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November 18, 2014 · Collections ·

Connecticut artist Richard Welling chronicled the ever-changing Hartford cityscape through detailed ink drawings. Acting as both works of art and documentary snapshots, these drawings reveal the additions and subtractions to and from the city’s architectural skyline in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Our newest exhibit, (Re)Building Hartford: A City Captured by Richard Welling, showcases his drawings and explores how how and why Hartford changed and how it affects us today.

Detail of Ryan's Restaurant, Pearl Street, Hartford, drawn by Richard Welling, 1968, gift of the Richard Welling Family

Detail of Ryan’s Restaurant, Pearl Street, Hartford, drawn by Richard Welling, 1968, gift of the Richard Welling Family

Ryan's Restaurant, Pearl Street, Hartford, drawn by Richard Welling, 1968, gift of the Richard Welling Family

Ryan’s Restaurant, Pearl Street, Hartford, drawn by Richard Welling, 1968, gift of the Richard Welling Family

Yearly flooding and deferred maintenance left the aging buildings on Front and Windsor Streets in poor condition. Federal and state laws passed in the 1940s and 1950s allowed these areas to be designated as slums and cleared for redevelopment with the help of federal subsidies. Hundreds of families and dozens of businesses were moved out to make way for urban renewal projects in Hartford.

Asylum Street, Hartford, July, 1969, drawn by Richard Welling, gift of the Richard Welling Family

A parking lot is currently taking the space of these depicted block of buildings. Asylum Street, Hartford, July, 1969, drawn by Richard Welling, gift of the Richard Welling Family

Many residents rented their apartments and were not compensated for the removal, but were instead offered small sums of money ($100 or $200) to offset relocation costs. Some qualified for mortgages to buy single-family homes. Others, mostly African American residents, faced discrimination from mortgage lenders and were forced to move into other crowded areas of the city. Businesses also relocated to other parts of the city or surrounding towns.

State Street, Hartford, drawn by Richard Welling, 1970-1975, gift of the Richard Welling Family

State Street, Hartford, drawn by Richard Welling, 1970-1975, gift of the Richard Welling Family

Displacement happened again and again as new urban renewal projects in Hartford were approved throughout the city. From the 1960s to the 1980s, Richard Welling was forced to move his studio four times for redevelopment projects.

Interested in learning more about Hartford or Richard Welling? Visits chs.org/Hartford for more information about programs, exhibits, and events.

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