New Haven, Connecticut

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New Haven, Connecticut
City seal
City nickname: "The Elm City"
Location of New Haven in Connecticut

Location in the state of Connecticut
Founded April 24, 1638
County New Haven County
Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. (Dem)
 - Total
 - Water

52.4 km² (20.2 mi²
3.6 km² (1.4 mi²) 6.91%
 - City (2000)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

600,000 (Approx.)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5
41.31° N
72.92° W

New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut, and is located in New Haven County, Connecticut, on New Haven Harbor, on the northern coast of Long Island Sound. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 123,626. New Haven is generally considered to be halfway between the greater New York metropolitan area and the greater New England area, and can be said to be culturally split between the influence of the larger cities and its own New England roots.

New Haven's nickname is the Elm City, as it historically contained many elm trees, which in recent years have mostly succumbed to Dutch Elm disease; it nevertheless remains a very 'green' city. It is home to Yale University, the institution for which the city is most known. It is considered the first planned city (1638) in the United States. It was the birthplace of current U.S. President George W. Bush.



Pre-Colonial and Colonial History

Before European arrival, New Haven was the home of the Quinnipiack tribe of Native Americans, who lived in villages around the harbor and subsisted off of local fisheries and the farming of maize. The area was briefly visited by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614. Dutch traders set up a small trading system of beaver pelts with the local inhabitants, but trade was sporadic and the Dutch did not settle permanently in what would become New Haven.

In April 1638, five-hundred Puritans who left the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the leadership of Reverend John Davenport and the London merchant Theophilus Eaton sailed into the harbor. These settlers were hoping to establish a more perfect theological community than the one they left in Massachusetts and sought to take advantage of the excellent port capabilities of the harbor (which is actually a fjord). The Quinnipiacks, who were under attack by neighboring Pequots, agreed to sell their land to the settlers in return for protection from hostile tribes.

By 1640, the town's theocratic government and city grid plan were in place, and the town was renamed Newhaven from Quinnipiac. The new settlement soon became the headquarters of the New Haven Colony, which at that time was separate from the Connecticut Colony which had been established to the north focusing on Hartford. (see Wikisource:Government of New Haven Colony) Economic disaster struck the colony in 1646, however, when the town sent its first fully-loaded ship of local goods back to England. This ship never reached the Old World, and its disappearance stymied New Haven's development in the face of the rising trade power of Boston and New Amsterdam.

In 1661, the judges who had signed the death warrant of Charles I of England were pursued by Charles II. Two judges, Colonel Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe, fled to New Haven to seek refuge from the king's forces. John Davenport arranged for these "Regicides" to hide in the West Rock hills northwest of the town. A third judge, John Dixwell, joined the other regicides at a later time.

New Haven became part of the Connecticut Colony in 1664, when the two colonies were merged under political pressure from England. It was made co-capital of Connecticut in 1701, a status it retained until 1873. At this time, New Haven was a largely agricultural town, but in 1716, Yale University relocated from Old Saybrook to New Haven and established the early city as a center of learning.

During the American Revolution, New Haven was a town of approximately 3,500 citizens and was a major hotbed of revolutionary activity -- so much so that the British invaded the town during the course of the war; however, the British forces did not torch New Haven as they had done with many other coastal New England towns they seized, leaving many of its colonial features preserved.

For over a century, New Haven had fought alongside the British in the French and Indian War, and many influential residents, such as General David Wooster, hoped that the conflict with Britain could be resolved short of rebellion. On April 23, 1775 (still celebrated in New Haven as Powder House Day) however, the Second Company, Governor's Foot Guard, of New Haven entered the struggle against the British when, under Captain Benedict Arnold, they broke into the powder house to arm themselves and began a three day march to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other New Haven militia members were on hand to escort George Washington from his overnight stay in New Haven on his way to Cambridge. Contemporary reports, from both sides, remark on the New Haven volunteers' professional military bearing, including uniforms.

Post-colonial History

New Haven was incorporated as a city in 1784, and Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Constitution and author of the "Connecticut Compromise", became the new city's first mayor.

The city struck fortune in the late 18th-century with the inventions and industrial activity of Eli Whitney, a Yale graduate who remained in New Haven to develop the cotton gin and also establish a gun-manufacturing factory in the northern part of the city near the Hamden border. That area of Hamden is still known as Whitneyville, and the main road through both cities is known as Whitney Avenue. The factory is now a museum, with particular emphasis on activities for children, as well as a substantial collection of exhibits pertaining to the A. C. Gilbert Company. Whitney pioneered the concept of industrial mass-production instead of painstaking hand-shaping of individual pieces, no two of which would be interchangeable. Adoption of his methods made early Connecticut a powerful manufacturing economy; so many arms manufacturers sprung up that Connecticut became known as 'The Arsenal of America'. It was in Whitney's gun-manufacturing plant that Samuel Colt first invented the automatic revolver in 1836.

