Cities of New England
Located on Long Island Sound between New York and Rhode Island, New Haven and its environs offer a historic downtown and harbor, scenic beaches, and elegant town greens. Home of Yale University, the city offers a broad palette of cultural riches in the performing and visual arts. New Haven is home to three Tony award-winning regional theaters – the Long Wharf, the Yale Repertory Theatre and the Shubert Theater – where such classics as My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music premiered. The New Haven Jazz Festival is one of the country's largest outdoor festivals. The Yale Center for British Art houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom.
New Haven's selection of museums is enticing and quirky: the Eli Whitney Museum features lectures and workshops on machinery and technology; the Shoreline Trolley Museum presents 100 trolleys dating from 1903 to 1939; Yale University Art Gallery features 100,000 objects of art from ancient Egypt through the present day, including the works of Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Manet, Degas, Picasso, O'Keeffe, and Pollack.
Of historical interest is the Freedom Schooner Amistad, a replica of the slave ship that brought Africans from Sierra Leone in 1839. A memorial stands on the site of the old New Haven jail in which they were incarcerated while President John Quincy Adams argued their case in court. The schooner is available for tours and sailing.
Ever since Dutch traders began using the Connecticut River in the early 1600s to conduct business, Hartford has been abuzz with insurance and financial transactions. Companies such as Aetna, The Hartford Insurance Group, Phoenix, and St. Paul-Travelers have their roots here. Hartford is the home of such treasures as the Wadsworth Atheneum, as well as attractions like the Mark Twain House, the Hartford Stage, and the Bushnell Memorial.
People who love the classics of American literature can step back to the Gilded Age during tours of the 19-room, Tiffany-decorated mansion where Mark Twain worked from 1874 to 1891. During this period, Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Tours are offered and browsing is encouraged at the mansion and nearby Twain museum.
Wadsworth Atheneum, founded in 1842, is America's oldest public art museum, and it continues to grow. The castle-like exterior is being refurbished; the sculpture garden has been renovated; gallery space is being expanded; and new works are coming onboard. The permanent collection of 45,000 works of art includes many fine paintings from the Hudson River School.
Among the free attractions in Hartford are:
- Bushnell Park is home to more than 125 tree species. Thirty-minute tours of notable trees and arches are offered;
- Center Church and Ancient Burying Ground at Main and Gold Streets. The church features stained glass windows by Louis Tiffany;
- Elizabeth Park at Prospect and Asylum Avenues is home to more than 14,000 rose bushes representing 900 varieties of roses;
- Katharine Hepburn's grave site at Cedar Hill Cemetery is a draw for fans of the late actor, a native of Hartford;
- Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch on Trinity Street, a Gothic brownstone monument honors the 4,000 Hartford citizens who served in the Civil War.
Located near Mystic, midway between Boston and New York City, New London, perches on the shores of both the Thames River and Long Island Sound. The historic waterfront is best known as the home of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and America's Tall Ship the barque Eagle. Recent economic development includes Pfizer, Inc.'s Global Research and Development Headquarters.
The city's newly completed downtown waterfront park is the host to a variety of public celebrations with a common theme of the city's connection to seafaring. The park offers a half-mile promenade and five piers. Every July, the waterfront park hosts a three-day Sailfest, with free musical entertainment, tours, and sailing on three Tall Ships. One night of Sailfest offers a fireworks extravaganza produced by Grucci and sponsored by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
Ocean Beach Park, one of the loveliest beaches in the Northeast, is a half-mile of pristine sugar-sand beach. The boardwalk displays beautiful views of the Thames River and Long Island Sound. Water traffic includes an occasional submarine sighting thanks to the nearby Naval Submarine Base New London.
Historic sites abound. They include the two Hempstead Houses, dating from 1678 and 1759 and containing many reminders of the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad system. The Shaw Perkins Mansion served as Connecticut's naval office during the Revolutionary War. The mansion offer an unmatched collection of genealogy material, New London history, whaling history, manuscripts and artifacts, and a newspaper collection dating back to 1753. Custom House Maritime Museum is the oldest operating custom house in the nation. It's front door is constructed from wood originally used on "old ironsides," the U.S.S. Constitution.
Cultural attractions are rich and diverse. The Lyman Allyn Art Museum presents fine arts, American decorative arts, and Connecticut Impressionist paintings. The Garde Arts Center in downtown New London presents live theater including Broadway touring shows, dance, music and family theater from opera to Will Rogers reviews.
