Wednesday, October 19, 2005

So Long, YMCA Building--Again

The Hartford YMCA building at the corner of Jewell and Pearl Streets, overlooking Bushnell Park, will be torn down and replaced by what the Hartford Courant describes as "the largest downtown residential development in years," containing 200 upscale condominiums and 100 apartments. The Y plans to move its health facilities and headquarters to the Hartford 21 building at the Civic Center--another Northland development. Its remaining programs and services will move to new facilities in the city's north and south ends.

There will be no relocation, however, for the 145 residential rooms at the downtown Y. Early in its history, when Hartford was a factory city, the Y provided temporary housing to young men who came to town in search of manufacturing jobs. But times have changed. As Tom Reynolds, the Y's vice president for development services, told the Courant: "We now work primarily with children and families."

This won't be the first time a downtown YMCA has been razed. To make way for the current building, the Y's original headquarters--an imposing Victorian-style building--was razed in early 1970s, despite intense opposition from residents. That episode is often referred to as the genesis of the preservation movement in Hartford.

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