If you don’t have a phobia of urban settings, idle teens and the smell of stale piss, then may I suggest that you take a look at the New Ross County Wexford park in Hartford.
This incredible (well, it could be) concrete space exists at the corner of Trumbull and Main Street, right on top of I-84 (aka the Hartford tunnel). The park was “built in 1995 to hide portions of the highway and was meant to be a physical bridge between downtown and the Clay Hill neighborhood” so says HartfordInfo.org. The park is divided into three sections which allows traffic to flow freely through the streets that existed long before the park was ever imagined. Even in it’s unfortunate state, you can see that the space had incredible potential. There are flower beds, now maintained by Knox, which could have been receptacles for beautiful plants and shrubbery. Benches a basketball court and painted grids for hop scotch and other games that could have been utilized by the throngs of students from Capital Community College, University of Connecticut, Capital Preparatory Magnet and St. Joseph’s University School of Pharmacology, all schools which now have a presence within a block of Wexford Park.
I work in downtown Hartford and I could definitely imagine myself sitting there catching up on tweets, chatting it up with friends or just watching the cars go by during my cherished 1-hour break from my desk and my stressed out co-workers. I could even imagine the people in my community hosting (of course, after a power wash with bleach) one of their jerk festivals or cookouts, or outdoor dances on the space, the soca, salsa or reggae beats thumping loudly at the edge of downtown, the pungent smell of jerk chicken, roast corn and fried plantains wafting through the air. The space is certainly big enough to support hundreds of entertainment hungry Hartford residents looking for the next event to mingle and be seen.
The park is now frequented by skateboarders and has been unofficially and officially dubbed skate board park. Unofficially because the signs still says, “Wexford Park,” and officially because earlier this year, the City was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Tony Hawk foundation to assist with “improvements” to make the site skate friendly. The park is also “the spot” for a number of undesirables who with their leering eyes and alcoholic refreshments hang out in the park where they find relief on the benches and in the corners.
The park has also become a haven for graffitti artists, beautiful murals that I always wanted to utilize and see up close. At my suggestion, Ossie and I “braved it” and ventured over the concrete walls to take this weeks blog photos. This is where we found this group of kids. They weren’t the usual pack that I see scaling the concrete walls and jumping over impossible things on their skateboards as if they were superheros or had rubber bones. They were younger kids, really nice kids, dancers, students of Jumoke Academy who were there hanging out waiting for “something” that never came.
Ossie took these photos!