Getting around Connecticut Edit
Except for a few isolated areas in the north, Connecticut is well connected with major roads: I-95 is the main interstate, running from the heart of the Megaplex in New York to Rhode Island along the shore of the Long Island Sound. I-91 travels north from I-95 at New Haven, weaving its way along the Connecticut River to Vermont. However, in Connecticut, as with the other New England states, it's a shame to miss out on the few remaining tracts of quiet countryside scenery along the side roads, so it's worth getting off the interstates if you have the time. While the back roads can be poorly labeled, the distances involved are so small that you're not likely to run into major problems if you get lost.
All of the major east coast airlines fly to Bradley International Airport in Hartford, and Greyhound, Bonanza (LTG# 1860 [56-3815]) and Peter Pan Trailways (LTG# 1860 [37-8747] buses run to most of the main towns. Connecticut Transit buses (LTG# 1860 [25-9181] serve the inland area around Hartford. Metro North (LTG# 1860 [38-7646]) trains carry passengers between New Haven and New York City, with connecting services to numerous other towns; Amtrak, Inc. lines run between New York City and Boston with various stops along the shore and a connection to Hartford.
This small and densely populated state is a conservative, high-rent suburb of New York City, enabling commuters to earn Big Apple salaries while avoiding New York state and city taxes. Its first white settlers arrived in the 1630s: refugees from Massachusetts seeking liberty, good farmland and trading opportunities. Connecticut soon became a center for "Yankee ingenuity," prospering through the invention and marketing (often by the notorious and not always honorable Yankee peddlers) of many a useful little household object. Although hit very badly by English raids in the Revolutionary War, its role in providing the war effort with crucial supplies made it known as "the provisions state." After the war, the original charter of Connecticut's first colonists was used as a model for the American Constitution and gave rise to another nickname: "the Constitution state." It continued to prosper during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with steady industrialization and lucrative whaling along the southeastern coast. Today, much of the old industry, especially in the north, has withered away, leaving areas of green countryside, untroubled by noisy interstates, many verdant forests and the idyllic rural villages that typify New England's PR image – but also unemployment and poverty. New Haven (D) in particular, home to Yale University (AAA), is a very poor business district and faces distinctly urban problems like drug wars, homelessness and violent crime, which belie New England's myth of rural tranquility.
The linchpins of Connecticut's economy – insurance companies, medical research and military bases – hardly make for pleasing aesthetics, as demonstrated by the rather dull capital city, Hartford (C); and even the historic and other wise attractive coastline (B) is marred by some unfortunate stretches of sprawling gray concrete.
Central Connecticut (E)
Though central Connecticut is dominated by Hartford, the state's largest city is possibly one of the nation's dullest destinations, surrounded as it is by some of the most depressing slums in the UCAS. There's not a great deal of point in straying away from the coast, where New Haven is a whole lot more interesting.
Central Connecticut is teeming with dangerous and territorial urban paracritters, and is plagued by natural threats like massive swarms of disease-bearing insects. Life is constantly threatened here, and almost no one goes in for anything but extremely brief forays. Seems nature here is beginning to fight back.
Hartford (Security Rating C) Edit
The unattractive modern capital of Connecticut, on the Connecticut River, is also the insurance center of the United Canadian and American States. Beyond the insurance business core, little of Hartford's former wealth remains. Much of the city has devolved into large swaths of poor business and residential areas, with some very bad industrial areas. The few remaining bright spots: Its central gold-domed state capitol, surrounded by tall concrete barriers and razorwire, sitting on a hill in Bushnell Park, houses a small museum of Connecticut history; free tours of the capitol are available during the week (after advance appointment, security screening, and weapons check) from 0915 hours until 1315 hours (July and Aug until 1415 hours; April–Oct Sat 1015 hours–1415 hours). Marginally more thrilling is the antique merry-go-round in the park, which gives jangling rides for 50¢. The Museum of Connecticut History, across the road at 231 Capitol Ave, holds Colt rifles and revolvers and the desk at which Abraham Lincoln signed the paper that emancipated all slaves during the Civil War (Mon–Fri 0900 hours–1600 hours, Sat 1000 hours–1600 hours, Sun 1200 hours–1600 hours; free).
Hartford's pride and joy is the Greek revival Wadsworth Atheneum, 600 Main St, the nation's oldest continuously operating public art museum, holding some 45,000 pieces, among which are many fine and decorative arts, as well as Old Masters including Rubens' The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt and, in the French Impressionists collection, Renoir's Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil. Lectures and films are put on at the Atheneum Theater, and there's an excellent café, too (Tues–Sun 1100–1700 hours; 7 nuyen, free all day Thurs & before noon Sat). The Atheneum is guarded by powerful, old-world European magicks. They also outsource their security to Knight Errant.
