Manchester is a large town or small city directly to the east of East Hartford, which was founded on the site because of the many streams flowing through the area it occupies on their way down to the Connecticut River. Today, the availability of natural running water is not as crucial to human activities, but in the days when Manchester was founded, manufacturing depended on water power to move its machinery. Manchester today is a lightly rolling area, with many of the old streams and brooks still flowing, fields, patchy woodlands, and ponds, much like other towns in this region of Connecticut.
Manchester is densely developed, with a gridwork of streets lined by suburban houses and a central business district of sorts in the areas surrounding the junction of Main Street and Center Street. The town is cradled between Routes 84 and 384, which loop around it to the north and south. The urban areas of East Hartford lie to its west, while woods, farmland, and a state park are found to the east.
Manchester is well served with schools of all grades, including three elementary schools – Waddell, Bowers, and Washington Schools – and several middle schools, including Illing Middle School and Cornerstone Christian School. An East Hartford magnet school offers an alternative middle school experience, in the form of Two Rivers Magnet Middle School.
The town has a large number of high schools as well, with Manchester High School leading a group that also comprises Howell Cheney Technical High School, East Catholic High School, and an East Hartford magnet school, Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy. The town also has a community college, Manchester Community College, which provides over three dozen two-year associate degrees. There are also shorter certificate programs in the same areas.
From the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, Manchester was the site of many “mills” due to readily available water power, including early factories which produced paper, cloth, and processed lumber. The huge silk factory founded by the Cheney clan in 1838 was one of the town’s largest businesses for many years, and many historic buildings associated with this era are preserved in the Cheney Brothers Historic District.
Today’s economy is based around professional occupations (which make up 24% of the local economic activity) and retail and services (41% of the activity). Farming, once the backbone of the region, now accounts for just 0.04% of the economic activity, considerably lower than the nation average. The “Shoppes at Buckland Hills”, a mall, are one of the hubs of local economic activity.
Located closer to Hartford, this town has a lower white population than many Connecticut towns, at 82.77%. African-Americans are the next largest group with 8.42%, and Asians are third at 3.15%. The median household income for the town is $61,593 annually, several thousand more than the national average. The unemployment rate is 8.2%, with higher future job growth forecast for the town than for the United States as a whole. 8% of the population is below the poverty line.
Married couples living together account for only about 43% of the 23,100 households in Manchester, Connecticut. About 28% of the households, roughly ¼, have children under 18 in them, though the median age is only 36.
Location within State
The town of Manchester is located directly to the east of East Hartford, and forms part of the extended urban area which occupies the center of the state of Connecticut. The jobs, amenities, and services of the state’s capital are very close by, while those seeking for a relief from urban life will find themselves within an easy drive of the northeastern and eastern countryside.
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