By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
MetroHartford Alliance Digital Marketing Manager Amy Albert enjoys Hartford for the city’s diversity, beauty, and endless new things to experience.
AMY ALBERT: I initially started working in Hartford 15 years ago at Hartford Public High School. While teaching Social Studies, I was using primary sources about the Connecticut flood and asked the students what they thought of the Connecticut River. Some didn’t even know what I was talking about, so I took them to the highest place accessible (the observation room at the top of The Hartford) to give them a better sense of Hartford’s geography. Many didn’t realize how close the river was, how big it is, or how it’s connected to Hartford’s history.
Since then, I’ve thought a lot about how Hartford has what many cities would love to have: natural beauty, a political capitol, a world-renowned insurance and finance industry, and the status of a nexus of connection for the diverse people who come throughout the state to work in Hartford. The diversity of people who live here— my students came from all throughout the West Indies and Puerto Rico—leads to so many possibilities for the spontaneous and new.
What impact do you hope to make in the Hartford Region through the MHA?
AMY: The impact I hope to have is to help shape and create the future of Hartford. The Land of Steady Habits is sometimes slow to embrace change, but my perspective is, “Tradition is the transmission of fire, not the worshipping of ashes.” I think about how the innovations of the past can inspire new innovators and how we can open our minds and hearts to the future—and future generations.
How have you become a part of Hartford and how has Hartford become a part of who you are?
AMY: I’ll never forget watching the students I brought to the observation freak out about the view. I hope they’ll remember that forever. Or taking interns through the State Capitol and watching their jaws drop at the incredible beautify of the public spaces, then showing them behind the scenes of those formal places, and introducing them to elected officials, and seeing their excitement and pride.
Hartford has become a part of who I am because in my life I’ve needed resilience to get through difficult moments. And, now Hartford is facing a challenge, with COVID-19 shutting everything down. I want to help Hartford recreate itself for this “new normal” and become even better, as I’ve had to do and, I suppose, we all will need to do in the months ahead.
What makes Hartford unique?
AMY: All the little off the beaten path nooks and crannies. I’ve always been interested in the history of Hartford, and I like exploring what isn’t on the surface. We held my daughter’s 5th birthday at the Bushnell Park Carousel because it is beautiful and eternal. I knew that the carousel at a mall wouldn’t hold the same charm as a carousel in the shadow of the State Capitol, in a park that had been there for 100+ years and would be there 100 more.
I am constantly searching for the new and unique – by planning day-long touristy excursions as if we were on vacation. One day the summer before last, we began at the Wadsworth Atheneum, enjoying world-famous, beautiful art.
We then walked behind the museum, through Phoenix Plaza with its modern urban landscaping of sustainable rooftop grasses, and on to Mortenson Riverfront Plaza, where we watched as the food festival and Comic-Con folks blended together in a huge swirl of sights, sounds, and smells. It was amazing. Then we walked next door to On20 for modern cuisine and a great view of the fireworks show over the Connecticut River. It was a day you could have had in any European capitol and it was all 30 minutes from home.
How do you tell the story of Hartford?
AMY: I seek out new experiences with my family and then share them in my work. Being a California transplant, I am always looking for the pockets of places folks might walk past a hundred times but haven’t looked at recently. You can pass by a place a thousand times and kind of forget it is there, but if you stop to take a closer look you see amazing details.
My husband, a native Nutmegger, needs reminding about the novelty of the area in a way I think can only come from someone who didn’t grow up here. So, we explore the public spaces, most recently Elizabeth Park. We found the Rock Garden, which was a quiet shaded space off to the side of the Rose Gardens, and found a little solitude in the quieter part of the park.
I tell the story of Hartford through my perspective of curiosity—Hartford has many, many layers and I’m curious to explore and share them all.