The Charger Blog

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Publishes Book about Historic Hartford Neighborhood

Susan Campbell, a distinguished lecturer in communication who was a reporter for the Hartford Courant for 26 years, has published her third book, "Frog Hollow: Stories from an American Neighborhood," about an area she says in its heyday was a "manufacturing powerhouse."

March 4, 2019

By Dave Cranshaw Office of Marketing & Communications

Image of Susan Campbell
Susan Campbell, M.S.

Susan Campbell, a distinguished lecturer of communication, has never lived in the Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford, Conn. But she has spent a great deal of time there during her nearly three decades as a reporter for the Hartford Courant.

In between teaching, writing her regular column, and serving as the adviser for the Charger Bulletin student newspaper, she dedicated the last four years to researching the rich history of Frog Hollow to write "Frog Hollow: Stories from an American Neighborhood, her third book, which hit stores this week.

Called Hartford’s most New York style urban neighborhood, Frog Hollow was originally developed as three- and six-family buildings to house the immigrant population that worked in the factories that lined Capitol Avenue.

"If I could get in a time machine, I’d go back to the 1880s and stand on the corner and see all the bustling, factory workers all going to their jobs, see the news boys and girls, see all the businesses," Campbell told the Hartford Courant.

"I think it's important to examine the past to avoid repeating it."Susan Campbell, M.S.

"You can’t overstate what a manufacturing powerhouse this place was, electric cars, rifles, sewing machines, bicycles, workers making livable wages," she continued. "Then it all went away. Companies took tax credits to move elsewhere. A rabid focus on the bottom line had a terrible effect on neighborhoods like this."

The book tells stories about Frog Hollow from the 17th-century founding of the city to the present day. Campbell says she chose this neighborhood to chronicle because it reminds her of her hometown of Webb City, Mo.

Despite recent positive developments – described in the Courant article as "cool, newer" businesses such as the coffee shop Story & Soil, the restaurant Banh Mee, and the bar Little River Restoratives – the neighborhood, Campbell says, has seen better days.

Still, she see optimism, touting the areas diversity that lends a liveliness to the neighborhood, she says.

"I think it's important to examine the past to avoid repeating it," she says. "I'd like for this book to make people think – and rethink – what they think they know about immigration and its role in this country," she says.