At the start of the 1900s, as the automobile was advancing both technology-wise and affordability, city streets were becoming a mix of trolleys, horse and carriages, automobiles, and bicycles. In Hartford, waiting for the trolley meant standing in the middle of State House Square amongst all this commotion. The idea was raised in 1910 to provide an "aisle of safety" with iron posts and ropes, by 1912 some temporary posts and ropes were placed by the city. The local press celebrated the new "Isle of Safety" allowing the public to wait for trolleys out of the danger of traffic.
The following year, the artist Charles Noel Flagg waited for a trolley behind the posts and ropes and came up with a an idea for a proper waiting station. Writing to the city, he proposed an elevated platform to eliminate having the public standing in puddles or slush and to clearly define the area. Surprisingly, the City of Hartford responded with plans for a raised platform with a roof. The new Isle of Safety was completed by December 1913 for a cost $2,681.
The Isle of Safety served tens of thousands of passengers that traveled by trolley and then by the buses that replaced them. It was nearly lost in 1976 when State House Square was paved over, but was rescued by the Knox Foundation and moved to a temporary location. Several attempts to relocate it back to the area of the state house proved unsuccessful. With calls for its preservation, the Knox Foundation moved the Isle of Safety to the Trolley Museum in 1988.
Today, like it was intended, the Isle of Safety provides protection for visitors waiting to ride a vintage trolley down the Trolley Museum's demonstration railway.
We are thankful for the financial and in-kind contributions from the following individuals and organizations to allow for the complete restoration of the Isle of Safety in 2019. Their assistance and support preserves this landmark for future generations to enjoy.
Gina Maria Alimberti
Alpha Delta Kappa, Gamma Chapter
Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence J. Bryan
Michael & Naomi Cohen
Connecticut Lighting Centers
Stanley & Barbara Duro
Sara & Michael Garthwait
Leonardo, Natalie, Ava and Giovanni Giadone
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Budd Family Fund
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Donor Advised Fund #38
Russell & Barbara Jones
Tim Lesniak & Christine Ricci
Mr. & Mrs. James Lewis
Lawrence J. Lunden Foundation
William J. McGurk
William & Alice Mortensen Foundation
Mr. & Mrs. Roy C. Normen, in memory of William & Grace Wood
Wallace R. Pierson IV in memory of Barbara Phelps
Pirie Associates, Architects
Ramco Environmental, Inc.
John J. Riordan
Peter & Rita Rozantes
Bill Searle & Donna Jones-Searle
Eugene A. Sheehan III
Mr. & Mrs. Nelson A. Sly, Jr.
Michael P. Speciale
State Market Hartford LLC
Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations
John & Maryellen Turgeon
USA Hauling & Recycling
Sally Whipple & Bill Kelley
Windsor Locks Historical Society
David Wojcik, in honor of Dennis McLaughlin of the Connecticut Society of Ferroequinologists & Model Railroad Engineers