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The Enduring Legacy of Community Opposition During Urban Renewal in New Haven

Compare & Contrast Essay #2 Jonathan Hopkins RWU SHAAP Arch 572 Fall 2011 Prof. Edgar Adams Due: 10-25-11

Figure 1 View of Church Street near Elm, looking towards Chapel; 1910.

Introduction The City of New Haven, Connecticut was incorporated in 1784 and the Federal Period was a time a physical and economic growth for the small, formerly Puritan maritime town. During the first decade following the city’s incorporation, James Hillhouse - a wealthy politician and land owner - initiated the country’s first public tree planting program 1, which was extensive and eventually gained New Haven its nickname as The City of Elms. This effort was part of a larger plan described by a noted local architectural historian as “one of the most important urbanist programs in America at the time [because the Green] was graded, fenced, cleared of old buildings and roads and transformed into a public square and civic center…The climactic event was the building of three churches as a monumental composition down the center.” 2 This takes us into the 1820s when the city was beginning to develop as an industrial center largely thanks to the efforts of Eli Whitney, a Yale graduate who established a factory at the edge of town that would revolutionize manufacturing in America. The maturing of the elm trees around and radiating outward along major streets from the Green coincided with the Canal Age and the establishment of the railroads to create a city that both gained the admiration of people like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain for its beauty while attracting substantial investment from manufacturers and businessmen looking to take advantage of the city’s rail connections and port. This balance, however, was short lived and by the 1860s, the city was rapidly growing in its core and on its periphery. The 1

Townshend, Doris B. Elm Street The Streets of New Haven: The Origin of Their Names (NHCHS, 1998) p. 54 Brown, Elizabeth Mills. The Green and Downtown New Haven: A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design (Yale University, 1976) p. 102 book 2


sprouting of horse-drawn streetcar suburbs ushered in a new era where the middle classes followed the wealthy, who had already left, out of the center of the city into previously uninhabited areas. This initial period of rapid growth, following the construction of the first railroads, was met with a reform effort from the planning community known as the City Beautiful Movement, which sought to redesign large parts of industrial city centers for public spaces and living quarters for the upper middle classes. Aside from plan commissions and the establishment of city planning departments, the actual implementation of the Movement’s work was mostly ignored and the stampede of industrial growth continued well into the 20th Century. The early transit-oriented suburbs of the late 19th Century soon became the home to waves of new immigrants and updated factory complexes that replaced the aging buildings in the city’s core. New suburbs developed around electric trolley lines and automobiles and living conditions around New Haven’s downtown grew steadily worse for each new wave of immigrants that inhabited them. Traffic between Boston and New York navigated slowly through city streets that were not designed to carry high volumes and the resulting gridlock lasted throughout the day. Back alley tenements were also becoming more prevalent as developers capitalized on the need for more housing by squeezing additional units in to the rear yards. These issues were exacerbated by the compounding effects of economic lulls and wartime manufacturing, which fell especially hard on cities during the railroad building speculation bubble and resulting recession of the 1890s, the First World War, the Great Depression, and then the Second World War. Energized by the triumph of World War 2, the dire conditions of the country’s cities, and the New Deal Era efforts, the Federal Government enacted an ambitious reconstruction program with an eye for reform with the passage of the Figure 2 Back alley tenements in New Haven; 1956 American Housing Act of 1949. Urban Redevelopment In order to address the needs the returning G.I.’s from WW2, the federal government passed a bill in 1944 (later amendments in ’45 and ’47) that provided inexpensive, government-secured home mortgages, car loans and college tuition subsidies for children. 3 In addition to responding to the projected housing needs of this large segment of the population, the Bill also served as a stimulus program that helped transition our economy from a government-funded wartime manufacturing effort to a services and consumer base with contracts for home-builders, utility workers and road constructors. These initiatives were seen as rightful compensation to the millions of returning G.I.’s who risked their lives for the wellbeing of their country and the world. 4

3 4

Greene, Gregory. The End of Suburbia (The Electric Wallpaper Co. 2004) [youtube] Gilbert, Cass and FLO Jr. Present Conditions and Tendencies Report of the NHCIC (1910) pgs. 13-17 book


