Connecticut : Safety by City
- East Hartford
- New Haven
- New London
- Old Saybrook
- West Hartford
- Windsor Locks
It’s not easy being in East Hartford, Connecticut.
It’s right across the Connecticut River from the state capital of Hartford, sometimes ranked as one of the most dangerous in the state.
It fails in comparison rankings to West Hartford, which is listed as the best place to live in Connecticut.
As much as I, as an investigative journalist, question both of the other rankings, I can tell you that East Hartford is probably perfectly positioned in the middle of the best and worst cities in the state.
It’s just really average in a lot of ways.
There’s not “nothing” to do, but there’s also not a lot to do for tourists.
Its location couldn’t be better for those who want to explore bigger cities, as Boston and New York City are equal distances away in opposite directions.
It’s known as the “Crossroads of New England” and the highway interchange on the west side of town looks more like a Rorschach Test.
Downtown Main Street has a historic district, but it’s not an idyllic area with shops and dining lined along the streets as other Connecticut communities have.
The city has just four hotels, forcing tourists (and their money) into other parts of the metro area.
You are not unwelcome here, you are just not really entertained while you’re here.
The shining gem of East Hartford is the recently renamed Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler field where UCONN plays football, so game days are going to bring large crowds to this area.
Warnings & Dangers in East Hartford
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk here, but there are highs and lows in the crime numbers. In 2021, theft went up more than 40%. Crime rates overall hit a 5-year high. Yet violent crime is below the state and national average.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
CTtransit and CTrail are options in East Hartford. There are also Amtrak, Grayhound, and Peter Pan motorcoach services to bigger cities. Locally, you can get taxis and rideshares. Because of the rise in petty crimes, I'm going to call this a medium risk, and that's backed up by some recent crimes on the CT Transit busses near the Hartford area.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
By the numbers for the past few years, there's a low risk. Just one pickpocket was reported and the thief only got away with $1. My educated guess is that pickpocketing is low because there aren't large gathering places where it would be easy to pick a pocket. Thieves here would rather wait for you to leave your car unlocked and then have a field day.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
As far as big natural disasters go, there's a low risk. However, there is extreme weather here in the winter with a lot of snow and bitter cold. The warmer months can get thunderstorms. There's a low, but not zero, risk of tornadoes here. The state averages one per year and there are mostly smaller tornadoes when they do hit.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
In 2021, robbery thefts went down by 10 incidents in 2021, leaving just 27 cases. Outside of the downtown corridor, there's a low risk, but watch your back when you're downtown.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk only because of the large population center in and around East Hartford. The city itself isn't a target.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are a lot of scams in East Hartford, enough to warrant a Fraud Hotline, but there isn't a risk against tourists. That fraud hotline is (855)372-8345 in case you are approached by a scam artist.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk for women here just because of the increasing crime rates and thefts. There were also 34 rapes in the city, which is 42% above the national average. Women should try to stay on the east side of the city and avoid the downtown area at night if traveling alone.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The latest water quality report shows that The Metropolitan District (water utility) was in compliance with all requirements at the state and federal level.
Safest Places to Visit in East Hartford
The Great River Park downtown is a safe place to visit during the day.
There is a two-mile walking path among 35 acres of the riverside park.
You will also get amazing views of the Hartford skyline.
There is fishing and boating here as well.
Concerts are held here in the summer at the amphitheater and fall brings beautiful foliage color changes.
The East Coast Greenway goes from Maine to Florida, and part of it goes right through East Hartford.
It starts at the River Park Trail downtown, as do the trails along the Hockanum River.
Wickham Park on the other side of town boasts beautiful floral displays from just about every global region you can think of – Scottish, English, Irish, Oriental, and Italian.
You can get a guided tour or grab a map and explore on your own.
One of the benefits of visiting Connecticut is to hear about the history dating back to the 1600s.
Stop by the Historical Society of East Hartford where three well-preserved buildings are available for tours.
You can also learn more about the downtown historic district, so you’ll be safer than just driving around aimlessly.
Pratt & Whitney is a global name in aviation and it’s headquartered in East Hartford.
There is a museum where you can get an up-close look at the engines that power planes worldwide.
The pandemic caused the museum hours to shift around a lot, so check the hours before your visit to make sure you don’t miss this really cool attraction.
Places to Avoid in East Hartford
The closer you get to Manchester on the east, Glastonbury to the south, and South Windsor to the north, the safer you’ll be.
Crime maps show a large chunk of downtown and along I-84 are the highest crime areas.
There are a lot of car break-ins and car thefts in East Hartford.
What I’ll never understand is why people leave their cars running and unlocked with the keys inside.
That’s what East Hartford Police say is behind a recent rash of car break-ins in the early spring of 2022.
Yes, it’s cold outside in the winter and you want a warm car.
Do you know what’s worse than a cold car?
Standing in the cold with a police officer filing a break-in report and then having to get a broken window fixed on vacation.
You just need to avoid doing anything that will draw attention to your car.
I once went on a trip to an area of Florida that had a high break-in theft.
I made sure my rental car was an older mini-van model that was about the least interesting thing in any parking lot.
I always have a ” car bag” when I travel, so I can just throw everything I need in the car into the bag and carry it in and out with me.
