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  • Bushnell ParkBushnell Park Hartford, Connecticut
    Bushnell Park inside of Hartford, Connecticut is the oldest publicly financed park in this country, thought of by Reverend Horace Bushnell in the mid 1850s; when the need for public places were being realized. Bushnell asked his friend and Hartford native, Frederick Law Olmsted to design the park, but since he was presently working on a similar idea for New York City, called Central Park, he was forced to decline. Instead, he recommended Jacob Weidenmann, a Swiss born landscape architect and botanist; who envisioned a park with long and graceful walkways, clusters of trees that would shield the visitors from the noise of the city and traffic, plus enhancing the Park River area that flowed through it. Years later, other additions were placed in the park and include; the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch designed by George Keller in 1886 to give honor to those that fought in the Civil War, the Horace Wells monument in 1875, sculpted by Truman Howe Bartlett, the Corning Fountain in 1899 with sculpture by J. Massey Rhind, the carousel in 1974, and the performance pavilion that was constructed in 1995. Because of seasonal flooding, especially the great flood of 1936, the river was placed in conduits underground, thus losing a valuable and important feature of the park; but later a pond was added to put a water feature in the park, and is now one of the focal points of downtown Hartford. There are numerous concerts and festivals held there each year, and it has become one of the favorite spots for people working, shopping or just being in the area for different reasons.  The park was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1970 and is one of the only places in the downtown area where you can rest or relax during lunches. There is also a bronze statue of Israel Putnam, a Revolutionary War general, that was created by J. Ward, and presented to the city in 1874; and the pumphouse gallery that was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1947, using stones that were obtained from the river when it was being buried, and is a Tudor style building, that looks more like an old English cottage, but is actually a pumphouse for controlling the Connecticut River Flood Control Project, and art gallery that showcases many works by the local talent. The park cafe & gallery is 5000 square feet, with seating for 150 people in the cafe; with full bar and menu, with daily specials, live music in the evenings and special weekend events.

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  • Old State HouseOld State House Hartford, Connecticut
    The Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut was finished in 1796, believed to have been the first design of Charles Bulfinch, and managed by the Office of Legislative Management for the state general assembly. The outside and Senate area has been restored to their original Federal style architecture, while the Representative's chamber is Victorian and halls and courtroom are Colonial Revival. Its appearance is quite similar to the Town Hall of Liverpool, England that was built in the mid1700s, and might have been in one of the books that Bulfinch studied while becoming an architect, but all the materials were from this country, with the first story sitting 20 feet high and made of Portland, Connecticut brownstone. The second and third stories are made of brick, that was patterned after the Flemish bond and the cornice is wood. The building has been modified, with a balcony and cupola being added later. The balustrade was added to protect firemen in the early 1800s and the cupola in 1827 to house the bell and John Stanwood's statue of justice. A marvelous stone spiral staircase was behind the northern arch and designed by Asher Benjamin, which led to the second and third floors, but is now gone. The Hartford Convention was held here in 1814, and the Amistad trial in 1839. It was made a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and had been close to being closed and quite possibly demolished in 2008 because of financial problems, but was signed to a 99 year lease under management of the Office of Legislative Management. The display inside highlight the city's history and most important events, with visitor access to the legislative rooms. The Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities sits on the third floor with a recreation of Joseph Seward's original collection of natural history exhibits and curiosities from 1798. Numerous eye witnesses have seen strange things going on in the building over the years, and in 2009, TAPS came to investigate on episode 524 of the Ghost Hunters show. The show aired on December 9, 2009, and although there were some EVPs recorded, not enough was conclusive so they plan on returning.

January 11, 2011