Park Street in Hartford is like a spine in the city. It starts in downtown Hartford and heads through the neighborhood called Frog Hollow, and stretches all the way to the city line with West Hartford. In Hartford’s Frog Hollow, the corridor is a lively place known as a hub for the Latino community, especially Puerto Ricans — but it’s very inclusive, and it’s changed over the decades.
“Before, there were a lot of Dominicans here,” said Yanil Teron, executive director at the Center for Latino Progress based on Park Street. “Now, there are Mexicans, Peruvians, people from Guatemala. The community is very rich in culture. It’s exciting to be able to see a vibrant street in Hartford — one of the most vibrant streets.” Park Street is so busy with activity, Teron said, that you’re better off not trying to drive or run straight through it — all the congestion will just slow you down.
State Rep. Angel Arce, who moved to Hartford with his family from Puerto Rico when he was seven, said the area used to include a lot of French Canadians and Greeks in the 1950s and 1960s. “Back starting around the ’70s — that’s when the Puerto Ricans started moving in that area,” he said. “And then in the ’80s, other nationalities started coming in.”
This episode, we learn how Park Street has changed, how its important history matters to Hartford, and what the place means now to some of the people who live there. We visit the owner of Pelican Tattoo, hear from teenagers fixing up bikes to give to the homeless, and stop in at the restaurant Comerio. It’s named after the Puerto Rican home town of Maria Sanchez, Hartford’s first Latina state lawmaker, and the first Hispanic woman elected to the Connecticut legislature.
Park Street Extras:
Joe Bascetta’s Pelican Tattoo business on Hartford’s Park Street had its origins in fashion. You can’t miss the shop, in a building decorated with a huge fluorescent mural. Learn more »
Listen to more audio from the Park Street radius:
Join WNPR as we map Hartford in a new way, searching for perspective on the city — its beauties, its issues, and most importantly its people.