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.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Civic Center Collapse

This week marked the 34th anniversary of the Hartford Civic Center roof collapse. As bad as the collapse was, it was very lucky that no one was killed in this mishap. Only hours before, the venue hosted a UConn-UMass basketball game. This was way before Marcus Camby, Cliff Robinson, and even Jim Calhoun.

We looked at these pictures of the roof collapse way, way back in the Sad City vault. Today, a generation has passed since the roof collapse and Hartford is facing a major decision on the future of a downtown entertainment. Many dream of an NHL return. The Civic Center collapse happened before Hartford even had an NHL team.

In 1974 Howard Baldwin moved the WHA New England Whalers from Boston to the Hartford Civic Center. In 1979 four WHA teams joined the NHL as the rest of the league folded. The Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers survived and joined the NHL.

Only the Oilers remain. The Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup five times between 1983 and 1990. None of the other WHA teams won a Stanley Cup, or even made the finals while in their original cities.

The current NHL season saw the Atlanta expansion franchise relocate to Winnipeg, giving the city a hockey team for the first time since the original Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes in the late 1990's. That Phoenix franchise is widely expected to move next season with Quebec considered the favorite and Las Vegas and Kansas City considered strong contenders. If a team were to end up in Quebec City, Hartford would be the last of the four WHA teams to got have an NHL team.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

The Hartford Courant has the best photo gallery of the collapse.

The awesome Facebook page "My NHL Includes Hartford" has more great pics.


  1. Great photo! An equally strong statement is made by the image when you see two beautiful buildings which didn't survive the development guru's of the day. Ann Street Bilingual School aka "La Escuelita" and The Hartford Hotel both can be seen just passed the coliseum.

    In their place 30 years later?

    Parking Lots

  2. Unfortunately, parking lots are given preferential tax treatment over commercial space. Given the preferential treatment and a market with, at best, uncertain demand for commercial space, there isn't going to be much incentive for the property owner to develop.

  3. Hartford's biggest problem is the tax rate. 70+ mils? That's unheard of, basically a 7% scalp of your assets, once a year. That will not attract anyone to invest.

    Until Hartford addresses this problem, the XL Center redecoration, magical Busway, and iQuilt playground are all just shiny new haircuts on a dying cancer patient. (no disrespect to cancer patients)

  4. Wow ann st bilingual school a building across the xl center if this photo was taken on a weekday during class hours I would be in the front top third left floor 6grade class mr Bernard I would be in class now wow brings back memories