I won’t even leave the charger plugged into the car because that has value for someone out there.
Safety Tips for Traveling to East Hartford
- The East Hartford Police are extraordinarily transparent about the crime rates today, last year, and the years went by. They layout in detail what’s happening in the community and you can review it all on their website. This will be helpful to see crime trends closer to your point of visit and not rely on sketchy internet articles trying to scare you into their clickbait.
- If you are unsure about which “Hartford” to stay in – consider a few things. One is determining which side of the river you’ll do the most activities. Crossing the three bridges that go over the river can leave you stuck in traffic, especially around rush hours. You should also know how reliant you’ll be on public transportation, as Hartford has Union Station with many forms of transportation meetings there. East Hartford just has bus stops.
- Throughout the city and especially downtown, you’ll have bicyclists sharing the road. Drivers should always yield to cyclists and leave at least three feet between a car and a bicycle. If you are on a bike, don’t pop in your earbuds and disconnect from the dangers around you. Keep one ear free to hear the environment.
- When visiting any state/local park or Connecticut attraction, don’t just ask for the cost of parking or admission. Make sure you ask about the non-resident rates, as Connecticut likes to up the prices for people who don’t live there. A park might be free for locals, but cost you $15 to park.
- Know the UCONN Huskies football schedule. Home games are going to leave the city packed with people and bring more traffic to the area. You might want to attend the game, which is great, but if you aren’t going to the game the traffic and noise might be annoying.
- East Hartford Police are part of the statewide initiative “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” to stop distracted driving on the roads. More than 5000 people were hurt in distracted driving crashes in 2020 throughout Connecticut. You can get fined $200 – $625 for texting while driving. Hands-free devices are allowed for drivers over 18. 16 and 17 year olds are banned from any mobile device interaction while driving.
- For anyone who plans on fishing or hunting in Connecticut, you’ll need a license from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. You can get that online before your visit and print it out or save it to your mobile device.
- Even if you are just visiting the park on the river, you need to be aware of the infestation of ticks in this state. Ticks can get embedded in your skin and you might not notice until they’ve sucked a lot of your blood and gotten really big. Do a full-body scan for ticks after every outdoor adventure. They particularly like the groin and armpit areas, so get really intimate with your search.
- When visiting Wickham Park, do not pick any of the flowers you see. They are all there for an aesthetically immersive experience and if everyone took “just one flower,” the attraction probably wouldn’t be worth visiting. Take all the Instagram pictures you want, but don’t take anything with you.
- You might read some really negative reviews about East Hartford when doing your research. One thing to note about locals reviewing Connecticut cities – they judge them in large part on how good the schools are. Connecticut cities are in an ongoing battle to have the best schools. That’s not going to impact your decision to visit there, so when someone says “This town is awful,” they might be a parent of three kids wishing they were in a better school district. Ask the right questions.
So... How Safe Is East Hartford Really?
Connecticut gets a reputation for being all rich communities with oak-tree-lined streets and happy families waving at each other.
Not every community is like that, and East Hartford is really nothing like that.
It’s a working-class city struggling to pay the bills.
14% of the city lives in poverty.
The opioid crisis has hit Connecticut as much as any other state, and both Hartford and East Hartford are lower-income, higher-poverty areas more prone to drug and gang violence.
Here are the chances of being a victim of crime in East Hartford:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 718 chance
- Rape: 1 in 1501 chance
- Robbery: 1 in 1379 chance
- Theft: 1 in 38 chance
Of the 71 violent crimes in 2020, 31 of them were against strangers.
That means we can’t just write off violent crime as something that happens between friends, significant others, families, and drug circles here.
Theft rates went from 886 incidents in 2020 to 1311 in 2021.
The largest category of thefts was shoplifting – something that won’t affect tourists.
Car break-ins and car accessory thefts.
If you could stay anywhere in the Hartford area, you should pick West Hartford.
It’s safer, has a higher income base, and has fewer people living in poverty.
There’s also a lot more to do there.
It’s staggering to see that within 10 miles the average income can go from $36,000 in Hartford to $105,000 in West Hartford.
East Hartford is again the middle child at $60,000.
How Does East Hartford Compare?
- Visas - There's no Visa processing required in East Hartford as you get that taken care of at the airport. You will need an ID to drink alcohol or check into a hotel, so keep it handy.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar will be accepted here and there are plenty of currency exchange options in Hartford. Make sure you are inside a building when you exchange currency and check for security cameras, as Hartford has a higher crime rate than East Hartford.
- Weather - Winter is going to mean packing all the winter clothing you can fit in the suitcase. You'll need insulated waterproof boots, thick coats, gloves, etc. There are a lot of outdoor activities here, so you can pack casually in the warmer months. This is not a place where people get dressed up day-to-day. You do have some nightlife here, so you can pack some nicer clothes if you want to go out on the town.
- Airports - Bradley International Airport is the closest option and it's in Windsor Locks, about 20 minutes north of East Hartford. New Haven's airport is about 45 minutes away.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance will make sure you can get your money back if weather or technical issues cause delays. Just make sure your insurance covers "Acts of God" or winter storms.
East Hartford Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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