The Little River

How do you get paralized by building a bridge?  But if only we still had that bridge crossing the Park River into Bushnell park.  From the poem by Wallace Stevens to the history of the pollution and filth of those lower class workers (and horrible immigrants) to the Bushnell and Olmsted landscape architecture – one thing runs through our readings (as it ran through Hartford itself): the “Little/Mill/Hog/Park – after Bushnell’s efforts – River.”  From what I gather, all those illustrious planners and thinkers would certainly be horrified to see what later generations did with that river.  It was just as responsible for Bushnell Park and Pope Park’s dimensions as was the Ct. River for Riverside Park.  All the walkways and strategic plantings of native trees and flowers related to the river.  But just as interesting is the idea that the glorious beautiful things Hartford celebrated and still celebrates were often invented to cover up the stuff no one wanted to see – the poor, the dirty and the undercurrent of those outside the institutions of control.  It’s like Ani Difranco’s song “Fuel” about the slave cemetary discovered beneath Manhattan – where “there’s a fire just waiting for fuel.”    It’s one thing to reconstruct Samuel Colt’s extravagent gardens and do away with his greenhouses and his ponds.  It’s another thing to obliterate Front street and the whore houses on State street and the ethnic culture of the riverside.

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About jschristie

Liberal Arts Degree Program Coordinator English Professor of Composition, Literature, and Latino Literature View all posts by jschristie

One response to “The Little River

  • klamkins

    The funny thing is that the bridge is still there! Its arches have been filled with earth. I’m trying to find a picture which shows it, but no luck so far. Also, the flooding of the river seems to have been a red herring. I have heard that in fact there were other ways to stop the devastating floods that didn’t involve burying the river. I’m going to try to find a source on that.

    I did find some other interesting links:
    Paddling Hartford’s Scenic Sewer” NY Times, 2003

    And a great timeline of the Park River:
    http://www.parkriver.org/History2.html

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