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From its origins as a Connecticut River trading post in 1633, Hartford has become not only the state capital but also the insurance capital of the world, with a slew of historical attractions, a thriving arts and entertainment centre, a revitalised riverfront and beautiful parks and public gardens. It was here that the lovable Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were born in the imagination of celebrated author Mark Twain and immortalised on paper during the writer's Hartford years. Twain's home and those of fellow literary figures Harriet Beecher Stowe and Noah Webster are open to the public. The Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum in the USA, houses Pilgrim-Century furniture, the Amistad collection and a special treasure-hunt system to entice children to explore the museum. If your timing is right (end of June, beginning of July), you'll catch the Elizabeth Park rose gardens in bloom, but autumn is also a great time to see brilliant leaf colours, and spring yields colourful gardens and blossoming trees. For a bird's-eye view of the city, visit the observation deck of Travellers Tower, where you might also spot two resident falcons.