Great River – Great Park

Trying to get a better vantage point (without getting wet).

Trying to get a better vantage point (without getting wet).

In our rush to get to Riverside Park in time to catch the sun rise over the Connecticut River, we left one car about 100 feet from the entrance to another river-side park. Great River Park lies on the east side of the CT River and it also stands bare between a major levy and the rushing water. The two parks have much in common and yet they are quite different.

The first difference, is the fact that while Riverside Park is in the professional big brother City of Hartford, the little industrial brother East Hartford’s park is actually better tuned for workers-on-the-go. Riverside Park can be walked to from downtown Hartford, but when driving by, it gives you a clear “how do I get there?” feeling. Great River Park is accessible from several office parks, a couple of hotels and is a short walk across one of two bridges from Hartford. It’s also an easy off-on from the highway. In fact, I do that off-on little dance 2-3 days a week.

Great River Park doesn’t have any sports fields, no dragon boats, no team-building wall-crawl, and it doesn’t have nearly as much parking as its big city sister. But, it has amenities and features that Riverside Park would be envious of, if parks could feel envy.

Being both on the east side of the river and south of the Bulkeley Bridge, Great River Park stares across the mighty Connecticut River at downtown Hartford. The park offers almost 2 miles of lighted walkway along the river, exercise stations, bathrooms, sculpture, some playground equipment, picnic areas, and a boat launch and, according to the website, a 350-seat amphitheater. I have to admit, I’ve never seen the amphitheater in use, but I’ve walked the trails and I’ve taken hundreds of photos from the different little “river watching” venues along the length of the park. I’ve seen runners, joggers and walkers, all start their day on the various paths. I’ve seen fisherfolks launching all manner of craft into the river and I’ve seen a bunch of people like me, who simply like to start their day next to a river.

I wrote about this before; I’m trying not to repeat myself, but I’ll state the title again – there is something about a river that is good for the soul.

Great River Park begins at the Bulkeley Bridge, a beautiful stone arch bridge that carries Interstate-84 over the river. The park ends, I think, at the Charter Oak Bridge a couple of miles to the south. Hartford’s other significant water crossing, the Founder’s Bridge crosses in the middle of Great River Park and is easily accessible, if you like climbing stairs. All three bridges have sidewalks, but the website only lists the Founder’s and the Charter Oak bridges as providing pedestrian access to Hartford. In reality, only the Founder’s Bridge is a viable choice.

The Charter Oak Bridge crosses well toward the south of Hartford’s downtown district; it’s 2.6 miles from the parking lot at Great River Park to the heart of Hartford via that bridge. The Bulkeley Bridge sidewalk, on the other hand, literally dumps pedestrians onto the on-ramp to I-84 on the Hartford side of the bridge. There’s a narrow sidewalk that connects to the northeast corner of the downtown district, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

In contrast to the serene reflections and graceful light and shadows found in Riverside Park, Great River Park was a mess. A fast moving river, the noise of traffic and somewhat dirty floodwater greeted us as we tried to get close enough for some interesting photos. My daughter had good timing with her invitation to photograph the river from its flooded parks. The day before, the parking lot at Great River Park was closed, but not yet flooded. Two days later, on my way to work, the parking lot was dry and full of debris.

I hope you enjoy the images in the gallery. Below that is a short video gives you a good idea how fast the water was moving.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
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51 Responses to Great River – Great Park

  1. Applause to those who set aside parks for all of us to enjoy. Lovely shots but even better is that you and your daughter get to share photography and blogging hobbies. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Judy. Given the scenic value of any kind of waterfront property, I cherish the waterfront parks and trails in the Hartford area, as well as in my hometown of Pittsburgh. It took a lot of work and, literally decades, to establish these parks.

      Like

  2. Mark Thompson says:

    Thanks Dan, good read

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joey says:

    That photo with the lamppost in front of the support piers? Fabulous shot.
    I am not as interactive with our White River/Fall Creek, but it’s much a part of my environment, and an element I enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks! I discovered the easy-off easy-on nature of this park one day when an accident forced me off the highway. It’s a very nice diversion on the way to work. Since I’m usually very early, stopping here is a pretty easy choice to make.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It really does look like a great park. Thanks for all the different views. Have a marvelous Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Paul says:

    You’re right, Dan. There IS something particularly satisfying about being by a river, no question. Almost any body of water, in fact. I’m grateful to live near a large bay and within a couple hours’ drive of the ocean. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Paul. I seemed to have cross wired this comment with the one above it. I hope this lands in the right spot. Sometimes we need those bodies of water to absorb our frustrations or fears or whatever. I’m glad I have it close by too.