Providence is a special blend of three-and-a half centuries of American history living cheek-to-cheek with a sophisticated contemporary culture of performing arts, shopping, and fine dining. Federal Hill is the city's Little Italy, packed with good dining and Mediterranean ambiance. The East Side includes the largest contiguous area of National Historic Society buildings in America, including dozens of pristine houses of the Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian periods. benefit Street on the East Side passes the world-class Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design.
A downtown renaissance that got underway in the late 1980s uncovered the Woonasquatucket and Providence rivers that meander through the heart of Providence. The rivers are now bordered by the fabulous WaterPlace Park. During the warm-weather months, the rivers are the site of WaterFire, a series of 100 bonfires that blaze just above the surface of the three rivers that pass through the middle of downtown Providence. The string of fires illuminates nearly two-thirds of a mile of urban public spaces and parks, and residents and visitors gather to stroll along the river while listening to a memorable and eclectic selection of classical and world music.
The Tony-winning theater group Trinity Repertory Company is located in Providence, as is the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Providence is also the home of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium and the Providence Performing Arts Center, where many touring Broadway shows make their appearance during the year.
For nature in abundance, Roger Williams Park offers a zoo and the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium. In addition to the Providence Public Library and its nine branches, Providence is home to the Providence Athenaeum, which is one of the oldest lending libraries in the world. Edgar Allan Poe, a longtime Providence resident, was a regular fixture there. The Bank of America Skating Center, in the center of the downtown, offers ice-skating in the winter.
The Colonial New England city of Newport — nicknamed America's First Resort — is known by name all around the country and even the world as the home of fabulous mansions of the 19th-century Gilded Age and as a center of 12-meter yacht racing. Other charms of the city are beautiful Colonial-era dwellings packed cheek-to-cheek; the windswept drama of the Cliff Walk; Ocean Drive; great performances at legendary jazz, folk, and classical music festivals; international-caliber polo competitions; local wineries; and plenty of sailing. Museums touch on such diverse subjects as naval history, tennis, science, and, of course, early American history.
Surely one of the highlights for visitors to Newport is the mansions built by fabulously wealthy leaders of industry and society in the late 19th century. Some of the most popular are:
- The breakers. In 1893, Cornelius Vanderbilt II commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the breakers, a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo;
- Marble House, built between 1888 and 1892 for William K. Vanderbilt. Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society, and envisioned Marble House as her temple to the arts in America;
- The Elms. In 1898, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French Chateau d'Asnieres;
- Rosecliff, commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, was modeled by architect Stanford White after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments, including a party featuring magician Harry Houdini.
Twelve-meter yacht racing has a long history in Newport. Although Newport no longer holds the America's Cup, the city still boasts its legacy as the Sailing Capital of America. The United States Navy and Newport have been linked since the beginning of this nation. From the perspective of military historians, Newport, which now houses the Naval War College and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, holds a unique place in the history of the United States of America. The Naval War College Museum, located in Founders Hall, a National Historic Landmark, features exhibits on the history of naval warfare.
In 1877, Newport hosted the first polo games in the United States. Today, Olympic-level matches take place all summer on Saturday afternoons at Glen Farm in Portsmouth, a short drive up Aquidneck Island from Newport. Spectators sit on chairs and blankets enjoying picnic dinners and watching horses thunder, mallets collide, and turf fly.
Located 78 miles west of Boston off the Massachusetts Turnpike, Springfield began life as the crossroads of New England. Today Springfield enjoys a charming downtown, and it is skirted with fun and offbeat museums and other entertainments, including the Basketball Hall of Fame and a monument to native son Dr. Seuss.
Court Square Park is a gem in the heart of downtown. The beautiful green space compliments the Old First Church and the adjacent MassMutual Center, which hosts such entertainments at Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice, the Harlem Globetrotters and NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championships, Monster Trucks and circus performances.
The Basketball Hall of Fame collects and displays information on the history of basketball from its founding in 1891. Visitors can learn about barnstorming teams, the size of Bob Lanier's sneakers, John Havlicek's career scoring average, and the dimension of a regulation basketball court and more.
The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel, is now open at the Quadrangle. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art features three galleries, a studio, and a museum shop stocked with picture book favorites. Springfield Symphony Orchestra is housed at Classic Hall plays that also plays host to a variety of concerts, Broadway shows, lectures, and children's plays.
Springfield is also home to the Eastern States Exposition, popularly known as The Big E, an annual autumn agricultural fall of giant proportions — the ninth-largest in North America. The Big E features farming exhibits, parades, top-name entertainment, and permanent exhibit hall where each of the New England states demonstrate their finest crafts and traditions.
