Aug 6, 2014
01:37 PM
The Connecticut Story

Hartford and New Haven Ranked Among Top Five Unfriendly Cities; We Disagree

Hartford and New Haven Ranked Among Top Five Unfriendly Cities; We Disagree

John Berry

In this year’s installment of Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Reader’s Choice Survey, two Connecticut towns have ranked among the most unfriendly in the country.

Hartford ranked third on the publication’s list while New Haven came in fifth. Other top five cities included Atlantic City and Newark, N.J., at No. 4 and No. 1 respectively, and Oakland, Calif., at No. 2.

In explaining the ranks, the survey pointed to the capital city’s lack of tourist appeal as its major downfall—something Connecticut Magazine examined in the November 2013 issue.  

The ranking of New Haven as No. 5 is far less clear (and frankly, a little puzzling for us). Condé Nast Traveler declares the Elm City “stuffy” and associate that feeling with Yale University, and then quickly moves on to praising the city for its artistic amenities.

One visitor quoted in the writeup compliments the town for having "the most art and architecture within a half-mile range.”

We’re a little confused about what it exactly about New Haven that qualifies it as unfriendly—there are plenty of restaurants, bars, theaters and otherwise interesting events within walking distance. Yes it may be a little “stuffy,” what with an Ivy League university at its heart, but that's all part of the charm, in our humble opinion.

However, we are slightly more inclined to agree with the thoughts on Hartford.

While there are a number of attractions touted whenever anyone asks what to do in Hartford—the Wadsworth Atheneum, Mark Twain House (pictured below), Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Bushnell Park and a number of theater and music venues—the city has always suffered from the post-work 5 p.m. mass exodus.

As detailed in our story, the city is aware of the challenges and has been working (for years) to change the perception. Most recently, the state of Connecticut has invested millions in the development of the Front Street District.

The popular Norfolk-based music venue, Infinity Music Hall & Bistro, is set to open their $5.2 million Hartford expansion later this month. Ted’s Montana Grill opened across the street earlier this year and the Front Street Lofts (a 121-unit apartment building) is under construction nearby. Also in the neighborhood is the Connecticut Science Center and Connecticut Convention Center.

“The perception that there’s nothing going on, it’s an old mentality,” Anne Orsene, executive director of the Central Regional Tourism District, insisted in the November article.

Hopefully, with these new attractions and the continued investment of many passionate locals the city’s negative perception can change. (We’re rooting for you, Hartford!)

With two Connecticut locales taking a hit in this ranking, you may wonder who took home the trophy of most friendly city in the country. The answer: Charleston, South Carolina—followed by Savannah, Ga.; San Antonio, Texas; Telluride, Col, and New Orleans, La. The southern cities triumph, but is anyone really surprised what with southern hospitality being ingrained so deeply in each?

We say give Connecticut cities a chance. There a lot of good here—and more on the way.

To see Condé Nast Traveler's full Reader's Choice Survey, click here.

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Hartford and New Haven Ranked Among Top Five Unfriendly Cities; We Disagree

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