middletown ct - town was a nice surprise..

just visited this past weekend - had certain expectations of the town based on CC reviews of Wes and the town. Specifically, the word “gritty” has been a commonly used descriptor. Well, hubby and I were pleasantly surprised, if not downright shocked - this town is an absolute hidden gem imo.

The diversity of shops/restaurants, with walking paths along a scenic riverfront, creates more character and a more energetic vibe/character than most of the other NESCAC towns, notably Williamstown, which had an almost antiseptic feel on the 100 yard retail strip - which certainly may appeal to some, but not us. As residents of the Garden State, I would favorably compare Middletown most closely to Montclair (more affluent in general, but with a similar overall diversification socioeconomically) , and to a lesser extent parts of Summit / Ridgewood. You can get a nice steak in any of these towns, as well as authentic empanadas or Korean bulgogi.

As a real estate investor, my eye quickly notices the availability (or lack thereof) of retail/commercial space - and I didn’t notice one material empty space from the boutique hotel (on the south end), down to the diner at the north end of Main Street. Also, a good amt of construction going on, and not one fast food chain.

For those in the know, has this revitalization been recent?

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I am a current HS student in Middletown for the past 4 years. Middletown is a great large town in CT, especially in the downtown and down Washington street. Though the main areas around the Wesleyan campus are nice, farther up north is not as luxurious. I’ve spent plenty of time in the area and it’s really nice. The city has turned around from its past and is looking up from here but is nowhere close to finished.

Agree. And it’s nice that the town is very walkable from campus.

The town took a deep dive into urban renewal about thirty years ago and though it had its critics at the time, the results seem to have caught the zeitgeist. People from surrounding towns seem to appreciate the street ambience, having actual sidewalks to stroll instead of the constant climbing up and down of escalators you find in a typical mall. Even the relatively poor section of town, the North End, has its attractions including a very well-appointed natural food store, a pub-style bar that serves a young crowd and some of the best chicken wings I’ve ever tasted. And, of course, there is that venerable Wesleyan favorite, O’Rourke’s Diner which Old Cards will be disappointed to learn no longer serves customers 24/7 (be sure and get there before 3PM.)

Ironically, the place really comes alive during the summer when the college population shrinks, but the weather warms up, the days are long and the spicy fragrances from all the open restaurant kitchen doors escape and mingle in the air.

Lovely town all in all. One other comment - similar to Princeton, the influence of the “adjacent” college -(other than the bookstore there are few hints as to the proximity of Wes) does not seem to pervade the everyday ebb and flow of the town. Touch it here and there yes, and probably on a regular basis, but it does not overwhelm the community. Typically very difficult for traditionally blue collar/middle class towns to coexist harmoniously with colleges without interruption, but the overall vibe seemed pretty positive here. Two thumbs up from LargeMarge and hubby!

I’m in the area and think Middletown would be a great college town, particularly due to the campus being right in the town, the variety of restaurants, and accessibility to transportation. We have several favorite restaurants in Middletown, and it really has what you need all in walking distance from campus. The revitalization has been ongoing over the past several years (or longer). Definitely a lot to offer for students.

Unlike Northampton and Amherst further north, Middletown seems rather happy to see the students returning: http://wesleyanargus.com/2020/09/18/middletown-small-businesses-adapt-to-covid-19/