The end of the war effort, while certainly a joyous occasion, also proved disastrous for city economies. Government contracts for weapons manufacturing plants that employed 10s of thousands of New Haveners during the early 40s suddenly ran dry with the end of the war. These gun-makers, which had roots in the city that ran back to Eli Whitney’s musket factory of the late 18th Century and Samuel Colt’s development of the automatic revolver in that same factory in 1836, no longer had a market-based demand for weapons and therefore no need for 20,000 workers as was the case for the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in New Haven. Furthermore, urban neighborhoods were pushed to their breaking point during the war as factories ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and households donated tin cans to the factories for melting. By the late ‘40s, it was clear that the toll of WW2 was not merely taken on the shoulders of service people, but also the workers that produced the goods for war and depended on government contracts, the families that sacrificed for the production of the war effort, and the communities that absorbed the demands put on it by industrial production. So in 1949, a new housing act was passed that opened up federal funding for municipalities to compete for and use to redevelop their struggling communities. The Act also expanded the role of the Federal Housing Administration - originally created under the Housing Act of 1934 - in supplying loans for home mortgages. Later amendments in 1954 allowed for federal funding to be used for rehabilitation projects in addition to clearance and new construction; this is also when the term “urban renewal” first appears. In New Haven, Republican Mayor William Celentano was not very aggressive in his pursuits of federal funding for urban redevelopment. In part, it was because of his old-time style of politics that relied on very little government intervention and his concern for the predictability of investment for business interests. However, conditions in the city were dire – slums were prevalent, pollution was palpable, traffic was jammed and industry and business was rapidly eroding with the rise of the suburbs. In 1954, Democratic Mayor Richard C. Lee was elected because of a grand vision that he presented to voters about a renewed city filled with high quality housing, new businesses, and clean streets with plenty of access for cars. Lee was a skilled politician with an unprecedented ability to get things done. 5 He attracted urban planners from both the Yale community and leading figures from around the country to develop master plans for neighborhood redevelopment projects and architectural commissions. Edward Logue - a man known for his ruthless role within the agency in relation to other employees and his successful efforts of expedient planning execution - was made head of the Redevelopment Agency by Mayor Lee. 6 With world-class planners led by a strong mayor with large amounts of federal funding, New Haven quickly developed as a leading urban example of the national postwar reconstruction effort as 5

Talbot, Allan R. The Mayor’s Game: Richard Lee of New Haven and the Politics of Change (Harper & Row, 1967) Rae, Douglas W. Extraordinary Politics: Dick Lee, Urban Renewal, and the End of Urbanism City: Urban and Its End (Yale University Press, 2003) pgs. 312-360 book 6

the city was able to bring business leadership in line with the public works projects and quickly redevelopment major portions of the city. 7 The Oak Street neighborhood, adjacent to the downtown and the densest slum in the city, was the first major project of the Redevelopment Agency in the city. The neighborhood was home to second generation Italian immigrants, Eastern European Jewish immigrants, and southern black migrants who were all crowded in brick and wood frame tenements with little access to natural light and ventilation. This area, just south of the nine squares, was one of the first areas of the city to develop because of its proximity to the water. Merchants built docks and houses at the water’s edge and along the creek that made its way into the area. Early on the creek was filled and became a site for tanneries on the edge of town. This continued into the industrial age and the community got denser with more factories and housing as the city grew around it and each new wave of immigrants moved in. The redevelopment plan, in accordance with the Housing Acts and the Highway Act of 1956, called for the creation of a highway to connect the Naugatuck Valley to the center of the city and to the new I-95 Interstate Highway system. While the physical deterioration of the neighborhood was evident, the social and cultural institutions were quite strong in the Oak Street area with open air markets, churches, synagogues and local businesses that kept order. The destruction of the neighborhood came as an enormous loss to the residents of Oak Street and it set the foundations for a resistance movement that would grow over the next decade and a half of Richard Lee’s mayoralty.