      Like

  6. Wendy Brydge says:

    I’ll bet this area is even more beautiful in the fall when the trees are loaded with colourful leaves!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad you made the effort, Dan, both for you and for me. You could always send some of that extra water to California. :-)

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jan says:

    Oh boy – well at least it looks like the sun is out! My cousin in MA says he can’t remember a year during which they’ve had so little snow.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Um I have no idea how to use a gray card either just to make you feel better, Dan. LOL I really enjoyed viewing the pictures and was in awe of how high the waters rose. It looks kind of cold there as well because Faith is wearing some kind of face mask. Hmmmm …. Or was that to hide her real identity? *giggle* So glad you have your daughter to share photography with. Lucky you! Great shots, my friend! <3

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Terrific photos Dan. I was hoping you could explain the scale card and ten I could use one to help my shots. Ah well the post was interesting. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  11. joannesisco says:

    I’m still totally amazed at the flooding. The photo with the street lamps in the water pretty well says it all.

    I would agree your statement “there’s something about a river” – no matter how big or small.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such beautiful place. Serene. Thanks for the photos and detailed info. Glad to know places like this exist and are preserved. We need more and more open spaces.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. bikerchick57 says:

    I love the image of Founder’s Bridge. Great composition! I’m wondering, though, if the parks look a little snowier today. Didn’t you get a few inches?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great photos! But oh so cold it must have been taking them, Dan! :) <3

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great views! That river is moving fast. I’m always amazed at how powerful water can be.
    We have a river well it’s more like a creek at the moment, but we I don’t think we have a nice river view or waterfront anywhere. You’re very lucky to have such a great river with nice parks and a nice city skyline behind it.

    I drive to the coast which is 30 minutes south or 50 minutes north.

    I laughed when I saw and read your text on the photo with Faith and her gray card. I know what she does with it! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Deborah. I figured you would know. I asked her to explain. I think her set also has the relevant laws that photographers should be aware of, printed on the back of them.

      The fast moving river is a very real hazard, and one reason we always go together. It only takes a few inches of water pushing up against you for you to be in serious trouble, especially with all the debris.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Beautiful photos and good read, Dan. Thank you for sharing with us. I played your video clip; I enjoy the sound of moving water. Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The blue in your photos just pops off the page. I enjoyed your pictures, Dan. Nothing better than a park with so much to offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. AmyRose🌹 says:

    I have a “feeling” you have been overdoing, Dan. PLEASE take things slow. That fever is a butt kicker! How long ago did I have it and I still have yet to gain my weight back. Slow and easy, friend!! (((HUGS))) Amy <3

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      These were taken weeks before I got sick Amy, but thanks. One of the reasons it took so long to do this post was that I had to sort through a ton of photos and I didn’t have the energy to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. reocochran says:

    Dan, I liked Faith standing on the bench, the golden yellow hues on the arches of the bridge and the amazing fluidity, rushing and terrifying water. It is a little scary to me, knowing that if you fell in it is very cold and not easy to catch on to anything. I realize you and Faith were cautious and didn’t have any trouble, but the big sister in me (Mom, Nana, friend. . .) had to express a little concern here. I am so happy you posted these extra photographs! Beautiful presentation and montage of effects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Robin. We always travel in pairs and we never both take the same risk (and the risks we take are small). The water under that bench was cold, but probably only 6″ deep and the bottom was solid. I get nervous when she gets near the edge of moving water. She’s careful, but I think it helps to have someone saying “that’s close enough.”

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Peter Nena says:

    You make that CT River look great. There were rivers like that over here a long time ago. But then, they started shrinking and went on to become worthless streams. And the water turned brown and green. Like goo. Ugly.
    Anyway, more excellent photos. The Founders Bridge gives a clearer picture of the flood. It’s deep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      50 years ago, Peter, the CT River was, literally, a cess pool. The Clean Water Act, passed in the 60s started the process of cleaning the water by ending the practice of thoughtless pollution. It’s taken a very long time, and a lot of money and work to get fish to return and clean water to flow. They’ve broken dams, lowered reservoirs, and installed sewage treatment plants in every town. There is still a lot of work to be done.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Dan Hen says:

    Beautiful place ! Yes, something about a river is good for the soul .

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Loved it. I got to see Hartford in a video, so happy. Few days ago, I saw this movie called Concussion, I am sure you must have heard of it. A lot in it is about NFL and I believe I saw many shots of Pittsburgh in it. Can you recommend any movie shot in Connecticut especially Hartford, so I can see more of Hartford?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Psychic Nest says:

    This park is really great and the photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing this!

    Zaria

    Liked by 1 person

  24. JEN says:

    I have fond memories of flooded rivers, having grown up in flood plains. Beautiful to look at, but not so good for driving through, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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