About a kilometer west of downtown Hartford on Hwy-4, a hilltop community known as Nook Farm (A) was home in the 1880s to next-door neighbors Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Today their Victorian homes, furnished much as they were then, are open for tours (Twain house summer Mon–Sat 0930 hours–1600 hours, Sun 1200–1600 hours; rest of year Mon & Wed–Sat 0930–1600 hours, Sun 1200–1600 hours; 9 nuyen; Stowe house year-round Tues–Sat 0930–1600 hours, Sun 1200–1600 hours; open Mon June to mid-Oct and in Dec; 6.50 nuyen). Twain lived at 351 Farmington Ave from 1874 until 1891, writing many of his classic works including Huckleberry Finn, and he spent a fair portion of his publishing royalties building and redecorating this outrageously ornate home, with its unusual black-and-orange brickwork and luxurious Tiffany stained-glass interior.
Hartford, which lies at the junction of I-91 (north–south) and I-84 (east–west), is easily accessible by car. Greyhound, Peter Pan and Bonanza buses and Amtrak trains all pull into the terminal at Union Place (Security Rating of E). If you have to stay the night, there are budget motels along I-91, including the Super 16 at exit 33 (LTG# 3860 [46-8888] 50–75 nuyen); the Red Dome Inn (LTG# 7860 [24-0222]; 75–100 nuyen) is off the same exit. Hotels in Hartford itself cater mainly to business visitors, Insurance sararimen, and are correspondingly pricey, though it's possible to get a room for under 650 nuyen at the central Crowne Plaza Downtown, 50 Morgan St (LTG# 1860 [49-2400]; 500–650 nuyen). The YMCA, 160 Jewell St (LTG# 2860 [46-9622]; up to 35 nuyen), often has rooms with shared bath for 19 nuyen and with private bath for 24 nuyen, and the Mark Twain Hostel, 131 Tremont St (LTG# 8860 [23-7255]), charges 18 nuyen and is open year-round. The 1895 House B&B, 97 Girard Ave, off I-84 exit 46 (LTG# 8860 [32-0014]; 50–75 nuyen), has inexpensive rooms with shared bathrooms near the Twain House. A popular restaurant is The Cajun Troll, 350 Asylum St (LTG# 6860 [78-7427]), which serves hearty Cajun cooking with great selections of Cajun beer, plus live blues music Wednesday through Saturday. For tasty, inexpensive home-cooking check out Sammie's, 243 Zion St (LTG# 4860 [28-9822]), a popular hangout with local artists and musicians, feasting on classic American dishes; bring your own booze. For further information, visit Hartford's CVB, downtown at Civic Center Plaza (Mon–Fri 0900–1630 hours; LTG# 2860 [28-6789] (weapons subject to check at the door) or download a copy of the free local weekly, The Hartford Advocate.
New Haven (Security Rating D) Edit
Founded in 1638 by a group of wealthy Puritans from London on a large natural harbor at the mouth of the Quinnipiac River, developed a solid economy based on shipping and, later, industry. In 1716 it became the seat of Yale University, the third oldest college in the States, but it was hardware, firearms, gas and other types of manufacturing in the nineteenth century that really brought the city into its own. New Haven churned out Winchester rifles, musical instruments, tools, carriages and corsets, and Eli Whitney, inventor of the revolutionary cotton gin, discovered in his workshop here a method of mass production that eliminated expensive skilled labor. Today, however, little manufacturing remains in New Haven, and the city has struggled for decades to revitalize and redevelop.
The events of the quake of 2005, the Crash of 2029, and the Night of Rage have all but turned New Haven into the blight it is today. It has never really recovered and is home only to working poor Ork laborers, struggling squatters, and chipheads.
Then there's Yale, there the other half live. For, as destitute as everyone else is, those who can afford to live and work at Yale are that much more prosperous, seemingly living off the strained backs of the laborers. And did I mention 90% of the bluebloods here are Mafia or Yakuza owned and bought?
It's an uneasy place, half tension-ridden urban wasteland and half Ivy League idyll. Town-versus-gown conflicts are so marked as to give the city a crackling energy, and New Haven is certainly less WASPish and smug than many other Ivy League towns. Drug pushing, gang wars and homelessness notwithstanding, blacks and whites – and Italians, Irish and Asians – Metahumans and Humans - co-exist, uneasily. The city's ethnic diversity, and the undeniable vitality provided by the much-maligned Yalies, make it a stimulating place to spend some time.
