New Yale students inevitably have lots of questions about the city of New Haven. Saturday’s Cityscape program was designed to answer many of these questions — and a lot more the students didn’t even know to ask.

Organized by Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, Cityscape is an annual program that acquaints freshmen with the city that is to be their home for the next four years. Begun in 1996 as a project by Chi Tschang ’98, Cityscape has become an enormous initiative program to allow freshman to discover the “happening” parts of New Haven, said Reginald Solomon, a program director for the Office of New Haven and State Affairs.

The goal of the program is to give freshmen a chance to step out of Yale and discover the many cultural and historical sights that New Haven has to offer, particularly those that many Yale students are not aware of. It also shows the participants some off-campus areas to get some much-needed relaxation and enjoyment. Hiking trails, beaches and restaurants are all a part of the tour.

The program also takes the students to new housing development projects in areas like Dixwell, as well as community centers, to give them a realistic first-hand experience of what neighborhoods in New Haven are like, Solomon said. The organizers hope that this will give the participants a sense of the community and encourage them to contribute actively in the life and advancement of the city.

Saturday’s tour ended with a reception in the Temple Street Courtyard, sponsored by local restaurants Playwright and Backroom at Bottega. Students received free T-shirts and had the opportunity to win prizes ranging from a mountain bike — for one lucky participant — to vouchers for restaurants and bookstores.

Tiffany Clay ’06, one of the participants, said she joined the program to learn more about New Haven, where to go as well as where not to.

“The program was very well organized, from the free T-shirts and dinner to the helpful PowerPoint presentation and videos,” she said. “The buses we rode in were nice, but it didn’t really allow us to get to know the area as much as we would have if we had taken the tour on foot. My tour guide was very knowledgeable, however, and now I have lots of ideas of great places to go with friends. Overall, I enjoyed the program and would strongly recommend it to all New Haven newcomers.”

Esther Young ’06, another participant, was disappointed she did not win the bike.

“But I got good food and good memories,” she said. “I even learned something about New Haven.”