Gilded crowns and Hartford wouldn't seem like a natural fit to the layperson. Said layperson might not be aware that only about 100 years ago Hartford was the wealthiest city in the United States. In the century since, Hartford has squandered nearly all of its advantages and opportunities, yet, like fossils of the t-rex, there remains evidence of power long since faded.
Ironically, Hartford's gild was almost exclusively produced in the city, at the Swift factory in the North End. The factory once employed as many as 500, but closed in 2005 after the death of its 102 year old owner M. Allen Swift, because, as legend has it, Mr. Swift kept all the companies crucial information in his head.
Today the factory sits vacant, yet another symbol of lost manufacturing jobs in the Northeast. Much of the Swift factory's work can be seen around Hartford, nothing more conspicuously than the State Capitol.
The State Capitol is Hartford's most visible and notable building. It's design is nothing short of magnificent. Opened in 1878, the Capitol was built at a time when Hartford occupied a spot as one of the nation's power cities.
Since then, the building has retained it's stately elegance while the city's influence and power has crumbled around it. Today it seems almost out of place, a curiosity, a nod to an era that has long past.
On a sunny day in Bushnell Park, one can't help but gaze at the majestic State Capitol and wonder what was and what might have been.