Figure 3 Housing Conditions Study; 1944

Figure 4 Oak Street Neighborhood Demolition; 1958

Figure 5 Route 34 – Oak Street Connector Plan to connect to lower Naugatuck Valley (never completed) 7

How to get renewal off dead center Architectural Forum (October 1956, v. 105) pgs. 166-169 New Haven, test for downtown renewal Architectural Forum (July 1958, vol. 109)


Figure 6 New Haven Redevelopment Plan

Figure 7a Wooster Sq. Eminent Domain

Figure 7b Wooster Sq. Plan

Local Resistance Wooster Square, on the city’s east side was a largely Italian-American neighborhood in the mid20th Century with many restaurants, grocery stores and a unique social atmosphere 8. Like Oak Street, Wooster Square developed early in the city’s history as a maritime community along the water. As tanneries were popping up in the creek basin along Oak Street, a public park lined by large houses was forming to the east of the city center, north of the original merchant buildings of the previous century. By the late 19th Century, the park - Wooster Square - was quickly becoming a less-than-desirable place for the upper classes to live as industry and railroads began to surround the neighborhood and immigrants moved in. The situation was amplified in the next century as the neighborhood’s density grew and became engulfed by new urban growth. Since 1938, when a housing conditions study was completed for the city, parts of Wooster Square had been declared slums and the conditions only got worse over the following two decades. Plans for the Connecticut Turnpike (I-91) surfaced around 1952, which called for the creation of a highway through the center of Wooster Square. 9 Local activists and politicians were successful in moving the highway away from the park to an area of the neighborhood that was considered the worst slum in the city after Oak Street. The connections that the Italian-American community had in the city were greater than those of Oak Street so Wooster Square was able to work with the Redevelopment Agency to incorporate better public participation in the planning process. The bullying tactics of a local mob boss to move redevelopment from his favorite street for extortion rackets also didn’t help with moving the city’s plans forward. 10However, these efforts materialized too late to extend that same level 8

Riccio, Anthony V. Life in the Wooster Square Neighborhood The Italian American Experience in New Haven (State University of New York Press, 2006) pgs. 349-367 book 9 Hommann, Mary. Planning for Wooster Square Wooster Square Design (New Haven Redevelopment Agency, 1965) p. 21 10 Hoffman, Chris. Midge Renault & The Heyday of the Mob New Haven Independent (August 25, 2009) [part 1 of 3]


of public input into the Oak Street project. Although, Wooster Square’s involvement did establish a baseline that other local groups were able to build on in the coming years after the neighborhood’s moderately successful partial rehabilitation initiative.

Figure 8a Wooster Sq. rowhouses before rehabilitation

Figure 8b Court Street rowhouses after rehabilitation

Figure 9a Interior of Wooster Sq. rowhouses (before)

Figure 9b Interior of Court Street rowhouses (after)

In addition to grassroots community efforts at addressing the issues with the urban renewal program, many professionals in the design and anthropology communities felt that widespread clearance of urban fabric was a mistake for the loss of culture and history that it represented and for the misunderstanding of the adaptability of older buildings through rehabilitation. These professionals worked locally as well as nationally to develop initiatives that would help save valuable buildings and communities from the clearance methods of urban renewal in the years to come.


Impact The efforts of professionals and local citizens groups in the years following the first urban redevelopment projects, in many ways, were now working against the grain of established publicprivate, government and business partnerships that developed from the work of Mayor Lee and the Chamber of Commerce. Private investment and city hall were now geared towards urban changes rather than being weary of it as was the case with the prior republican mayor. So, these resistance groups had neither the benefit of public office, nor the power of private business to guide policy in their favor. This handicap meant that city residents and professionals had to make up for it with protests, petitions, and arduous work to make policy changes and the planning process more democratic. In 1961, the New Haven Preservation Trust was founded to become an advocate for historic rehabilitation and preservation projects in the city as an alternative to demolition. Nationally, the preservation movement organized and successfully implemented the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which provided tax credits and other incentives for rehabilitation projects. 11 Modern zoning also came about in the 1960s, which was an effort to protect property rights from undesirable and “non-conforming� development mostly in residential areas. In cities, zoning became a way for neighborhoods to protect against the type of rapid industrial development that caused so many problems over the previous century. Most importantly, however, was the formation of local community groups that successfully thwarted the implementation of many planned urban renewal projects including parts of the Fair Haven, Lower State Street, Hill, and Newhallville projects. These efforts often worked in accordance with larger social movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, which played out prominently in New Haven during the August 1967 riots 12 and the Alex Rackley murder trial of Black Panther Co-founder Bobby Seal in 1970 13.

