Not many people choose to come to Yale because of New Haven. Unlike that school up North, poor Yale has to attract students based on its own merits, not how good the shopping is. Yet during their first year on campus, few students will even feel they have time to explore New Haven beyond Old Campus and Science Hill. If they’re really daring, they might discover that Koffee Too? is not just merely a cute pun — there’s a Koffee, too.
I counted myself among the many freshman who didn’t know what the foundry of Foundry Bookstore was, how good the cannolis at Libby’s on Wooster Square really are or where Lighthouse Point is. Naples seemed like an excursion, and I complained about having to walk all the way up Hillhouse Avenue to get to DUH.
But a point came at the beginning of sophomore year when I realized that I lived in New Haven and that it was high time I started to learn a little bit more about the city. It has proved to be a very rewarding task.
I remember arriving at Yale on my first day for FOOT and running into a friend of mine who had graduated the previous May. Walking over to meet my FOOT group on Old Campus, we passed Krauszer’s on York Street where she stopped to get a drink, joking that my class would be among the first who would think of Krauszer’s only as Krauszer’s and not as Wawa. Apparently, the small grocery store had been replaced a few years before.
So it was within the first five minutes of my arrival on campus that I realized that New Haven was a rapidly changing city. In fact, freshman year would witness the transformation of Broadway from a sparsely-populated main street into a vibrant town center. Gourmet Heaven opened, with its all-night service and copious, though slightly overpriced, snacks. A One Pizza on Broadway appeared next door for take-out grilled cheese and late night pancakes. Then came Urban Outfitters, J. Crew and Alexia Crawford — all within a 10-month span.
Of course all of these changes bring with them their own host of controversy and debate, but debate that is important to understanding the complexities of urban development. New Haven has taught me a lot about cities. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of gated community and urban reality. Yet while it may be a city with its share of failed city planning projects and homelessness, New Haven has a lot to offer if you’re willing to walk a few blocks past Commons, Claire’s and Cosi.
It doesn’t take that much adventurousness to discover that Adulis is not the only Ethiopian option in town and that the beach is closer than you might think. All it requires is that you love your new home and treat it like one.
Kate Heinzelman is a junior in Davenport College.