New Haven was home to one of the important early events in the burgeoning anti-slavery movement when, in 1839, the trial of mutineering Mendi tribesmen being transported as slaves on the Spanish slaveship Amistad was held in New Haven's United States District Court.

During the Civil War, the city received another economic boost as demand for industrial goods increased nationally. New Haven's population doubled in the time between the war and the start of the 20th century, most notably due to the influx of immigrants from southern Europe, particularly Italy.

Modern History

Harkness Tower, part of the Yale University campus located in downtown New Haven
Harkness Tower, part of the Yale University campus located in downtown New Haven

New Haven's growth continued during the two world wars, however most inward immigration during those years was of African-Americans from the South and Puerto Ricans as opposed to foreigners. The city reached its peak size during World War II, and in many cases it can be argued that it was already in decline when the post-war process of suburbanization began in earnest.

As early as 1954, New Haven was already suffering from an exodus of middle-class workers and the chronic development of "slums". Then mayor Richard Lee attempted to stem the tide by engaging in one of the earliest major urban renewal projects in the United States. Large sections of downtown New Haven were destroyed and rebuilt with new office towers, a hotel, and large shopping complexes. Other parts of the city were affected by the construction of Interstate 95 along the Long Wharf section and Interstate 91. In some cases, the destruction leftover from a planned semi-beltway around and through the city remains incomplete to this day in the form of open fields in the midst of older neighborhoods.

From the 1960s through the early 1990s, New Haven continued to decline both economically and in terms of total population despite many attempts to resurrect the city through renewal projects. During this period, the city and Yale were engaged in ongoing disputes over taxation and land use.

At present, New Haven has stabilized. The city has engaged in efforts to attract and encourage biomedical and pharmaceutical research facilities to locate in-town, and some have done so to take advantage of the city's connections with Yale. Downtown New Haven is revitalizing itself as a center of shopping, and Crown Street and Chapel Street are becoming centers of regional nightlife and a burgeoning bar scene. The university, and other local schools, also continue to draw in many young people from around the world. Ongoing problems persist, however, with poverty, the spread of AIDS, and decaying primary education facilities and transportation infrastructure remaining as chronic problems for the city. In this respect, New Haven shares similar aspects with many of New England's post-industrial urban centers.

Historical Populations

Colleges and universities

New Haven is known first and foremost as a center for education and research. Yale University, at the heart of downtown, is one of the city's best known features and its largest employer. New Haven is also home to other centers of higher education, including Southern Connecticut State University and Albertus Magnus College. The University of New Haven is located, interestingly enough, in the neighboring city of West Haven. North of the city, in Hamden, is the site of Quinnipiac University. New Haven is also served by Gateway Community College, located in the Long Wharf district.



The city is connected to New York City by both intercity and commuter rail, provided by Amtrak and Metro-North Railroad respectively, and some New Haven residents commute to work in New York City (a trip of close to two hours). The city's main railroad station is Union Station, which serves Metro-North trains to New York, Shore Line East commuter trains to Old Saybrook, and Amtrak trains to New York, Boston, and Springfield, Massachusetts. An additional station at State Street provides SLE and a few Metro-North passengers easier access to the Central Business District.

Major Highways

New Haven lies at the intersection of Interstate 95, which provides access to New York and the coastal regions further north, and Interstate 91, which leads northward to the interior of New England. Within the city itself there is the Oak Street Connector/Route 34 which intersects just south of the I-95/I-91 interchange and runs northwest as a spur into downtown. The Route 15 Parkway, also known as the Wilbur Cross Parkway, runs just north of the city, through the outer rim of New Haven, and Hamden. New Haven is also the site of the only highway tunnel in the state (Route 15). The tunnel runs through West Rock, home to West Rock Park and 3 Judges cave.


Tweed-New Haven Airport located along the New Haven/East Haven border provides daily service to 126 cities through US Airways and Delta Airlines. Jet service returned to Tweed New Haven in May, 2004 after a long absence. It is not uncommon for locals to use Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, or New York City's LaGuardia Airport or JFK International or Newark, New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport, when flying overseas or to a non-Eastern destination.