Figure 10 People Protesting the Lower State Street project; 1970


Figure 11 The Citizen Action Commission; 1959


Stripe, Robert E. The Federal Preservation Program A Richer Heritage: Historic Preservation in the 21 Century (HPFNC, Inc. 2003) pgs. 35-79 book 12 National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968) 13 Bass, Paul and Douglas W. Rae. Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, and the Redemption of a Killer (Basic Books, 2006) book


Legacy The legacy of these professional and community efforts in the mid-20th Century as a result of the urban redevelopment, renewal and Model Cities programs must be understood within their larger economic, cultural, social, and political contexts. The federal intervention into cities following the Second World War was a result of decades of unplanned industrial development that practically left cities in ruins by the 1950s. Returning G.I.’s were in need of homes, jobs and environments that were conducive to psychological rejuvenation. The wartime economic boom that got us out of the Great Depression needed a market demand-based replacement in order to avoid slipping back into another economic lull. The argument for a national reconstruction effort was strong at this time and it received support from many sources. The realization of these efforts in the form of G.I. Bills, and Housing and Highway Acts, however, was difficult for many communities to accept and support once its implementation had begun. Families saw their homes and their neighborhoods removed, which for many translated into the loss of priceless memories and social connections that were difficult or recover and recreate 14. The results of subsidizing new government-contracted suburban homes with federally-secured mortgages and car loans, while simultaneously redlining urban housing were extremely damaging for families that wanted to stay in their neighborhoods – especially the immigrants and minorities that were disproportionately affected by prejudiced housing conditions studies. 15 The initial American Housing Act of 1949 also precluded the use of federal funds for rehabilitation work, which resulted in the demolition of many buildings that may have been in bad physical condition, but were not necessary beyond saving had money for rehabilitation been provided at the same scale as it was for clearance initially. The Modernism movement also played a large role in the destruction of old parts of the city and advising city agencies to adopt planning philosophies that blatantly despised what was old and favored anything that was new. The road construction standards and expectations outlined in the Highway Act of 1956 also did little good in accurately portraying the efficiency and benefits of central city highways. The planners that established these professional standards also bear some of the blame for their incompetence 16 and reliance on industry “experts” from the auto manufacturers who were dedicated to cornering the market on transportation17. These numerous deficiencies that were embodied in the centralized planning departments of numerous cities across the country, including New Haven, were met with opposition early on in the urban renewal program’s implementation as the effects of these plans by national design experts were becoming understood. Over the last 50 years, the New Haven Preservation Trust has been successful “in the preservation and restoration of the New Haven Free Public Library, the New Haven Post Office and Federal Building, New Haven City Hall, the John Davies Mansion, Union Station, and countless private 14

New Haven Oral History Project. Theresa Argento Life in the Model City: Stories of Urban Renewal in New Haven (CFGNH, 2004) link 15 Rae, Douglas W. Race, Place, and the Emergence of Spatial Hierarchy City: Urbanism and Its End (Yale University Press, 2003) pgs. 254-286 book 16 Jacobs, Allan B. Invention, Evolution, and Demise: A History The Boulevard Book (MIT, 2002) pgs. 89-93 book 17 Klein, Jim. Taken for a Ride (New Day Films, 1996) [youtube]


residences and commercial buildings throughout the city” by means of “advocacy, distribution of information, historic research, tours, and private consultations” 18. The National Historic Preservation Act, and its numerous amendments, has also helped with the success of many local and state preservation initiatives in the city such as non-profit organizations that rehabilitate houses for lowincome residents like Neighborhood Housing Services 19, and private investment projects in homes and businesses 20. Unfortunately, the federal strength of the preservation movement does little more than provide rehabilitation standards and facilitate the National Registry of Historic Places 21 because it is often one of the first programs to be cut because of its perceived expendability in the years since the decline of urban renewal planning. Zoning, which was seen at first as a remedy to many urban issues, has been viewed more recently as central to the problems that continue to plague urban areas in America. The decline of industry, which caused the creation of zoning, was not also followed by a decline in Euclidean, functionbased zoning. In many ways, zoning was a continuation of the rationalized thinking that was abundant in the modern era, especially during the mid-20th Century. Ironically, however, zoning is now often used by NIMBYs and other local community groups that resemble the resistance efforts of the 1960s to oppose any new development. It represents the taking of a good and well-meaning practice to an absurd extreme. Remnants of the organized protesting and resistance groups of the 1960s are often evident in contemporary projects in New Haven, some of which are just as organized and others that are less so. Even in events that seem as insignificant as choosing a new police chief, the desire of some city residents for local hiring and in-department promotion as opposed to bringing in outside “experts” is evidence of a suspicion that people still have towards professionals who may be generally knowledgeable, but who may not specifically be aware of the intricacies of a particular place. 22 These initiatives are most evident, however, in the organized opposition efforts of numerous local community groups to city planning projects, most specifically, the redesign of the Oak Street Connector highway stump 23 that is left over from the urban renewal era. Most vocal amongst these groups, which vary from neighborhood associations to professional planning organizations, is Elm City Cycling (ECC) – a group that advocates for safe transportation infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. 24 The city’s response towards many of these community concerns has been somewhat similar to their responses during urban renewal when the illusion of public participation was used as a distraction 18

