Hartford’s historic Keney Park in the northwestern area of the city is enormous. It has almost 700 acres of green space designated for the public to enjoy.
“Every time I walk into this park, I think of two things,” said Gregory Richard, also known as Joe, when we met him at the Keney Park Pond. “Henry Keney, the guy that dedicated this park — what the hell he had that he could give this much land to the city of Hartford. And then I think of this: he dedicated the land so that it could be nothing but a park. But out of all the parks in Hartford, this one is the least maintained.” Richard has been coming to the park for almost 50 years.
Henry Hester works every day to bring the park back to life. “Hartford is my home, and I’m invested,” he said. “My job has been to make this a healthy city, and for my grandkids to love where they live.” He’s an active member of the Friends of Keney Park, an organization of volunteers that helps to maintain and promote the park. “We want to continue to show the community that we’re worthy to be invested in,” Hester said. Keney Park is home to horse stables, a golf course, a cricket pitch, a pool, basketball courts, and old carriage trails.
Our radius for this episode is centered on the public pool in the park, and reaches out to the busy commercial district of Albany Avenue. We meet people working to change the neighborhood for the better, including one woman integral to the community, Denise Best, who said it took 15 years for Hartford to grow on her. As she walked down Albany Avenue, pointing out changes coming large and small, most of the people we passed said hello to her.
We also spend time learning about the history and impact of the Artists Collective, and we’ll hear from people involved in this year’s performance of Night Fall, which brought hundreds of new people to Keney Park. Above, you can also see images from around the park and the neighborhood.
Keney Park Extras:
The Ebony Horsewomen of Keney Park started out as a riding organization for African American women, but now they’re all about helping kids of all kinds. Learn more »
Listen to more audio from the Keney Park radius:
Learn more about Hartford’s Artists Collective through J Holt’s story for WNPR.
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