our research shows that people go to the Half Door to drink beer and eat food, and this move will embolden customers to do more of the former."