NHPT. About Us NHPT website NHSNH. Affordable Housing Development NHSNH website 20 O’Leary, Mary E. Reloading: Developer to air plans for old Winchester factory in New Haven New Haven Register (July 21, 2010) article 21 National Register of Historic Places Inventory. Wooster Square Historic District Nomination Form (Nominated 1969; Granted National Historic Status 1971) [PDF] - link 22 Rosenfeld, Everett. NHPD to hold no-confidence vote Yale Daily News (January 21, 2011) article Bass, Paul. Esserman Returning As Police Chief New Haven Independent (October 17, 2011) article 23 Economic Development Department. Downtown Crossing: TIGER II Capital Grant Application (City of New Haven, 2011) [PDF] - link 24 Appel, Allan. Panel urges Downtown Crossing Re-do New Haven Independent (October 14, 2011) article 19

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for residents while plans were being moved forward. In the 1950s, a Citizen Action Commission [figure 11] was established by the city that was promoted as the voice of the residents when really it was a group of all white, male business leaders who weren’t all that different from the Chamber of Commerce except that they all lived in town. After years of vocal opposition, local community groups were able to get more of a say in developments like the Wooster Square project where the city appointed neighborhood leaders as middlemen to communicate the city’s plans to residents and voice concerns back to the City Plan Department. This was successful in incorporating community ideas into the framework that the city had established, which helped to make residents feel involved and allow the city to get what it initially wanted in terms of roads and business deals. 25 These tactics have been used in City Plan “public meetings”, which consist essentially of a lecture by city planners and a time for citizen responses to the lecture and plans that were presented. The notion of a public meeting has remained, in a sense, more of a charade disguised as a public process to move projects along than anything else. Photos of the meetings are used on reports and grant applications regardless of the context of the meetings in order to image of participation. 26 Design charrettes that allow for the free flow of ideas without imposed limitations by the city has been absent at any public meetings and when they have occurred it has been organized by community groups. 27 Like the demonstration and protesting groups of the 1960s, today’s resistance movements to poor planning practices have relied on grassroots efforts and organizing that aims to educate and involve the public rather than misinform and deceive them. 28 Additionally, many of these groups are being proactive rather than reactive as they attempt to get a head start of the planning process before too many wheels of a project have begun to roll forward.

Figure 12 Proposal for Downtown Crossing Phase 1

Figure 13 Residents calling for a redesign of the project

A major difference between the city government of urban renewal and today’s is that the Redevelopment Agency had nearly all the funding they could ever want and hardly any restrictions, while today’s planning, economic development, and transportation departments are strapped for funding and manpower and have many restrictions that must be adhered to for timely project 25

Dahl, Robert. Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City (Yale University Press, 1961) book City of New Haven. Public Workshop Meetings Community Workshop (February 15, 2011) pgs. 6-9 [PDF] 27 Turmelle, Luther. Workshop looks to reshape focus of Rt. 34 project in city New Haven Register (July 31, 2011) article 28 Jackson, Mandi Isaacs. Model City Blues: Urban Space and Organized Resistance in New Haven (Temple University Press, 2008) book 26