The Indian Motorcycle Museum honors the Hendee Company (renamed the Indian Motorcycle Company in 1923) as the first motorcycle manufacturer in the United States. Springfield also claims to host the World's Largest Pancake Breakfast every May. So save your appetite.
Worcester, the third-largest city in New England, is in central Massachusetts about 45 miles west of Boston. It is home to nine colleges and universities, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park, and CenTech Park. Since the late 1980s, biotechnological research has been important to the city's economy. The city is also home to the American Antiquarian Society, with a research library specializing in Americana and the Worcester Historical Museum, emphasizing the city's industrial achievements. Also of interest are the Higgins Armory, a museum of arms and armor, and Ecotarium: a Museum of Science and Nature. The annual Worcester Music Festival dates from 1858.
Worcester Art Museum offers magnificent artwork from five millennia of world cultures. Highlights include paintings by Cassatt, Gauguin, Goya, Monet, Sargent and Whistler; floor mosaics from the ancient city of Antioch; cutting-edge contemporary art; and many other treasures. The 2005/2006 season marks the 146th Worcester Music Festival, the oldest music festival in the United States. Since 1858 the Worcester County Music Association has been pre-eminent in presenting great performances by world-renowned artists. For instance, the 2005-2006 includes performances by the Munich Symphony Orchestra, Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and English Choral Treasures with the Worcester Choral.
The Higgins Armory Museum is the only museum in the Western Hemisphere entirely devoted to the study of arms and armor. Artifacts ranging from Corinthian helmets of ancient Greece to ornate suits of armor from the Renaissance offer a window to the past, while informative and entertaining programs help to interpret the collection in a broad cultural context. Ecotarium: a Museum of Science and Nature offers something unique: a treetop canopy walkway in which visitors are harnessed and clipped to a series of swinging bridges spanning 150 feet, 40 feet above the ground.
Boston, founded in 1630 and the capital of Massachusetts, is one of America's oldest and most legendary cities as well as the economic and cultural hub of New England. The city is located on a magnificent natural harbor at the mouth of the Charles River. Boston is home to some of the world's finest hospitals and many cultural and professional sports organizations. Boston and its adjacent suburbs are the location of world-class universities.
The Boston Public Library, founded in 1852, has one of the largest collections in the country, and several smaller libraries, like the Boston Athenaeum and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, offer specialized collections. The Museum of Fine Arts has collections of French impressionist paintings, as well as Egyptian, Chinese and Japanese art. The Boston Symphony Orchestra ranks as one of the most esteemed orchestras of the world. Boston is an active theater town with a half-dozen theaters in continuous use. Boston is experiencing a revival of opera with the opening of a newly refurbished opera house and has added a resident ballet company.
A must-see in Boston is the Freedom Trail, a three-mile walk that takes the visitor to 16 historical sites and covers two-and-a-half centuries of America's past. The starting point of the Freedom Trail is the Boston Common, one of the oldest public parks in the country. Locations on the trail include the State House, the black Heritage Trail, Park Street Church, the Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel, Old Corner Bookstore building, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, the U.S.S. Constitution, and Bunker Hill Monument.
Boston's attractions for the science-minded include the Museum of Science, with more than 400 exhibits featuring live animal and physical science demonstrations; the New England Aquarium, presenting 2,000 aquatic creatures and a four-story glass ocean tank; the Children's Museum, with world famous interactive exhibits; and the Boston beer Company-Samuel Adams Brewery and Boston Beer Museum, offering a brewery tour and historical "breweriana."
History is abundant at places like Bunker Hill Pavilion, where the Battle of Bunker Hill is recreated through sight, sound, and theatrical effects; Old South Meeting House, with a exhibit where the Boston Tea Party started; the Paul Revere House; the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum; and U.S.S. Constitution Museum in the Charlestown Navy Yard, where visitors can be a sailor aboard "Old Ironsides," fire a cannon, hoist a sail, swing in a hammock, navigate and turn a ship's wheel.
Art museums and galleries can fill a long list, topped by the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park; the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, with its notable collection of 19th century French Impressionist and medieval Italian paintings; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston's outpost of the avant-garde; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Art, a 15-century-style Italianate palace; the MIT Museum, where art and science meet; and the Museum of Fine Arts, with the second-largest art collection in the United States.
The outdoors in the finest urban setting can be enjoyed at the Bostor Garden Tours; the John Hancock Observatory and the Prudential Skywalk Observation Deck, both with bird's eye views of Boston and its metropolitan area.