Lone Star and Minuteman Security, Inc. provide law enforcement here, and they are fighting an uphill battle as well as each other.
New Haven has surprisingly few hotels for a city of its size; not even expensive ones for visiting Yalie parents. Maybe this is because of its total lack of security and sprawling slums surrounding the school, but who's counting? Mostly all these establishments are Mafia or Yakuza-owned, but you'd never know it because of how hard they obviously try to stay downhome and quaint. B&Bs from around 70 nuyen can be arranged in advance through Nutmeg Bed and Breakfast, LTG# 89860 (36-6698), West Hartford District of Hartford (Security Rating of D), CT 06127-1117. The downtown hotels, although slightly overpriced, are worth the security checks and the Mafia goon frisks for their convenient location and safety. Because of the shortage of rooms, be sure to book ahead if you're going to be visiting during graduation in late May. If you don't want to get hassled, make sure you've greased the right palms with copious amounts of nuyen.
Best Western Executive West Haven
Average Hotel Archetype (20 floors)/490 Saw Mill Road/Jamey Hilcher, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 2203(33-0344). Standard rooms not far from downtown New Haven at I-95 exit 42. Features indoor pool, experienced security personnel, and fitness center. 75–100 nuyen
Average Hotel Archetype (6 floors)/1157 Chapel Street/Bradford Driesenga, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 3203 (76-1234). Downtown luxury hotel as downtown luxury hotels go in New Haven, with wood furniture and modern amenities. 375–660 nuyen. The Yaks own Colony Inn, too.
Average Hotel Archetype (20 floors)/1151 Chapel Street/Deshawn Bassel, Manager/No racial Bias/LTG# 2203 (87-1273). Comfortable rooms in an old-fashioned hotel, a few steps away from Yale, with singles in the 200 nuyen range, doubles starting at 500 nuyen. 350-375 nuyen
Luxury Hotel Archetype (8 floors)/30 Whalley Avenue/Joseph Montfort, Manager/Bias Against Poor People, Non-Whites, and Orks and Trolls/LTG# 9203 (77-6221). Generic rooms in a good central Yale location. 375–500 nuyen.
New Haven Hotel
Average Hotel Archetype (30 floors)/229 George Street/Lon Hackford, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 5203 (98-3100). Central hotel with nice standard rooms and a health club. It's seen better days. 100–130 nuyen
You can't leave New Haven without trying the local pizza (known locally as tomato pies). Yes. You scanned this right. Pizza. Not that soy drek they mass-produce down in NYC. The New York Times discovered New Haven's pizzas 100 years ago, and since then queues have been forming down the street at all the family pizza restaurants in Wooster Square (Security rating AA ... gotta keep the cash cows from getting killed!). There are also plenty of reasonably priced and innovative restaurants around the Green, on College and Chapel streets (Security ratign A).
Atticus Bookstore Café
Large Restaurant Archetype/1082 Chapel Street, next to the Yale Center for British Art/Milo Boesel, owner/No Racial Bias/LTG# 5203 (76-4040). Salads, soups, sandwiches, brioches and good coffee, in a relaxed bookstore open until midnight.
Café Pika Tapas
Mid-Size Restaurant Archetype/39 High Street/Pablo Burghardt, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 4203 (65-1933). A bright, mural-filled place with diverse tapas and wines from Spain.
Claire's Corner Copia
Small Restauran and Fast Food Archetype/1000 Chapel Street/Claire Tako, Owner/No Racial Bias/LTG# 4203 (62-3888). Eclectic Mexican and Middle Eastern food, including vegetarian Elvish dishes, at moderate prices.
Frank Pepe's Pizzeria
Large Restaurant Archetype/157 Wooster Street/Arron Tullio, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 5203 (65-5762). Most popular of the Wooster St restaurants; plain, functional and friendly, with huge "combination pies" starting at 25 nuyen, baked in coal-fired ovens.
Large Restaurant Archetype/263 Crown Street/Simone Glinka, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 5203 (62-5507). Once a small, dark and ancient burger house that still claims to have served the first hamburger in the old US, and presents the meat between two slices of toast. Louis' has grown quite a bit, and now also serves as a soup kitchen to feed the homeless, too. Highly popular, but worth the inevitable wait.
Willoughby's Coffee & Tea
Small Restaurant Archetype/1006 Chapel Street/Osvaldo Peregoy, Manager/Bias Against Women/LTG# 5203 (89-8400). Self-consciously trendy gourmet coffee bar frequented by hip intellectual types and fashionable locals. Superb coffee from 5 nuyen, sticky cakes for slightly more. Three other locations around the Yale campus.