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completion. The leaders of the urban renewal program in New Haven often squashed local opposition easily in the initial phases of projects and later on they used clever techniques to distract people and disguise their process. The case today is different in that the city uses some of those same techniques but in an effort to assure that deadlines for using funding are kept, and regulations like highway design standards, which weren’t around or were in development during the 1950s, are being adhered to. The city feels that it is necessary to sometimes ignore public input into projects for the sake of assuring that at least some kind of development is not missed out on 29, even if the public does not support it. Another major difference lies in the guiding forces of development in the city, which at the time of urban renewal were the needs of business leaders and modern manufacturing and today is basically Yale University. Business and industry was quickly leaving the city at the time of Mayor Lee’s election and in order to restore investment in the central city, many initiatives were implemented, including the creation of highways that easily accessed parking garages attached to large retail outlets. Manufacturing was also unable to continue growing outward from the center in the city as it had for the last century – it required large horizontal plants with access to highways. Public funds were used to create new manufacturing facilities for large companies in New Haven, which included Sargent Hardware and the Gant Clothing Factory. 30

Figure 14 1879 Aerial (Hospital in Center Block)

Figure 15 2011 Aerial (Hospital of every surrounding block)

In addition to the city’s planning department, several powerful private developers have risen in the city over the last few decades as federal funding for redevelopment dwindled and eventually evaporated. With the election of Richard Nixon as president in 1968 and the opposition to many of urban renewal’s proposal, the program was massively cut in 1969 when he took office. The strong municipal governments slowly shrank in both power and funding, which allowed other players - mostly private investors - to emerge. Throughout the redevelopment process, Yale University played a major role because of its wealth and its growing prominence as a global institution. Yale-New Haven Hospital was able to expand enormously in the 1960s as the Oak Street and Hill neighborhoods, where the 29

Abraham, Mark. Whitney Avenue Paving: “Everything you’d want out of a local access highway” New Haven Safe Streets Coalition (June 24, 2009) link 30 A conspiratorial account of the private business and municipal government relationships in New Haven: Domhoff, William. Who Really Rules? New Haven and Community Power Reexamined (Transaction Books, 1978) book - website

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hospital is located, were demolished. Since the ‘60s, the Hospital has bought up many properties in the surrounding neighborhood 31 in order to allow for future expansion. Many of the properties are deteriorating and are in need of investment. Unfortunately, decrepit housing keeps property values low and enables the cheap acquisition of land for the hospital to build new facilities, many of which end up being parking garages. So far opposition movements from the adjacent Hill neighborhood have been mostly fruitless, but efforts remain to reform the poor planning practices of the hospital, which currently focuses on accommodating commuters rather than helping to make the nearby residential areas more desirable to live in through investment. More recently, a Yale-backed private developer, Carter Winstanley, has also became a major force in development in the city with office and laboratory space aimed at capturing the demand generated from Yale’s medical research, hospital, and nursing school. Winstanley is the investor behind the city’s Downtown Crossing project as well as several other projects throughout the city. His impact – since his a newcomer – is difficult to evaluate and reception to his projects has been mixed. The entire legacy of urban renewal resistance is not, however, represented in contemporary resistance efforts. There has also been a shift in the way that projects from the urban renewal era are talked about in public discourse that dramatically differs from the optimistic language and vision that was espoused by politicians of the era. In print since the 1960s, noted art and architectural historian Vincent Scully has lampooned the urban renewal program as a planning fiasco rife with regrets and unforgivable mistakes. 32 Scully’s sentiments, which are shared by many other critics and scholars, are repeated both intentionally and unintentionally by contemporary politicians and community groups as the conservation about urban renewal, whether fair or accurate or not, now centers around how bad it was. One other manifestation of urban renewal legacy has been the dedication of buildings, parks and monuments to politicians, community organizers and civil rights leaders. Most recently in New Haven there was a dedication for the DeLauro family who was integral in moving the I-91 highway from the center of Wooster Square in the 1950s. A granite sculpture of an informal table with seats was erected in the square to recognize the efforts of Ted DeLauro, who served as a community coordinator for Wooster Square, his wife Luisa, was the longest serving alderman in the city from 1964 to 1999, and their daughter Rosa, who has been a congresswoman for Connecticut for 20 years. However, even this dedication wasn’t without controversy as many neighbors felt that the monument’s planning did not follow a proper public process and that the design was ill-fitting for the park. 33 In many ways, the resistance to urban renewal planning and contemporary development in the city has been a rejection of modernist planning principles. The elaborate roadways, parking structures and commercial buildings that were aimed at attracted the middle classes back into the city came at the expense of poorer city residents. A generation after the destruction of the Oak Street neighborhood it was clear that the highways had not brought residents back into the city but rather enabled a quicker departure. The monolithic and monotonous structures of the modern movement proved to have 31

