Two of the key tools cities across the country have used to revive themselves in the past two decades have been access to a waterfront and pedestrian/bicycle trails. Hartford gets a win on both counts this morning as the final section of Riverwalk North is set to be dedicated.
The last section of the walkway will connect downtown to Riverside Park, with its new boat launch, picnic facilities and Greater Hartford Jaycees Community Boathouse, just north of downtown. It recreates a connection first made in the late 19th century, when the Olmsted firm designed the park, and downtown tenement dwellers and workers walked up to enjoy the water and open space.
The paved and lighted walkway does several good things for 21st-century Hartford. It provides not only a great recreational opportunity - a walk along the river being more pleasant than a walk along a crowded street - but an economic asset as well. The Connecticut Convention Center can now offer river cruises from the park as well as outings at the boathouse. The walkway adds value to downtown properties and is an incentive for more investment.
Thanks to the steady progress made by Riverfront Recapture over more than a quarter-century, the dynamic of downtown Hartford has changed. The connection from Constitution Plaza to the river and East Hartford has brought a constant flow of walkers. The new river walk adds another dimension. Riverfront now turns its attention to the walk south of downtown, to the Colt Building and Charter Oak Landing. If all goes well, the river walks will connect to Windsor and Wethersfield and beyond, and will be a great amenity for Greater Hartford.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:20 this morning at the boathouse.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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