The South End is one of Hartford largest residential neighborhoods. It provides a wide range of housing options, including one, two, and three family homes, apartments and condos. The neighborhood includes three commercial districts, Maple Avenue, Franklin Avenue, and Wethersfield Avenue and is home to some of Hartford’s best restaurants and food shops.
The South End neighborhood grew rapidly after World War I, with the subdivision of land for development. The area along Franklin Avenue became known as Little Italy, with restaurants, bakeries, markets and social clubs. Many of these establishments remain today and the area is a favorite of city residents and visitors alike for shopping and dining.
In the late-1800's, Hartford was seeing a boom in the development of parks. Reverend Francis Goodwin, who was chairman of the Hartford Parks Commission, championed the cause of green spaces with his slogan, "More Parks for Hartford." His plan was have the city circled by parks, much like the Fenway System that had been laid out in Boston.
Rev. Goodwin persuaded Charles Pond to donate his large estate to the cause, as well as Henry Keney to donate his land. As a result, we now have Elizabeth Park and Keney Park. South Park was developed in the southern end of the city and opened to the public around 1900. The following year, the parks commission renamed it Goodwin Park in recognition of Rev. Goodwin's service to the city.
When the first airmail was delivered to Hartford in 1918, it was in Goodwin Park that the plane landed — there was no other facility available. In 1921, two young airmen were killed trying to make a landing in the "barnstorming field." It was this incident that prompted the mayor, Newton C. Brainard, to build a proper landing field. Thus, Brainard Field was born.
Today, Goodwin Park is comprised of 237 acres (85 of which sit in the town of Wethersfield), and offers a playground, community pool and 27-hole golf course. The Friends of Goodwin Park was formed as a community group to watch over the park's maintenance and work on improvement projects.
Neighborhood description provided by Studio O'Maxfield.