Vision Appraisal CT Database website Scully, Vincent. American Architecture and Urbanism (Henry Holt & Co. 1988) Scully, Vincent. Architecture: The Natural and the Man Made (St. Martin’s Press, 1991) 33 Carter, Angela. ‘DeLauro Family Table’ up, despite some objections New Haven Register (October 18, 2011) article 32

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inhuman scales and only operate as effective architectural icons when viewed from the highway or with ignorance to surrounding context. The small communities that had developed in working class neighborhoods in New Haven and centered around hole-in-the-wall businesses and shops were condemned by people who weren’t residents of these places. The imposition of the anti-contextual modern style into these neighborhoods mirrored the importation of national planning “experts” and their lack of concern for local culture.

Figure 16 View of the Oak Street neighborhood in the 1950s, 1960s, and 2010s.

The urban renewal program and its resulting backlash has left a lasting mark on the city as new efforts are mounted to oppose development projects and the city uses familiar tactics to move plans forward. Even as economic development in the city becomes increasingly organized around private investment sources 34, the role that the public plays is an important one that is sometimes well executed in the community-sponsored design charrettes, but is also sometimes poorly displayed in the mountains of legislation and regulations that have accumulated over the years in the form of zoning, approval commissions, and NIMBY opposition, which represents a problem for modern development. For better or worse, the legacy of the grassroots resistance movements will certainly be a part of New Haven for many years to come as the city continually adapts to changing perceptions and expectations.


Cohen, Lizabeth. Lecture Saving America’s Cities in the Postwar Suburban Age (CASAR; March 18, 2010)[youtube]

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Bibliography Bass, Paul and Douglas W. Rae. Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, and the Redemption of a Killer (Basic Books, 2006) Brown, Elizabeth Mills. New Haven: A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design (Yale University, 1976) Dahl, Robert. Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City (Yale University Press, 1961) Domhoff, William. Who Really Rules? New Haven and Community Power Reexamined (Transaction Books, 1978) Jackson, Mandi Isaacs. Model City Blues: Urban Space and Organized Resistance in New Haven (Temple University Press, 2008) Jacobs, Allan B. The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards (Massachusetts Institute of Technology , 2002) Rae, Douglas W. City: Urban and Its End (Yale University Press, 2003) Riccio, Anthony V. The Italian American Experience in New Haven (State University of New York Press, 2006) Scully, Vincent. American Architecture and Urbanism (Henry Holt & Co. 1988) Scully, Vincent. Architecture: The Natural and the Man Made (St. Martin’s Press, 1991) st

Stripe, Robert E. A Richer Heritage: Historic Preservation in the 21 Century (HPFNC, Inc. 2003) Talbot, Allan R. The Mayor’s Game: Richard Lee of New Haven and the Politics of Change (Harper & Row, 1967) Townshend, Doris B. The Streets of New Haven: The Origin of Their Names (NHCHS, 1998)

Documentaries/Lectures Cohen, Lizabeth. Saving America’s Cities in the Postwar Suburban Age (CASAR; March 18, 2010) Greene, Gregory. The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (The Electric Wallpaper Co. 2004) Klein, Jim. Taken for a Ride (New Day Films, 1996)

Newspapers/Articles Architectural Forum New Haven Independent (New Haven, CT) New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) Yale Daily News (New Haven, CT)

Reports, Documents, and Publications

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Economic Development Department. Downtown Crossing: TIGER II Capital Grant Application (City of New Haven, 2011) Gilbert, Cass and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. Report of the New Haven Civic Improvement Commission (1910) Hommann, Mary. Wooster Square Design (New Haven Redevelopment Agency, 1965) National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968) National Register of Historic Places Inventory. Wooster Square Historic District Nomination Form (Nominated 1969; Granted National Historic Status 1971)

Websites Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven New Haven Oral History Project New Haven Preservation Trust New Haven Safe Streets Coalition Vision Appraisal CT Database

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Resistance: The Enduring Legacy of Community Opposition During Urban Renewal in New Haven  
Resistance: The Enduring Legacy of Community Opposition During Urban Renewal in New Haven  

History and analysis of community opposition to urban renewal in New Haven.