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Dear Search Engine,

Kerri Provost

October 21, 2010

I check blog statistics not so much to see what the numbers are, but to find out how people manage to wind up here. Mostly, the routes to Real Hartford are not all that surprising, but sometimes, there are winners. For example, someone earlier this year asked the Google Magic Eight Ball:

"how do you know when a tail light is out?"

What an excellent question! First, one must be able to know when the tail light is not out. When it works, you see light. When it is out, there is no light. But how can you figure this out if you are the one driving? Well, you can do one of a few things. You can sit in the vehicle while a trusted friend stands behind it, or you can stand behind the vehicle while the friend is inside. If you live in an area where getting out of a vehicle with keys in the ignition is an option, then you can go stand behind your own car. Please note that I am not an automotive specialist and these instructions are incomplete. I think your mechanic would love a phone call from you asking just this question. When she stops laughing at you, I am sure she will provide more detailed directions. You can also not worry yourself about such things and wait for the police to let you know. They will do this and give you a ticket at the same time. But, because you even had to ask this question, I’m not sure you deserve to drive.

Moving on. Checking my blog stats I see a lot of race-oriented searches and questions. Recently, someone wanted to know:

"best places for blacks to live in hartford"

I have no answer for this, only questions. Is there some sort of Zagat rating for neighborhoods in Hartford that I do not know about — Best Neighborhood for The Gays, Best Neighborhood for YUPPIES, Best Neighborhood for Latinos…? What would the criteria be? Who is asking this?

And then there are questions, no doubt posed by those who can not go two hours without a drink. I’m sure we have a nice neighborhood for them too:

"does the bushnell in hartford serve alcohol"

Would it not make more sense to check the Bushnell website for that information? Anyway, their cafe menu lists coffee, juice, and soda. My guess is that you are going to have to drink before or after the show, or bring a flask.

Someone else asks:

"how to meet people in hartford"

Get out of your house or car. There are lots of people here. Instead of driving to a bar, try walking. Visit the library. Look up and say hello. Visit a coffee shop that allows patrons to linger for hours on end. Better yet, lure new friends with cupcakes. Which brings us to the question:

"how to own cupcake truck"

That seems like a lot of effort to expend when you could buy from already existing cupcake vendors. If you are set on doing this, then observe what the ice cream and cupcake trucks are — old trucks that have been repainted and remodeled inside. There are already a few cupcake trucks in Connecticut. Why not do something more original, like start up a bike messenger company that strictly delivers cupcakes at breakneck speeds?

That would be unsafe, wouldn’t it? Someone else wants to know:

"is frog hollow hartford safe during day?"

It depends. Why are you here?

Like any neighborhood, if you are visiting because you are taking part in the street economy (i.e. wrecking our city by buying drugs or selling drugs) then you are not necessarily safe and my pity is limited if you tangle with someone as a result of your selling/buying. Additionally, if you are coming in to participate in the drug trade, do not be shocked if people living in the neighborhood tell you to leave.

If you are just walking though, visiting a restaurant, or doing something normal, then it is most likely going to be safe. There are no guarantees in life.

People need to practice common sense. If you are walking around while texting, you are (1) possibly going to get hit by a car because you are not paying attention (2) not paying attention to what may be going on around you (3) advertising that you have something of value that you can be robbed of.

Your comfort level may be different from mine, but other than the annoying catcalls which are irritating though not dangerous (not to me anyway), it feels safe. What one should be asking is how safe it is to get in a car and drive. Seriously. Compare everything to car crashes and you will feel safer when you are not in cars.

Trying to ascertain the safety of a neighborhood makes little sense. There is no neighborhood in Hartford that is entirely dangerous, just as there is no neighborhood in Hartford that is entirely safe. A perfectly lovely block can be in the same neighborhood as a dangerous block. If you’re truly worried, it might be more meaningful to pinpoint blocks, convenient stores, and particular buildings as crime hot spots.

Another person wants to know:

"was hartford always connecticut’s state capital?"

It was not. New Haven used to be the capital and you can read more about this at the CT.gov website. Now, New Haven is the Swedish furniture capital of Connecticut.

"What were all the Puerto Ricans doing sunday June 3rd in hartford"

You are actually thinking of June 6th, but I won’t let you be oppressed by the calendar. It was not all of them. There were, in fact, some Puerto Ricans not in Hartford. I would venture a guess that many of them were in Puerto Rico. Of those in Hartford, some were participating in different activities, like mowing the lawn or going to church. Others were at the Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade.

People ask lots of questions about dates:

"when did actual development begin on Front Street retail in hartford"

Fourscore and seven years ago, my ancestors…

But seriously, it’s been awhile.

Someone, perhaps not so concerned with numbers but concepts, wants to know:

"any puerto rican day parade incidents?"

This year? In all eternity? In Hartford? New York? If something significant happened this year, the evening news would have gleefully reported on it. They love that kind of thing.

Some joker wants to know:

"what is the difference between east hartford and west hartford?"

Besides that they are on different sides of Hartford (hence, East and West) they are worlds’ apart in terms of household income. West Hartford has no riverfront access; East Hartford does. East Hartford has a football stadium; West Hartford has the Cheesecake Factory.

Someone Several people wants to know:

"who makes cheesecake factory cupcakes"

Elves. Maybe people.

People are obsessed with cupcakes. Cupcakes and the so-called “North End.” Someone recently inquired:

"is asylum hill part of the north end of hartford"

Asylum Hill is Asylum Hill. It is its own neighborhood. If one peeks at a map, she will see that not only is Asylum Hill in a northern region of Hartford, but the West End is as well. Yes, the West End where hot shot lawyers live in enormous mansions. Parts of Downtown are also more north than south.

If you are trying to determine where some crime occurred, look up the street address and then refer to a helpful map to find out exactly which neighborhood it happened in. Do not expect the media to get all of the details correct.

To find out where something is, it helps to spell it correctly. Someone wants to know, in fragment form:

"easy walk from wadaworth athenium to capitol?"


There were a lot of subjective questions in there. Easy walk for whom? Safe, according to whom?

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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