What did the land in the North Meadows look like before the Hartford landfill was there?
The landfill in Hartford's North End opened in 1940, according to the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority.
In November of 1939, police set fire to 27 "dump dweller's homes" near the landfill. At that time, the 500-acre North Meadows area was filled with trash, stagnant water pools and "shack towns." But the land was sought after in the 1950s for redevelopment.
A roadblock to that redevelopment, however, was the fact that North Meadows was mostly marshland. Removal of earth to be used in the construction of a dike on the Connecticut River, as well as the construction of an expressway, left craters in North Meadows. Eventually, those craters filled with water, spilled over, and created a marshland.
The executive director of redevelopment in Hartford at the time, Herbert Wieland, suggested that the city install a network of ditches or storm sewers throughout the Meadows and connect them to a pumping station at the southeast corner of the property. The water would then be pumped into the river.
Wieland told The Courant that the city wanted to redevelop North Meadows to get the land on the city's tax rolls.
The efforts paid off — in 1955, The Courant reported, the North Meadows marshland was beginning to look less "jungle-like."
Hartford built the largest drive-in theater in the area in North Meadows — the parking lot could hold 1,050 automobiles.
The area also housed a trash incinerator, a dump and two auto graveyards.
Since 1988, the landfill has been receiving ashes, instead of solid waste, from the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority's trash-to-energy plant.
This year, the 80-acre landfill will reach its capacity and be capped. CRRA is exploring options for the redevelopment of the landfill.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at