The completion of Phase I of an overall renovation of Pope Park will be celebrated this Saturday, June 17, from 2-5 pm.
The celebration will be centered on the new entrance to the park at the corner of Park Street and Park Terrace. In addition to an official ribbon-cutting for the ornamental new entrance, there will also be a tree planting ceremony, high-wheel bicycle demonstrations, a “Parade on Wheels” of persons on bicycles, rollerskates, baby carriages and wheelchairs and numerous other activities.
Pope Park was created in the 1890’s by bicycle and automobile manufacturer Albert Pope to improve the quality of life for his employees. Originally, Pope Park ran along both banks of the Park River from north of Hamilton Street to South of Capitol Avenue. When the river was put underground, the park’s unifying feature was lost. As a result, parts of the park fell into disuse, such as the area just east of I-84 and the portion of the park which lies north of Park Street (the Friends of Pope Park and the Hartford Work Bank have been working to clear out this area). The playground which lies between Russ Street and the southern terminus of Columbia Street is still used but is completely cut off from the rest of the park. In fact, roadways and other intrusions have reduced the actual size of the park by roughly 17 percent
The next phase of the Pope Park Master Improvement Plan calls for the removal of Pope Park Drive and the creation of a new parking lot in the southwest corner of the park along with numerous other improvements.