Mid-Size Restaurant Archetype/260 Elm Street/Alissa O'Tool, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 5203 (65-1074). Yalies' favorite coffee shop, with original Nineteen-Fifties fittings and shop sign, serving greasy spoon favorites such as burgers and cherry Cokes.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Despite it's squalor, New Haven has an undeniably rich cultural scene, and is especially strong on theater. Thanks to "Tony's Boys" and the other Mafia Made Men. The Yale Rep Company, 1120 Chapel Street (LTG# 5203 [32-1234]), which boasts among its eminent past members Rose Stravrou and Alissa O'Tool, turns out consistently good shows during the school year. The Long Wharf Theater (LTG# 6203 [87-4282]), 222 Sargent Drive, just off I-95, has a nationwide reputation for quality performances, as does the refurbished Schubert Performing Arts Center, 247 College St (LTG# 5203 [62-5666]).
One thing you must know about New Haven Night Life: if it's not run by the Mafia, it's run by the Yakuza. If neither the Mafia, nor the Yakuza run a venue, then the Triads, the Vory, or the Seoulpa Rings have it. That's how you can have such high-brow places like these in a place like this. And all of these crime syndicates hate each other, so syndicate wars are common. Bring your armor and your ammo.
Additionally, there are several good bars and clubs, concentrated on College and Chapel streets. The free biweekly paper Hip, available for download from the clothes shops along Chapel Street, has information on happenings in and around New Haven, while the New Haven Advocate, a free news and arts weekly, has more comprehensive listings.
Night Club and Bar Archetype/250 State Street/Theodore Ingvolostad, Owner/No Racial Bias/LTG# 5203 (89-8281). Decades-old intimate, yet divey club with live jazz Wed through Sun nights and open blues jams on a regular basis.
Night Club Archetype/806 State Street/Mao Spangle, Owner/No Racial Bias/LTG# 5203 (77-6670). An expansive lounge in an old Polish American Club offering live music and a huge patio that's packed in nice weather. Yakuza owned (but you'd never know it ... yeah, right!)
Night Club Archetype/300 York Street/Adelle Turzcak, Manager/No Racial Bias/LTG# 4203 (24-8623). Mid-sized nationally renowned live music venue, where the likes of Maria Mercurial and the Comfortably Numb "pop in" occasionally to play impromptu gigs. Tickets 10–25 nuyen.
Southeastern Connecticut (C) Edit
The much-visited southeastern coast of Connecticut spans 24 km from Stonington in the east to Niantic in the west, bisected by the Thames (pronounced Thaymz) River. Each of the handful of tiny, picturesque colonial communities (AA each) and old whaling villages along the Long Island Sound is a mere stone's throw from the next. No longer are they the iniquitous and rumbustious ports that so inspired Melville, but they're still keen to preserve a sense of their history. The restored nineteenth-century Mystic Seaport justifies at least a day's visit; nearby are the less lovely UCAS Naval submarine base at Groton (AAA) and the pretty fishing harbor of Stonington Borough (AA). Though these appear as towns and villages, they are more like interconnected suburban communities capitalizing on some old myth of rustic lure and charm. It's all biz, chummer.
Outside the towns and villages, SE CN is wild still, but the ecosystem is mostly balanced so creatures get what they need. You can hike around and enjoy nature, but take precautions with your scent, food and waste to avoid attention. Watch for poisonous animals and large carnivores. Wear bug spray and don’t drink the water untreated. Weather can be harsh at times.
Upper class business and suburban areas. Eleven kilometers west of Mystic Seaport, Groton is a suitably unpleasant name for the hometown of the hideous US Naval Submarine Base, headquarters for the North Atlantic fleet. The USS Nautilus, the country's first nuclear-powered submarine, was built in Groton. In 1958, four years after it was launched, it became the first vessel to sail under the polar icecap. It's now moored on the Thames, and self-guided tours allow access to its terrifyingly claustrophobic corridors, one-person-wide in many places. The sub looks pretty much as it did in the 1950s, complete with pin-ups of Marilyn Monroe. The Submarine Force Museum next door has exhibits on the history of submersibles from the minuscule American Turtle, built in 1775, to the frighteningly powerful Trident (mid-May through Oct Mon & Wed–Sun 0900–1700 hours, Tues 1300–1700 hours; Nov to mid-May Mon & Wed–Sun 0900–1600 hours; closed first full week of May and last full week of October; free; LTG# 6860 (94-3174).
