Hartford’s North End: Remembering the Old Neighborhood

Last month, I was searching for a gift for my father’s birthday, when I heard a report on the radio about a book called, Remembering the Old Neighborhood. The book chronicles the history of Hartford’s North End. I went on to read a Hartford Courant story about the book. That led me to stop off at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, to pick up a copy.

Rather than review my comments about the book (I haven’t read the whole thing yet), which I gave to my father, a North End native; you can read a summary at this blog, called Tracing the Tribe. My father, Stanley Livingston, was born in Hartford and grew up on Edgewood Street, a short walk from Keney Park. He is a Weaver High School graduate. My grandmother, Sylvia Hurwitz Livingston, also grew up in the North End. Horst Engineering was founded on Garden Street, four streets over from Edgewood. The business started on the second story of a barn and my grandfather, Harry, operated the business in Hartford for four years before moving it to East Hartford in 1950. We haven’t moved our domestic plant since, and we are badly in need of more space and more modern digs, but that is another story.

Hartford’s North End was a cultural and economic hub for much of its modern history. The neighborhood has changed a lot in the past forty years. A mass migration of predominantly Jewish families, to the suburbs, left the neighborhood to a new generation of residents. My grandparents moved to Bloomfield in the late 1960’s. Nowadays, you cannot ignore the fact that the North End is home to many of the city’s poorest residents. It is also a place where crime thrives. This doesn’t make it a bad place, but it does mean that some of the cultural heritage is lost and that visiting isn’t as pleasant an experience as it once was. I will occasionally ride my bicycle through the neighborhood on a quiet Sunday morning. Fortunately, this new book does a good job at reviving some vibrant memories for the neighborhood’s past residents.

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