The call of Yale’s libraries, dining halls, and courtyards can make it all too easy to stick to what you’re used to. But the city’s neighborhoods offer opportunities beyond activism and community service — they’re also rich in culture and nature. Here’s a sample.
New Haven is famous for its original nine square plan, which features the beautiful New Haven Green at its center. The plan was first conceived when the city was founded in 1638, and its imprint is still visible on any city map.
New Haven Harbor has been in a long decline, but new plans for redevelopment and investment may make this the hottest area of the city in the next five years. A good place to get a taste of the neighborhood and a glimpse of the water is the renowned Long Wharf Theater, which shows original plays and revivals. Their “Stage II” shows are a great place to see experimental, exciting professional theater without breaking the bank.
The Audubon Street neighborhood is a great place for artsy Yalies, even those who aren’t doing art at Yale. Known primarily as the location of campus hangouts Koffee? and Clark’s Dairy, this neighborhood (up Whitney Avenue, just past Timothy Dwight College) is filled with galleries, studios, art schools and arts bookshops. The Creative Arts Workshop and the Neighborhood Music School offer Yalies who don’t want to fulfill prerequisite requirements relatively cheap, high-quality art and music classes.
The Ronan-Edgehill neighborhood is a long strip that stretches north from Science Hill between Whitney Avenue and Prospect Street. The wide, tree-lined streets and gracious mansions of St. Ronan Street make this patrician neighborhood the perfect place for a low-key, soul-healing walk.
Return to the source of all things Eli with a visit to the Eli Whitney Museum, up Whitney Avenue in — where else? — Whitneyville, just over the New Haven border in Hamden. Whitneyville is a quaint, bustling neighborhood of small businesses. Its petite museum celebrates the invention and entrepreneurial spirit of Eli Whitney, class of 1792 and inventor of the cotton gin. It sits on the shores of Lake Whitney, created by Whitney’s father, which provided New Haven’s first supplies of water and power.
Often overlooked by Yale students, Edgewood Park is a large (123 acres), close oasis of green. Located in the nearby Dwight neighborhood, Edgewood has a duck pond, tennis and basketball courts, and soccer fields — all closer than the intramural facilities near the Yale Bowl.
Most Yalies have been to East Rock, but West Rock, northwest of campus, is a nice bike ride away, too. This landmark Connecticut state park features a lake, rocky caves and walking trails in a little-seen nook of New Haven.
New Haven’s Italian community has a rich heritage that goes way beyond its food. But for history, like cannoli, the place to go is Wooster Square. A short walk from campus along Chapel Street, Wooster Square features meticulously renovated townhouses and a small green that echoes the New Haven Green and Washington, D.C.-style blooming cherry trees in the spring.