Middle Class commercial areas. The old whaling port and shipbuilding center of Mystic, the purists will tell you, does not in fact exist; it is an area governed partly by Groton (AA) and partly by Stonington (C). Nonetheless, it does have a small, well-kept, and somewhat touristy downtown, lined with typical New England-quaint clapboard galleries and antique shops. The old bridge across the bustling Mystic River that divides it down the middle still opens hourly, and self-guided walking tours take in the many old houses built by well-off sea captains. The Olde Mistick Village, at the intersection of I-95 and US-27, is a pleasant enough outdoor mall with over sixty upmarket shops in colonial-style buildings. For a scenic walk or bike ride away from the tourists, take the 6 km river road, which is protected from cars and development and passes by Downes Marsh, a sanctuary for osprey.
What brings the tourists to Mystic is the impeccably reconstructed seventeen-acre waterfront village of Mystic Seaport, at the mouth of the river, where more than sixty weathered buildings house old-style workshops, stores and a printing press. Its Stillman Building exhibits exquisitely carved scrimshaw and a vast amount of products made from whales' wax-like spermaceti, as well as showing simsense of a bloody whale capture. There are demonstrations of shanty-singing, fish-splitting and sail-setting, among other salty pastimes, as well as storytelling and theater (both live and simsense), while in the shipyard you can watch the building, restoration and maintenance of wooden ships. The pièce de résistance is the restored Charles W Morgan, a three-masted wooden Yankee whaling ship built in 1841 (daily: summer 0900–1800 hours; rest of year 0900–1700 hours; u$85, late-afternoon arrivals are granted free entrance on the next day; LTG# 3297 [SE-APORT]). The last of its kind, the Morgan is a remnant of an age of exploration and arrogant expansion remembered now with a mixture of nostalgia and shame. Done up ready to embark on a hypothetical two-year voyage, the ship is filled with whaling memorabilia; below deck, accessible by perilously narrow stairs, the blubber room is crowded with huge iron try-pots for melting down the stinking blubber.
Over six thousand weird and wonderful normal and paranormal sea creatures glug about the Mystic Aquarium, at exit 90 off I-95. Of particular draw is the Mermaid tank where visitors can view these marine mammals in their natural habitats. Hourly shows at the Marine Theater (daily: summer 0900 hours–1800 hours; rest of year 0900–1800 hours; u$80) showcase porpoises and a beluga whale, and the explanations of the creatures' behavior make this a step up from standard aquarium fare. For those interested in the history of underwater exploration, there's the high-tech "Challenge of the Deep" exhibit, hosted by Dr Randell Clifton of the team that discovered the Awakening of the Titanic.
New London (Security Rating B) Edit
New London, opposite Groton on the west side of the Thames, is the closest thing the region has to a sprawl, although it spreads over only fifteen square kilometers. Originally settled in 1646, it was a wealthy whaling port in the nineteenth century and today is home to the UCAS Coast Guard Academy, 15 Mohegan Ave off I-95, where visitors can wander around a museum of coast guard history (Mon–Fri 0900–1630 hours, Sat 1000–1700 hours, Sun 1200–1700 hours; free) and visit the training tall ship USS Eagle (Fri–Sun 1300–1700 hours; LTG# 4860 [44-8595] to find out when the ship is in port). Overlooking the academy is the Lyman Allyn Art Museum (Tues–Sat 1000–1700 hours, Sun 1300–1700 hours; u$20; LUG# 5860 [43-2545]), part of Connecticut College at 625 Williams Street and specializing in American Impressionist works and local decorative arts. A self-guided walking tour of downtown passes along prosperous Huntington Street, where four adjacent Greek Revival mansions are known as Whale Oil Row. For swimming and sunbathing, the Ocean Beach Park, on Ocean Avenue, has a sand beach and huge saltwater pool, as well as a wooden boardwalk (summer daily 0900–0000 hours; u$10).
New London was the birthplace of boozy playwright Eugene O'Neill. His childhood home, the Monte Cristo Cottage, 325 Pequot Ave, is open for tours, complete with juicy details of his trauma-ridden early life – though they may already be familiar to you from his Long Day's Journey into Night (June–Aug Tues–Sat 1000–1700 hours, Sun 1300–1700 hours; tours Tues–Sat 1000 hours, noon, 1400 hours & 1600 hours, Sun 1330 hours and 1530 hours; u$25). The writer's influence is further felt at the O'Neill Memorial Theater Center, 305 Great Neck Rd (I-95 exit 82) in nearby Waterford, an acclaimed testing ground for playwrights and actors, where audiences can take pot luck and watch new, often experimental, shows in rehearsal (performances held sporadically May–Aug; LTG# 4860 [43-5378]).