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Hartford, CT (Population: 124,397)

Hartford is the capital of the state of Connecticut with a population of 124,397 as of the 2005 census estimate. Situated along the Connecticut River, the Hartford Metro area is the largest in the state. One of the early sites of the abolitionist movement, Hartford went on to elect the first African-American mayor in New England and the the first African-American female mayor in any major American city.

With companies such as The Hartford, CIGNA and Aetna calling Hartford home, it's no wonder that the city has earned itself the nickname of “the insurance capital of the world.” Other large corporations such as Colt Firearms and United Technologies are also based out of here. Hartford is also home to several institutes of higher education such as the Hartford Conservatory, the University of Connecticut School of Business, Trinity College and the University of Hartford.

Summer is a prime time for festivals in Hartford with many events occurring on the riverside. Riverfest, which celebrates the American Independence, has a fireworks show alongside other music and entertainment offerings. The Riverfront Plaza also hosts festival events such as the Mohegan Sun Streetfest and the Hip Hop festival, which is free to the public and features music with a positive message. The Wadsworth Atheneum of Art is the oldest public art museum in the United States. Another of the country's oldest is the rose garden in Elizabeth Park which sustains 800 varieties of the flower.