Newspapers and Media

New Haven is served by the daily New Haven Register and the weekly alternative (now corporate run) New Haven Advocate. It is also served by several student-run papers, including the Yale Daily News and the weekly Yale Herald.

Culture and Notable Features


Although credit for creation of the hamburger sandwich is disputed, New Haven boosters accept the claim that it was first served in the United States in 1895 by Louis Lassen, operator of Louis' Lunch, which is still in operation. Burgers are cooked in the original 1895 setup, which holds them vertically instead of flat, between two grills; they are served between two slices of white bread, and the only condiments available are slices of tomato and onions. The restaurant is one of eight featured in "Hamburger America"[1], a documentary film which premiered on Sundance cable television network on the Fourth of July, 2005.

New Haven's culinary tradition also includes a claim of being the birthplace of pizza in the United States. Dubious as that claim may be (see Gennaro_Lombardi), New-Haven-style pizza, called apizza (pronounced ah-BEETS in the local Italian dialect), is made in a coal- or wood-fired brick oven, and is notable for its paper-thin crust. Apizza may be Red (with a tomato-based sauce) or White (garlic and olive oil), and pies ordered "plain" are made without the otherwise customary mozzarella cheese (pronounced sca-MOTZ). Locally, the White Clam Pie is favored. Pizzerias of distinction include Sally's Apizza and Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, both located on the same block in the Italian-American neighborhood of Wooster Square, Modern Apizza not far away on State Street, and upstart newcomer Bar, a Microbrewery located across Crown Street from Louis' Lunch in New Haven's "entertainment district" downtown.

Some exceptionally highly regarded restaurants in New Haven include the Union League Café on Chapel St., owned in part by local (Madison, CT) resident Jacques Pepin and serving classical haute cuisine, Claire's Cornercopia at Chapel and College Streets, serving vegetarian food and is the oldest exclusively vegetarian menu restaurant in the country, Ibiza on High St. (once credited by the food critic in the New York Times with the best meal he had had in the previous year), which was formerly a highly regarded tapas restaurant named Pika Tapas but has turned to a fusion of nouvelle cuisine with Spanish food, and Roomba, serving an innovative nouvelle cuisine interpretation of Cuban food. Remarkably, all of these world-class restaurants are on the same block downtown.

Also of note:

New Haven is also famous for its Thai Cuisine with restaraunts including Thai Taste, Bangkok Garden, Pad Thai, etc.

Popular Culture

On March 20, 1914 the first United States figure skating championship was held here.

New Haven was also the location in 1967 of one of Jim Morrison's infamous arrests while he fronted the rock group The Doors. The resultant near-riotous concert and arrest was commemorated by Morrison in the lyrics to "Peace Frog" which include the missive "...blood in the streets in the town of New Haven..."

New Haven currently serves as the home city of the annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

New Haven is also home to the famous concert and dance hall Toad's Place which brings in many big name acts to the city.

Garry Trudeau, the creator and current author of the comic strip "Doonesbury" attended Yale University, in New Haven, where he met the namesake of said comic strip. Longtime New Haven resident Charlie Pillsbury, once Green Party candidate for senator, attended Yale with Trudeau, and went by the nickname "the doones" at the time.

Sports Teams and Athletic Entertainment

New Haven, being a significantly large urban area, served as a home city to many sports teams, all of which have since gone defunct or left town. Most notably, it was home to the New Haven Ravens, an Eastern League AA team from 1994-2003. The Ravens have since moved to Manchester, New Hampshire and became the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The New Haven Cutters baseball team began play in 2004 in the independent Northeast (now Can-Am) League, and call a renovated Yale Field its home park.

The New Haven Coliseum, an egregious example of failed modernism leading to urban blight, was built in 1972 to accommodate a variety of entertainment functions for greater New Haven. It is currently being destroyed due to its disfunctional design and financial drain on the City. Most understand that the facility is hopelessly outdated; that the parking garage, accessed via a quarter-mile double circular ramp, has failed to attract usage; and that the City and state Hotel-Motel Tax subsidies that had been devoted to the facility will be better applied to other priorities.

The New York Giants of the NFL played an exhibition game against the Detroit Lions in 1960, a first for the city. A number of exhibition games were played against the New York Jets through the 1970s, and in the 1973 and 1974 NFL seasons, the Giants made the Yale Bowl their home field while Yankee Stadium was being renovated.

From July 1st through 9th, 1995, the city hosted the Ninth Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University hosts the Pilot Pen International, a professional men's and women's tennis event, every August. The stadium at the Connecticut Tennis Center is the second largest tennis venue in the world, second only to Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows in New York City.


