Greater Hartford's close proximity - and economic and cultural interconnectedness with - Metropolitan Springfield combine to make the Hartford-Springfield Metropolitan Area the second most populous region in New England, with a population of approximately 1.9 million. Collectively, the Hartford-Springfield Metropolitan Region is nicknamed the Knowledge Corridor because it contains 32 universities and colleges, with approximately 160,000 university students. The two Connecticut River cities share Bradley International Airport, which lies equidistant between their downtowns.
Nicknamed the "Insurance Capital of the World", Hartford houses many insurance company headquarters, and insurance remains the region's major industry. Almost 400 years old, Hartford is among the oldest cities in the United States. Following the American Civil War, Hartford was the wealthiest city in the United States for several decades. In 1868, Mark Twain wrote, "Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see this is the chief."
In 2010, the Hartford metropolitan area ranked second nationally in per capita economic activity, behind only San Francisco. Hartford is ranked 32nd of 318 metropolitan areas in total economic production and, with its Knowledge Corridor sister city Springfield, Massachusetts, the two cities generate over $110 billion GDP - which is more than 16 U.S states.
Hartford is home to the nation's oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum; the oldest public park, Bushnell Park; the oldest continuously published newspaper, The Hartford Courant; the second-oldest secondary school, Hartford Public, and the Mark Twain House, among other historically significant attractions.