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WEST HARTFORD West Hartford Statistics

Town Site - Public Schools - Public Library - Visit - Numbers You Need

West Hartford remained a farming community well into the late nineteenth century, when Hartford’s business leaders began building their mansions along Prospect Avenue’s ridge — a ridge which afforded a view of the burgeoning city they were helping to create, as well as close proximity to Elizabeth Park, designed by acclaimed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Sons in 1896 and named for the wife of Charles H. Pond, who bequeathed the land to the City of Hartford.

Soon, nearby neighborhoods began to take shape as turn-of-the-century trolley lines made it possible for professionals and their families to settle along Prospect Avenue, then north of Farmington Avenue and around Elizabeth Park — often in substantial brick Colonials, Tudors, and custom designs that reflected the success of those who owned them. And as the century progressed, the development continued north on Bloomfield Avenue toward the University of Hartford, and northwest into what is now called the Hartford Golf Club area.

But West Hartford’s greatest evolution occurred in response to the robust economic growth of the capital city during the post-World War II era, when the high-tech and insurance industries began to prosper in downtown Harford, creating a greater demand for new housing on the city fringes.

In the 50s, the primary avenues — Albany, Asylum and Farmington — became important arteries for commuters, while the next decade saw major highways, such as I-91 North and South and I-84 East and West, make West Hartford highly accessible for families of more modest incomes. Likewise, as road and related improvements were made farther west on Albany Avenue, land became available for subdivisions of the new ranch-style, split level, and compact Colonial-style homes that encircled Bishops Corner, the commercial nexus of the mid-60s.

Along with those homes came The Crown Super Market, a kosher food landmark, which moved north on Albany Avenue to its location in Bishops Corner to remain close to the Jewish population, then in the process of establishing a vibrant religious and residential community. Similarly, a segment of the Hartford’s north-end Irish community established a new neighborhood west of North Main Street in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when Northwest Catholic High School and St. Timothy’s Church and Elementary School were created.

West Hartford today continues to not only grow but to renew itself, remaining every bit as desirable now as it was when the first mansions were going up along Prospect Avenue. Indeed, with just over 64,000 residents, West Hartford has become an ethnically diverse community in which some 66 different languages and dialects are spoken. There are now over 30 different places of worship in town. With most homes costing on average between $145,000 and $350,000 — and the median home sale price $295,000 — the community offers great value to a widely-ranging population. And through insightful planning, West Hartford has become home to a rich assortment of marketplaces.

As Bishops Corner adds new condos and apartments here and there, its commercial base continues to evolve, with almost every street welcoming either new businesses or exciting restoration and expansion. And as Albany Avenue becomes Albany Turnpike — or Route 44 — and widens, it connects West Hartford to Avon, as well as to Simsbury and Farmington, where impressive homes perched along the western hilltops overlook Hartford, West Hartford, and the Farmington Valley.

West of Bishops Corner, where North and South Main Streets intersect Farmington Avenue, is the geographical midpoint of the town — West Hartford Center. The Center, as it is commonly known, is the town’s principal retail district, the seat of the town government, and a favorite location for many community events. And with North Main leading back through Bishops Corner and Bloomfield to I-91, and South Main leading directly to I-84, it is ideally situated for such roles. In fact, despite having lost some of its longtime retail base to the malls and plazas sprouting up on the town’s fringes, the mid-90s saw West Hartford Center leverage its small-scale architecture, pedestrian amenities, and convenient parking to not only reinvent but reassert itself, attracting some of the Hartford region’s most celebrated new restaurants and upscale clothiers, which, in turn, helped retain the older, well-established jewelers and other specialty shops.



Traveling west out of the Center, Farmington Avenue crosses Mountain Road, a major north-south artery, and becomes the most direct link to the town of Farmington. And east of the Center, just beyond the town green, is Blue Back Square.

Completed in 2008 and convenient to I-84 from South Main Street, Blue Back not only features 230,000 square feet of trendy retail, 60,000 square feet of offices, a major healthcare facility, Whole Foods, 120 luxury condos, and a movie theater, but is also poised to welcome a new hotel, adding an impressive dimension to the what local media now refer to as “the region’s downtown.”

Heading further west along South Main, as well as Troutbrook Drive, contiguous to Blue Back Square, are two additional historic neighborhoods.

The first is the Park Road neighborhood, which extends a full 12 blocks west of the Hartford city line and retains much of its mid-1900s character, with housing above some stores, many solid two- and three-family homes, ethnic markets, affordable restaurants, longtime family businesses, and a host of corner taverns and saloons frequented loyally by local residents.

The second historic neighborhood is Elmwood Center, which links Quaker Lane South, New Park Avenue, and South Main Street to New Britain Avenue and Westfarms Mall. Here, tidy single and two-family homes still line the streets, along with an exciting burst of renovation and redevelopment. Elmwood’s main attraction is food — but not fancy food. Indeed, few meals are priced over $20, and many spots will fill you up for under $10. And keeping these small eateries company is a popular art supply super store, a storefront Fred Astaire studio that teaches students to dance (while entertaining passersby), karate and Pilates studios, a CVS and Walgreens, a bank, a convenience store and an unobtrusive gas station.



From Elmwood, heading east, is New Park Avenue, now evolving into a center for specialized home products and design services, and New Britain Avenue, where a neighborhood of Asian businesses anchored by the busy A Dong Supermarket has revived much of the old Shield Street Plaza. Heading west leads to the Corbin’s Corner/Westfarms section of town. Here, Conard High School, built in the late 1950s, and Rockledge Country Club, town-owned and open to the public, featuring a nice 18-hole golf course and popular restaurant, are well-known landmarks. West of Conard and Rockledge are well-groomed neighborhoods anchored by several excellent elementary schools.

Just above Ridgewood Road are the Wood Pond and Woodridge Lake areas — once seasonal enclaves that have grown to become stylish waterfront addresses. And nearby, impressive town-owned swimming and skating facilities are complemented by Buena Vista Golf Course, a sweet 9-hole, par-32 setup that totals less than 2,000 yards.

Finally, on the town’s southwest fringe — situated mostly in Farmington but always identified with West Hartford — is Westfarms Mall itself, which was built in 1974. Sitting astride I-84, conveniently connected to the town’s main internal arteries, and comprising more than 1.3 million square feet of stores and restaurants, Westfarms remains the granddaddy of regional retail centers.

Photograph by Lanny Nagler