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Parkview Hilton, a Downtown Hartford Landmark, Demolished

October 28, 1990

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The Parkview Hilton, a modern-style glass-walled hotel that was just 36 years old, was demolished Sunday after its owners were unable to find a buyer for the vacant building.

A festive crowd estimated at 10,000 watched the explosion from Bushnell Park, a sloping green that stands between the hotel and the state Capitol and gave the hotel its name.

The 16-story building was imploded - exploded from within so that it would fall on itself - by demolition workers who used 60 pounds of carefully placed dynamite. The first blasts rang out at about 7:30 a.m., and the building was gone within seconds, bringing a rowdy cheer from the crowd.

The Parkview had been vacant since Dec. 31 when it closed its doors, a victim of the sagging demand for hotel space in Hartford. The owners of the building, Chase Enterprises, could not find a buyer for the property, and decided to destroy it to make way for something new.

The demolition was the second this year in downtown Hartford, where the booming economy of the mid-1980s has given way to a deep economic slump that has halted development.

There are no firm plans to develop the Hilton site, but it is one of several Hartford sites under consideration for the new corporate headquarters of United Technologies Corp.

″You hate to see something like that go down. It’s still a fine building,″ said Helmut Garbemann, a retired construction worker from Newington who watched the building fall. ″It’s a shame. It’s too bad the city is dying out like this.″

But most in the crowd seemed drawn by curiosity rather than nostalgia, and the mood was similar to those watching a fireworks display. Scores of people recorded the event on video cameras, waiting patiently in 34-degree weather.

″I’ve always watched on TV, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one of these up close,″ said Edward Danoff of West Springfield, Mass., who took his three grandchildren on the 30-mile trip to Hartford to watch the event.

The hotel, built in 1954, was one of Hartford’s first modern-looking skyscrapers. Although it was supported inside by concrete pillars, it appeared all steel and glass from the outside.

It had been a Hilton hotel since 1966 when the chain assumed full ownership; after Hilton sold the building in the mid-1970s, the hotel retained the name.

James Manafort, president of Manafort Brothers Inc., the company that destroyed the building, said it collapsed just as planned, with no complications.

″We’ve very pleased,″ he said. ″It was a 100 percent shot.″

The same company demolished the Hartford-Aetna Building on April 1. That building was destroyed to make room for new development, despite the objections of local preservationists, who said it was one of the city’s oldest skyscrapers.

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