The city is very active in the world of theatre, and host numerous theatres and production houses including: the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Long Wharf Theatre, and the Shubert Performing Arts Center. There is also theatre activity from the drama department at Yale which works through the Yale University Theatre and the student run Yale Cabaret. Southern Connecticut State University hosts the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts.

The New Haven theatres historically served as staging grounds for test runs of major productions before their Broadway debuts.


New Haven offers its residents and visitors a wide variety of world-class museums, many of them associated with Yale. Some of the more notable museums are the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library which features an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the Connecticut Children's Museum, the new Knights of Columbus museum near its world headquarters, the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Eli Whitney museum (actually just across the border in Hamden, on Whitney Avenue), the Yale Center for British Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery, the nation's oldest college art museum. New Haven is also the home port of a life-size replica of the historical Amistad slaveship which is open for tours at Long Wharf pier at certain times during the summer. Also at Long Wharf pier is the Quinnipiack schooner, offering sailing cruises of the harbor area throughout the summer.


The New Haven Green is the site of many free music concerts held by the city, especially during the summer months. Some of the more notable music events are the free summer shows by the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the July series of jazz concerts.

New Haven is also home to the famous concert venue Toad's Place, which hosted many big name acts fairly regularly until the venues of the Indian casinos, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino, became the major stopping place of national acts passing through Southern Connecticut. Rudy's Bar, BAR and Cafe Nine are also popular venues. Other world renowned underground clubs, such as The Tune Inn and Ron's Place, were once located in the Elm City.

Production-wise, many staples of the emerging punk movement in the late 1970s had influences from the New Haven music scene, and the city has retained an alternative art and music underground that has gone on to influence post-punk era music movements such as indie/college rock and underground hip-hop.

Notable Inhabitants:

Sister cities of New Haven

New Haven has engaged in a program of encouraging its citizens to gain a global awareness through its own version of a sister cities program, as many other cities worldwide have done. As of the present day, New Haven's sister cities are:

Some of these cities, such as Freetown, were selected as sister cities because of specific historical connections between New Haven and the paired city -- in Freetown's case because of the role of the Amistad trial. Others, such as Amalfi and Afula-Gilboa, reflect traditionally significant ethnic groups evident in New Haven.

In 1990, the city of New Haven was additionally chosen by the United Nations as a "Peace Messenger City."


In 1892, local confectioner George C. Smith invented the first lollipops.

The frisbee is said to have originated on the Yale campus, based on the tin pans of the Frisbie Pie Company which were tossed around by students on the New Haven Green.

New Haven serves as the world headquarters of the Knights of Columbus organization, which maintains its headquarters and a small museum downtown. The organization was founded in the city in 1882.

New Haven has been fictionalized in the movie The Skulls, which focused on conspiracy theories surrounding the real-life Skull and Bones secret society which is located in New Haven. The city was also fictionally portrayed in the movie Amistad concerning the events around the mutiny trial of that ship's rebelling captives.

New Haven hosted the first Bell PSTN switch office.

The New York Giants football team actually played their home games at the Yale Bowl for the 1974 and 1975 seasons while Yankee Stadium (their old home) was being renovated and Giants Stadium in New Jersey (their current home) was being built.

Ultra-traditional mens clothier J. Press was founded in New Haven by immigrant tailor Jacobi Press in 1902. Their store on York Street remains their largest in the country; additional stores are located in New York, New York, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C..


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 52.4 km² (20.2 mi²). 48.8 km² (18.9 mi²) of it is land and 3.6 km² (1.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 6.91% water.

New Haven's best-known geographic features are its large deep harbor, and two reddish basalt "trap rocks" which rise to the northeast and northwest of the city core. These trap rocks are known respectively as East Rock and West Rock, and both serve as extensive parks. West Rock has been tunneled through to make way for the east-west passage of the Wilbur Cross Parkway (the only highway tunnel through a natural obstacle in Connecticut), and once served as the hideout of the "Regicides" (see: Regicides Trail). Most New-Haveners refer to these men as "The Three Judges." East Rock features the prominent Soldiers and Sailors war monument on its peak as well as the "Great Steps" which run up the rock's cliffside.

Urban Layout and Neighborhoods

Urban Layout

New Haven has a long tradition of urban planning and a purposeful design of the city's layout. Upon founding, New Haven was laid out in a grid pattern of nine square blocks; the central square was left open, in the tradition of many New England towns, as the city green (a commons area). To the present day, the New Haven Green remains almost unchanged from its original layout, and is home to three separate churches which speak to the original theocratic nature of the city.