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, Burlington has a culture that is a hip combination of Montréal to the north and Boston to the southeast. Burlington is a youthful, outward-looking university town. It's one of the few American cities to offer a café culture, with a downtown you can stroll around on foot, especially around the Church Street Marketplace.
Church Street Marketplace covers four blocks in the middle of the Queen City's historic downtown, which boasts a wide range of architectural styles, including Victorian and Art Deco. The marketplace has more than 100 retailers, from colorful street vendors to familiar upscale stores. In addition, visitors will find scores of great restaurants and bars.
Other popular stops for visitors include the Vermont Pub and Brewery, with its 14-barrel whole-grain cellar and pub tours; the Vermont Wildflower Farm, with six acres of flowers and a large flower-themed gift shop; Sand Bar State Park, a 2,000-foot sand beach with swimming, boating, and sailboard rentals and lessons; Magic Hat brewing Company, where ancient alchemy meets modern science to produce a fine-tasting beer; and the Heritage Winooski Mill Museum, with exhibits of mill machinery, a working waterpower model and exhibits examining Vermont's largest wool manufacturing center.
With prevailing winds averaging 10 knots and steady out of the north-northwest, Lake Champlain is a perfect spot for sailing or cruising, with a number of charter boat services operating in and near Burlington, the largest city on the lake.
Since Vermont's first inn opened, the state has become famous for the number, variety, and quality of its bed & breakfasts. Burlington boasts one of the biggest and best B&B collections. A number of B&Bs are within walking distance of Church Street Marketplace. Many in the region offer stunning views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks to the west.
Manchester is located in south-central New Hampshire along the Merrimack River, 20 miles from the Massachusetts border and 58 miles from Boston. Manchester's nickname is the "Queen City," meaning that is it the city with the largest population in the state but not the capital city of that state. The city is known for the historic Amoskeag Millyard, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The internationally renowned Currier Museum of Art is located in downtown Manchester and features European and American paintings by Picasso, Monet, O'Keeffe, and many other artists. And some of the biggest names in entertainment can be seen at the new 10,000-seat Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Currier Museum of Art also owns the Zimmerman House, the only residence in New England designed by the acclaimed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright designed the Zimmerman House in 1950, planning its gardens, its built-in and freestanding furniture, its textiles, and even the mailbox. The Zimmerman house offers a glimpse into the 1950s and 1960s, and the private lives of Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman, who lived in the home for 36 years. The house is open to the public.
The Manchester Historic Association's Millyard Museum is housed in Mill No. 3 at the corner of Commercial and Pleasant Streets. The museum features the permanent exhibit, "Woven in Time: 11,000 Years at Amoskeag Falls," that tells the story of Manchester and the people who have lived and worked there. The story starts with the Native Americans who fished at Amoskeag Falls centuries ago. It continues through the early farmers and craftsmen to the thousands of workers who made the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company the world's largest manufacturer of cotton textiles. The story concludes in the 21st century, as new businesses flourish in the Millyard and new groups of immigrants come to Manchester to live and work.
Portsmouth sits near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, which divides New Hampshire and Maine. John Paul Jones's ship The Ranger was built in Portsmouth, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established in 1800 as the country's first naval shipyard.
The region is noted for its many attractions and shopping opportunities, which include outlet malls in nearby North Hampton and in Kittery, Maine, as well as malls in Newington, New Hampshire. Hampton Beach, the most popular beach in the region, has been drawing visitors since the turn of the century.
Strawbery Banke Museum offers a multi-faceted visit into the world of the Puddle Dock neighborhood of Portsmouth over a period of 300 years. Each of nine furnished houses and period gardens illustrates a different era in American history. Strawbery Banke was named for the berries that settlers found on the banks of the Piscataqua River in the early 1600s.
Across from the museum, Prescott Park features extensive flower gardens, including large demonstration beds where many varieties of flowers are shown each summer. The park also is the site the popular Prescott Park Arts Festival, which presents a musical and dozens of musical and theatrical performances in July and August.
The Isles of Shoals, nine rocky isles six miles off the New Hampshire and Maine coast, were discovered by the Western world in 1614 and have served over the years as a base for fishermen, a haven for the occasional pirate, and a summer retreat for artists and the well to do. Excursion boat companies cruise to the shoals, usually accompanied by descriptions of the area's colorful history.
The Nubble Lighthouse, perched atop a rocky outcrop in York beach, Maine, stands 88 feet above sea level and began operating in 1879. Its red beacon can be seen from 13 nautical miles away. One of the most popular times to view the Nubble is when the town of York lights up the lighthouse and buildings for Christmas.
