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Ætna Insvrance: 1907

Ætna Insvrance: 1907

1907. "Aetna Insurance Co., Hartford, Connecticut." A phantasmagoria of phantom footfalls and paranormal pedestrians. Plus hot popcorn! 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.


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Ætna Lunch Wagon

Ætna is lucky to have a lunch wagon, albeit a peanut vendor. Today you would have maybe three or four food trucks outside.

Don't like it? Just wait.

In 1913-14, they added four stories to the original building and flattened the roof. In fact, they flattened everything.

What does the "5"

on the popcorn wagon stand for? If it's cents that would be very expensive popcorn.

[The price is per bag, not per kernel. 5 cents was around one-third the price of a cheap lunch. - Dave]

The Great Peanut Heist

A very spooky picture indeed. I suspect the ruffians in the alley are waiting for the right moment, like when not being photographed, to knock the peanut vendor senseless and make off with his nuts.

A site for eyesores

By itself, a safe distance from the hyper-busy, absurdly pretentious, relentlessly tacky original Aetna building, the newer edifice would've come off as comparatively tasteful. Located next to the original structure, it's a hapless case.

In this photo, the peanuts wagon distinguishes itself with a clean, simple and purposeful design. Aetna's powers that be would've done better to consult with whoever designed and built the little wagon in choosing a headquarters design.

I'll take the Beaux Arts on the left

The building on the left was designed by Benjamin W. Morris. He had nice credentials -- studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, went to work for Carrère and Hastings in New York before starting his own practice. The popcorn vendor might just be trying to lure the two boys on bicycles over to spend their coin; but he might also be admiring a very nicely designed building.

And speaking of nice -- "A phantasmagoria of phantom footfalls and paranormal pedestrians." Dave, at which do you excel more, scrabble or crossword puzzles?

Still there! Wadsworth Atheneum

Museum of Art


The location shown is now the corner of Main Street and Atheneum Square North. It used to be Gold Street. The Wadsworth Atheneum museum is the castle tower facade to the right. That location is now the Travelers Insurance Companies' main building in downtown Hartford. Travelers & Aetna have multiple locations in and around Hartford.

Pop Goes the Vendor

The popcorn vendor has clearly left his post to cash in on his side hustle... architectural photography.

(Bet you've had the ASCII code for that Æ diphthong scrawled on a post-it for just such an occasion.)

[No ACSII needed! Do you not see Mr. Vendor right there next to his wagon? - Dave]

Slouching on the front side ... of course! Our swarthy friend was avoiding the photographer, I'll bet. Did they even have the Witness Protection Program then?

Re: Hot Popcorn

And More!!

My Italian grandfather pushed a Hot Roasted Chestnuts cart in NYC, fresh off Ellis Island around the turn of the century, before settling in northern California.

Third time ... Colonial

Aetna worked their way thru a number of different styles over the years before turning to what -- for New England, at least -- might be said to be a cliche

(Note: the current HQ was built on a different site, so, for once, progress didn't require demo'ing the past, though it ended up happening anyway)

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