Friday 30 September 2016

Hartford, Connecticut: Six things to know about Aer Lingus's newest destination

'The filing cabinet of the world'

Published 21/10/2015 | 16:04

Hartford, Connecticut.
Hartford, Connecticut.
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut, USA at the Mark Twain historic house.
Pictured at the announcement of Aer Lingus's long-haul expansion was Aer Lingus Cabin Crewmember: Michelle Thompson. Picture: Jason Clarke
Connecticut state capitol, Hartford, CT.

Of the three new US destinations announced by Aer Lingus today, Hartford was most surprising. Random, even.

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LA? Sure - Aer Lingus flew there in the noughties, before pulling the route as the economy tanked in 2009. It's a logical partner to its San Francisco flights.

Newark? It struck some as odd that IAG's newest acquisition would go head-to-head with United, who already operate direct flights from Dublin to the New Jersey hub, but its proximity to New York and convenience for onward connections make sense.

But Hartford? The Google Maps were out for that one.

"The key issue is it is a significant commercial metropolitan area, with a significant population and very high per-capita income, but it doesn't have a direct service to Europe," explained Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh.

Not completely random, then. Here's your cheat sheet:

1. It's the gateway to New England

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Whaddya mean, Boston is the gateway to New England? Located roughly 100 miles southwest, midway between Beantown and New York, Hartford's Bradley International Airport could be the perfect launch pad for seasonal leaf-peepers.

Read more: Falling for New England: A local's guide to leaf-peeping

2. It's the insurance capital of the world

Well, according to Aer Lingus, anyway. Hartford is renowned for the number of insurance companies headquartered there - not of interest to tourists, perhaps (Lonely Planet calls it "the filing cabinet of the world"), but Aer Lingus isn't just looking at outbound tourism when it creates routes.

The airline, IAG, government and Dublin Airport itself are all working towards growing Dublin as a hub for transatlantic passengers entering and exiting Europe. A huge proportion of those are business and commercial travellers.

The Hartford route is seen as a "risk-sharing" one in its early years, with Aer Lingus receiving free landing charges for the first two years among a package of incentives in return for the connectivity it's offering to Europe.

3. Mark Twain lived there

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Dublin has James Joyce; Hartford has Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The author, who wrote under the pseudonym of Mark Twain, lived here from 1871 to 1891. It was here that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were born (imaginatively, anyway), and visitors can see the Twain House & Museum - "a stunning example of Gothic Picturesque architecture" - at 351 Farmington Avenue (marktwainhouse.org).

4. Its public art museum is the oldest in the US

That'll be the Wadsworth Atheneum (thewadsworth.org), founded in 1842. 50,000 works of art range from Greek antiquities to surrealist paintings, and admission is free on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 4-5pm! Hartford itself is one of the oldest cities in New England, so you won't want for historical hits on a visit.

5. Here's the science part...

Hartford is also home to the Connecticut Science Center (ctsciencecenter.org). The Cesar Pelli-designed building is home to 150 hands-on exhibits, covering everything from forensics to astronomy. Go science!

6. It's illegal to cross the street on your hands

So yeah, Hartford has some peculiar laws on its statutes... largely due to its Quaker heritage. It's not alone there, but some of the relics are pretty random.

As well as the headline here, according to a story recently published in the Hartford Courant, it's also illegal for a man to kiss his wife on Sundays, and for any barber or beautician to whistle, hum or sing while working on a customer. Sheesh!

For more on Connecticut, see ctvisit.com.

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