Quick Tour: Hartford’s West End

Transcript
Welcome to the quick tour of Hartford’s West End neighborhood, I’m Kyle Bergquist of Greater Hartford Real Estate TV.

Not surprisingly, the West End is on the western edge of the City. It’s made up of all the land north of Capital Avenue and West of the Park River’s north fork.

The neighborhood is mostly residential, with single-family and multi-family homes built in the very late 1800s and early 1900s. Apartments are available throughout the community in the numerous two and three-families, and in apartment buildings along the main roads.

Homes in the West End are some of the largest, and most architecturally detailed, in the City. One of the consistent themes is front porches, where you can find residents relaxing and socializing on summer evenings.

Many of life’s necessities are available at the retail shops along Farmington Avenue. There is also an impressively diverse collection of restaurants – some of the best in the City.

The Downtown business district is a short 2 miles away. Highway access is convenient, and bus lines provide an alternative to driving.

The community is home to residents of all professions and highly regarded institutions like the UConn Law School, Hartford Seminary, University of Hartford, and Connecticut Historical Society.

Finally, the West End has one of country’s premier public spaces in Elizabeth Park and its internationally renowned Rose Garden. The park also has annual gardens, sports courts, summer concerts, and many wonderful spaces to just relax and enjoy the moment.

For more information please feel free to reach out to us by phone or online. I’m Kyle Bergquist, and that’s the quick tour of Hartford’s West End.

 

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My Friend’s Place Playground, South Windsor

What a nice day yesterday! With temperatures in the 50s on the first day of February, Ellen and I decided to find a new playground to explore. We ended up at My Friend’s Place in South Windsor at the Parks & Recreation Department.

My Friend's Place, South Windsor

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 slides

Location: 150 Nevers Road, South Windsor; there is onsite parking.

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

My Friend’s Place is an expansive play area with multiple playscapes, numerous other features, and more rubber chips than I have ever seen in my life. Lots of opportunity for fun, but adults need to keep a close eye on their youngsters as the perimeter is open and the largest playscape is set on a lower level than the rest of the equipment.

Playscapes: There are two primary playscapes at the playground. A smaller piece seems perfect for the 2 – 4 year old set, while a larger one is clearly designed for older children.

Swings: Two sets of swings provide plenty of opportunities. The first has the three infant swings and an oversized safety swing. The second has four traditional swings, a tire swing, and another oversized safety swing.

Other Stuff: There are lots of interesting play stations spread throughout the playground. There is a music area with oversized xylophones to bang with mallets. There are what appear to be sensory tables that can be filled with sand or other materials. There are two teeter-totters of different styles, and there is a covered picnic area with garden seating area.

Facilities: I did not see any outdoor facilities, and must confess that we did not go exploring in either the Parks & Rec building or baseball field Press Box building. My bad – anyone know if there are bathrooms at this place?

Social Opportunities: High. We saw lots of other kids and parents on our visit and everyone seemed quite friendly. Since it’s a primary park in town, and is easily accessible with its own parking lot, I would expect it to be a popular destination.

Potential for Escape: Medium/High, since it’s completely unfenced. The good news is that the road is very far away, and even the parking lot is a good distance. My main concern with the setup was that the large playscape at the lower level is separated from the rest of the playground by a four foot retaining wall with a metal fence on top (to keep kids from falling). Ellen was on the upper level to (supposedly) go down the slide that feeds down to the lower level. She chose to run in the other direction, so I had to choose between going 100 feet in either direction to go around the fence or climb up the slide to chase her. Fortunately nobody was on the slide and I was able to take the shortcut up.

My Friend's Place - small playscape

My Friend's Place - large playscape

My Friend's Place - big wide open space

 

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Playground Review: Elizabeth Park, Hartford

Bushnell Park Playground, Hartford

Ellen heads downtown to check out the scene in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.

Ellen and I hadn’t been to a playground in a while, so we took a play break in Bushnell Park while running some errands in Downtown Hartford. Nothing like a slide to make us forget the agony of a trip to the bank!

Bushnell Park Playground - Both Playscapes

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 slides

Location: 65 Jewell Street, Hartford, entrance is near the intersection of Jewell and Ann.

Hours: Didn’t see any posted, so let’s go with Dawn to Dusk.

The playground at Bushnell Park is an oasis of kid fun in the grown-up environment of Downtown Hartford. Don’t miss the Carousel next door, and the swings at the eastern end of the park.