In the modern era, New Haven has undergone many urban redevelopment projects to revitalize and enhance the city with mixed results. The central downtown area, for one, has been the site of numerous experiments in urban re-design, with new hotels, shopping centers, a sports coliseum, and office towers built under city, state, and federal efforts. Some of these efforts, such as the New Haven Coliseum, were never officially completed; the Coliseum is now closed and is being torn down. The most recent sector being redeveloped is the "Ninth Square", named from the original nine square layout described above.

Neighborhoods of New Haven

The city has many distinct neighborhoods despite its relatively compact size when compared to other cities. In addition to Downtown centered on the central business district and the Green, the southern neighborhoods including The Hill (neighborhood) and the harborside district of Long Wharf; the western neighborhoods of Edgewood-West River, Westville, and West Rock-Westhills; East Rock in the northeastern side of town; Fair Haven, located between the Mill and Quinnipiac rivers; the Italian-American neighborhood of Wooster Square; and across the Quinnipiac River facing the eastern side of the harbor, The Annex and Morris Cove.

Each neighborhood exhibits its own unique mix of ethnic, economic, and social qualities, combining influences from immigrants, long-time residents, and neighboring towns. The city's neighborhoods are, in general, seeing a rebirth of economic vibrancy and development, especially Downtown and Long Wharf.

Greater New Haven

Despite being within the New York--Northern New Jersey--Long Island, NY--NJ--CT--PA Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area, New Haven is also contained within the more local New Haven--Meriden Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area where it serves as the primary metropolitan focal point for most of New Haven County and for a slice of Middlesex County. The metro area of Greater New Haven encompasses approximately 600,000 residents, many of whom commute to work in New Haven, and includes the following towns:

In New Haven County

In Middlesex County

Derby and Milford are sometimes also considered to be part of Greater New Haven, although both towns lie on the border with the Greater Bridgeport area. Both of these towns are located in New Haven County.

Hospitals and Medicine

The New Haven area supports several medical facilities that are considered some of the best hospitals in the country. These include Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, and the Hospital of Saint Raphael. A large Veterans Affairs hospital is located nearby in West Haven. To the west in Milford is Milford Hospital and to the north in Meriden is the MidState Medical Center.

Power Supply Facilities

Near New Haven there is the static inverter plant of the HVDC Cross Sound Cable. New Haven also has a seasonal oil burning power plant called the English station located on Mill River Island in Fair Haven.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 123,626 people, 47,094 households, and 25,854 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,532.2/km² (6,558.4/mi²). There are 52,941 housing units at an average density of 1,084.4/km² (2,808.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 43.46% White, 37.36% African American, 0.43% Native American, 3.90% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 10.89% from other races, and 3.91% from two or more races. 21.39% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 47,094 households out of which 29.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.5% are married couples living together, 22.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 45.1% are non-families. 36.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.40 and the average family size is 3.19.

In the city the population is spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 16.4% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 29 years. For every 100 females there are 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $29,604, and the median income for a family is $35,950. Males have a median income of $33,605 versus $28,424 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,393. 24.4% of the population and 20.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 32.2% of those under the age of 18 and 17.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Points of interest


  • Leonard Bacon, Thirteen Historical Discourses, (New Haven, 1839)
  • C. H. Hoadley (editor), Records of the Colony of New Haven, 1638-1665, (two volumes, Hartford, 1857-58)
  • J. W. Barber, History and Antiquities of New Haven, (third edition, New Haven, 1870)
  • C. H. Levermore, Town and City Government of New Haven, (Baltimore, 1886)
  • C. H. Levermore, Republic of New Haven: A History of Municipal Evolution, (Baltimore, 1886)
  • E. S. Bartlett, Historical Sketches of New Haven. (New Haven, 1897)
  • F. H. Cogswell, "New Haven" in L. P. Powell (editor), Historic Towns of New England, (New York, 1898)
  • H. T. Blake, Chronicles of New Haven Green, (New Haven, 1898)
  • E. E. Atwater, History of the Colony of New Haven, (New edition, New Haven, 1902)
  • New Haven City Yearbooks

External links

Neighborhoods of New Haven
Amity | The Annex | Beaver Hills | Church Street South | City Point | Downtown | Dixwell | Dwight-Edgewood-West River | East Rock | East Shore | Edgewood-West River | Fair Haven | Fair Haven Heights | The Hill | Long Wharf | Morris Cove | Newhallville | Prospect Hill | Quinnipiac Meadows | Upper State Street | West Rock-Westhills | Westville | Wooster Square

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State of Connecticut




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