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February 17, 2023

Hey there!

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the HartfordHistory.net newsletter. Like the website, it focuses on the history of Connecticut's capital city. Expect new issues every week (or so). In addition to rounding up links to the various news articles, event announcements, and so forth that appear in the site's social media feeds, there will be exclusive items, like original articles, photos, and--they're back, baby!--trivia questions.

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If you've got a suggestion for an item, send it to [email protected].

Off we go, then...

Trivia question

What connection does actor Mark Harmon (“NCIS,” “St. Elsewhere”) have to Hartford?

Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter for the answer.

A trail blazed by Hartford's black heroes

With Black History Month as a backdrop, the city has designated a 4-mile stretch of Main Street the Hartford Black Heroes Trail. It begins at City Hall and takes visitors past 19 signs, each telling the story of a different Black man or woman whose achievements deserve celebrating in Hartford history. The advocate behind the project, Bridgitte Prince, told Connecticut Public Radio in a recent interview: “I want people to connect with it, by just looking at it and saying, ‘Wow, I did not know this is Hartford.’”

Hartford map detail

What I-84, I-91 did to Hartford, revisited

With the state close to releasing the results of a study on what Greater Hartford residents see as the region’s transportation needs, Hearst Connecticut Media has taken a long look at how the placement of interstates 84 and 91 divided and scarred Hartford. I-84 in particular cut the North End off from the rest of the city, exacerbating racial and economic divisions.

Elected officials and planning experts hope the Greater Hartford Mobility Study will lead to projects that not only help people get around better, but help knit the city back together. Kudos to reporter Emily DiSalvo and her colleagues for the kind of deep dive this topic deserves.


Norman Bailey, a New England Basketball Hall of Famer from Hartford, died January 28 at age 61. As a child, he played on the courts of Keney Park, according to the Hartford Courant. At Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, he became an all-stater. Next came playing for the University of Connecticut under coach Don Perno, in the newly formed Big East Conference. After graduation, he played professionally in Europe.

Daniel A. Camilliere, a World War II veteran who co-founded Franklin Avenue's Rialto Pharmacy and then embarked on a political career that included service as a city councilman, state lawmaker, and finally chief of the state Department of Consumer Protection's Drug Division, died January 17 at age 100. “What drove Dan to politics,” his obituary said, “was the desire to help people. He loved the art of negotiation and was up for the challenge to compromise. Dan saw the good in people and wanted to represent those who did not have a voice, or not as loud of a voice as his!”

Anthony Griffin, a one-time drug dealer who turned his life around by becoming a successful clothing entrepreneur and immersing himself in community service, died on December 21, 2022, at age 61. For more than three decades, he operated Anthony’s Fashion store, a popular retail and design shop. In 1995, he launched the successful clothing maker Heaven or Hell. He explained the choice of name for the latter business this way, according to the Hartford Courant: “Although we have choices, we must make the right choices.”

Trivia question answer

Mark Harmon’s mother, actress and artist Elyse Knox, was a Hartford girl. Born Elsie M. Kornbrath, she graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1936, then moved to New York City, where she studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion. On November 14, 1939, the Hartford Courant reported on its front page that Kornbrath, now going by Elyse Knox, had signed a contract with Hollywood movie studio Twentieth Century Fox. Through the 1940s, she appeared mostly in low-budget “B” films but worked with such stars as Roy Rogers, Lon Chaney Jr., and Abbott and Costello, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1944, she married Heisman Trophy winner and future sportscaster Tom Harmon. She died in 2012 at age 94.

More trivia questions at HartfordHistory.net