Playscape: There are two playscapes, both of comparable size. One has a surprising number of dead end paths, so it seems like it was designed more for exploring and climbing than anything else. The other has more slides and other features, and looks to be on a similar scale to the age 3+ playscapes at other parks.

Swings: There are not any swings near the playscape, but there is a swing area in Bushnell Park near the Pump House. If you’re in the park, just keep walking towards the super-tall apartment building (Bushnell Towers condos) and you’ll find the swings near its base.

Other Stuff: There are small tables and benches with a book theme, and a three row amphitheater. A very small “river bed” runs along the edge of the play area, but I have never seen it running. In theory it is an opportunity to splash and play in the summer. Expanding out beyond the playground, there are large open fields to run around and play in. There is also a pond with fountains and fish to admire. And of course, there is the Bushnell Park Carousel.

Facilities: I don’t think there are permanent bathroom facilities in the park. However, armies of port-a-potties invade the park when there are big events, so facilities are periodically available.

Social Opportunities: Medium. The playscape is not a super-busy area of the park, but Ellen and I have often found people to talk with during our visits. We are rarely the only people there even though we tend to visit at off-peak playground hours (mornings).

Potential for Escape: Medium/High. The playground is well fenced on the road side, with hedges and benches in addition to the fence. It seems to me that it would be a low risk of a kid wandering into the street. However, it is relatively open on the park side, with just a 3 foot retaining wall controlling the flow of kid traffic. I could imagine a kid getting out of sight surprisingly quickly if they took off towards the park and their parent wasn’t paying attention.

Bushnell Park Playground - Smaller Playscape

Bushnell Park Playground - Larger Playscape

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South Quaker & Flatbush Playground, West Hartford
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Mikey’s Place Playground, Wethersfield

Our fearless playground tester/reporter scopes out the scene in Wethersfield.

Mikeys Place Wethersfield - Large Playscape

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 slides.

Location: 330 Garden Street, Wethersfield, CT

Hours: 8am to sunset

Mikey’s Place is a sprawling playground that features different playscapes and other features for children of all ages and abilities. Fun, fun, fun!

Playscape: There are two primary playscapes. The one for smaller children feels like it goes on forever and is in a well fenced area with other equipment and activities. The playscape for older children is quite high, and features both some unique climbing options and a more gradual ascent that even a 2 year old can manage.

Swings: Mikey’s Place has every kind of swing one can imagine, everything from toddler swings, to large swinging sofas like you’d see hanging on a porch. There’s even a swing called Grandpa’s Boat that looks vaguely like a booth you would find at a restaurant – except it rocks back and forth.

Other Stuff: There is too much other stuff to possibly list. The park has interesting equipment tucked into open spaces in both the play area for smaller children and larger children. For example, there is a puppet stage with stool seating for about 10. Standish Park provides a large open field for play, and the Cove Park soccer field is less than a block to the north.

Facilities: There was an oversized port-a-potty just outside the play area when we visited that appeared to be a regular fixture.

Social Opportunities: Very high, Mikey’s Place looks to be a popular hangout. We were there in the early afternoon of a weekday and saw lots of other children and parents.

Potential for Escape: Medium. Although the area for small kids is fully fenced, except for openings on either end, we could imagine keeping up with an excited child might be difficult when the playground is busy. There is no fencing to speak of around the play area for the larger children.

Mikeys Place Wethersfield - Small Playscape

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South Quaker & Flatbush Playground, West Hartford

Another report from the field by our interprid playground reporter.

Flatbush and Quaker Playground, West Hartford

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 slides

Location: 877 Flatbush Avenue, West Hartford, at the corner of South Quaker Lane.

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

A great place for younger children to go burn off some energy in a controlled environment. There is just one (large) piece of equipment, so no need to worry about anything distracting from focused playing!

Playscape: The sole entertainment at this smaller playground is the newer playscape, which is labeled as ages 2 to 5. It seemed ideal for the younger end of that range as there is nothing too difficult or seemingly dangerous.

Swings: None.

Other Stuff: Nothing inside the fence. Well, a tree and some grass, but that hardly counts. However, the park is on the corner of a very large field that is used for soccer.

Facilities: None.

Social Opportunities: Limited. Not sure what the whole story is behind this little playground. It kinda looks like it was added on to the soccer fields so that younger siblings would have a place to entertain themselves while the older kids had practices or games. We haven’t been while the main fields were in use, but on two visits we only saw one other child playing.

Potential for Escape: Low. There is a large fence surrounding the entire playground, with the entrance quite far from the playscape. It’s a good place for high energy kids to go run around for a while without too much to worry about.

 

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