Redhook Brewing Company, one of America's largest craft brewers, established its third brewery in Portsmouth in 1996. The Portsmouth brewery is similar to its Seattle counterpart, with dramatic Bavarian roof lines and advanced brewing equipment. Redhook offers tours daily.
U.S.S. Albacore Museum and Park offers year-round guided tours of the most advanced U.S. Navy submarine built before the atomic submarines. built in Portsmouth, the U.S.S. Albacore served as the prototype for today's submarine fleet.
Concord, the state capital, was settled by immigrants from Massachusetts in 1725, and some of the city's earliest houses remain today at the north end of Main Street. The 1819 State House is the oldest state capitol in which the legislative branches meet in their original chambers.
One of the city's best-known industries was carriage manufacturing, and here world famous Concord coaches were built throughout the 19th century. Furniture making and granite quarrying were also major local industries. The granite for the library of Congress in Washington, D.C., came from nearby Rattlesnake Hill. The home of the nation's 14th president, Franklin Pierce, is open to the public. A few miles northeast of Concord, in Canterbury, members of the Shaker sect settled in the 1790s. Concord is the home of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, honoring the teacher who died in the Challenger space shuttle explosion. There is a 92-seat theater where visitors can take an unforgettable expedition through space as the domed screen overhead is filled with wraparound images and sound.
A good place to learn about Concord is the Museum of New Hampshire History. Four centuries of Granite State history are on display, from the Concord coach — the stagecoach of the American West — to l9th-century White Mountain paintings and rare examples of New Hampshire-made furniture. Canterbury Shaker Village offers visitors a close look at 200 years of the Shaker way of life at its 24 original buildings on a hilltop surrounded by fields, woodlots, and ponds. A guided tour describes the customs, inventions, and way of life of this utopian society. Visitors can watch crafts being made in the Shaker tradition and explore the Physician's Botanical Garden and three nature trails. The gift shop offers Shaker reproduction furniture, Shaker books and tapes, and local handcrafts.
To see life in a slightly faster lane, check out the New Hampshire International Speedway. It is the only super speedway in the New England area and is host to a diverse series of racing divisions that includes AMA motorcycle competition, CART IndyCar, NASCAR Nextel Cup, busch Series, plus several local and regional club events and vintage racing.
Portland, Maine's largest city and its financial and retail capital, perches on a peninsula jutting out into island-studded Casco Bay. Seascapes and city scene blend harmoniously in this lively city. Historic and modern architecture blend gracefully along the waterfront and in the Old Port section. The Old Port shopping district of Portland has been restored to its glory days of the 19th century with cobbled streets and Victorian brick buildings where visitors can explore a mix of restaurants, breweries, art galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops.
Portland Harbor, at the base of the Old Port, is a jumble of condos, fish markets, and ferry docks, and a departure point for cruises to Casco Bay islands and Nova Scotia. Dinner, sunset, or whale-watching cruises are popular. A block from Old Port is the Victoria Mansion, a superior example of Italianate architecture. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's childhood home, with original furniture, decorations, fixtures, and gardens, is nearby at 489 Congress Street. Also near Old Port is the Cumberland Civic Center, home to the Portland Pirates hockey team. Concerts also are presented at the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall.
To many people, Maine conjures up images of high, craggy coasts and serene lighthouses. Portland Head Light, located at Fort William Park, was built during the presidency of George Washington and is the most-photographed lighthouse in America. Within Fort William Park, people explore the fort's remains; walk along the cliffs; picnic on grassy hills; or fly kites. For a sea-based view of all this, visitors have a choice of cruises.
At the Children's Museum of Maine, young visitors can climb a mountain, walk into a bear's den, do the job of a crew member on a 40-foot schooner, operate a space shuttle, slide down a firehouse pole, use the computer lab, or tape an original television program. Art projects are hosted each day in the Zoom Room.
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum is a big draw for visitors. Railroad buffs can treat themselves to a 30-minute, three-mile ride along the shores of Casco bay in Portland's East End on a two-foot gauge train and tour a historic museum with cabooses, railroad cars, and other artifacts from the great old days of railroading.
Other attractions include the First Parish Church, built on site of 1740 "Old Jerusalem" wooden meeting house; Shipyard brewing Company, producing English style beer; and the Portland Museum of Art, with three centuries of art and architecture, including works by Picasso, Monet, Degas, Wyeth, and Homer.