Once undeveloped farmland, where military encampments were held and wintertime brought skating on the Connecticut River, the North Meadows underwent tremendous change in the late 20th century. With large parcels of land and convenient access to Interstate 91 and downtown Hartford, it developed into an industrial and commercial area and is home to several auto dealerships, the headquarters of Connecticut Transit, the City's Bulky Waste & Recycling Center, the main branch of the U.S. Post Office, a correctional facility, municipal offices, as well as a live music venue and Riverside Park.
The park has been around for a century but, in the early 21st century, was revitalized into a desirable location for boating, picnicking, fishing, cycling and walking. It also contains a playground, picnic area, a boathouse that can be rented for special events and is the northern terminus of Riverwalk, which winds its way along the river for 1.7 miles to the South Meadows.
The dike that prevents the Connecticut River from causing the kind of damage it once did can be seen on the way to Riverside Park. After heavy rains or snow melt, parts of the park are underwater and it is then that the dike can be appreciated.
A landfill sited here operated from 1940 until December 31, 2008 when it was closed and a long-term environmental control system put into place. In 2011, the Connecticut Recovery Resources Authority embarked upon a project to install solar collectors at the site, allowing for a six-acre solar field. The City of Hartford is now working on plans for potential future uses of the encapsulated landfill. One possibility includes walking and biking trails, fitness courses and a park. Tthe landfill is already a habitat to several species of birds, including as hawks, plovers and sandpipers.
Due to its industrial nature and the number of highway overpasses that populate the North Meadows, it is not very difficult to find the work of graffitti artists that have emblazened concrete walls with bold graphics and bright colors. These often amazingly good illustrations create their own kind of rogue art gallery in places.
There are very few roads in the neighborhood and those that exist seem to be named after their function or in honor of a local personality. One exceptionFishFry Streetis now transected by the railroad, creating two dead-ended halves of the road. The genesis of its name is not entire known, but one might wonder if it is due to a certain activity that once took place in the North Meadows.
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