New Haven residents feel significantly better about their city today than they did three years ago, according to the results of a new survey.
The results of a study commissioned by Market New Haven — a nonprofit organization that works to improve the public’s appreciation for the city — show that 47 percent of the residents polled have a positive impression of New Haven while only 22 percent have a negative view. Twenty-seven percent had a neutral impression.
In 1998 however, only 35 percent had a positive impression while 28 percent had a negative one. The results were released at a press conference Thursday.
“The survey results affirm that our efforts to revitalize New Haven have quickly boosted our city’s image,” New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said. “There’s a lot going on in New Haven and people are noticing — and enjoying — its greatest features. We have come a long way and we welcome everyone to get acquainted with today’s New Haven.”
New Haven’s image has had the most significant turn around compared to Boston, Mass.; Baltimore, Md.; Providence, R.I.; Hartford, Stamford and Bridgeport, the report concluded.
“We are pleased at the number of people who are now recognizing what a great place New Haven is to live and to visit,” Yale President Richard Levin said. “Very few cities of our size have two nationally recognized repertory theatres, three symphony orchestras, the Shubert Theater, and two great art galleries, both free and open to the public, at Yale.”
The study showed that most New Haven residents see major improvements in cultural activities, the cleanliness of streets and the quality of shops and restaurants downtown. On average, residents go downtown on a monthly basis to shop and dine, according to the study.
“Business for us is still good [despite the national recession],” said Peter Indorf, owner of Peter Indorf Jewelers on Chapel Street. “It’s been very encouraging.”
The report showed that New Haven residents said safety, location of parking, and shops and restaurants are most important to their decision to visit downtown New Haven.
“We’ve done a lot of things right,” said Henry Fernandez, New Haven’s economic development administrator. “It’s not that we’re just doing a good job marketing, it’s that we have great things to market.”
Bruce Alexander, director of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, credited DeStefano and Levin with providing the impetus to achieve these exciting results.
“We all know New Haven is a city on the move and we all know it couldn’t be that without strong leadership,” Alexander said.
Leonid Rozenblit GRD ’04 of Prometheus Research, the firm commissioned to do the study, looked at the number of area residents who attended summer events on the New Haven Green. According to the study, one-third of area residents attended at least one summer event on the Green. Of those who attended an event, 57 percent attended more than one.
“There’s a real sense of comfort you get in New Haven,” Stosh Mintek ’03 said. “I spent a summer here and went to the Green for free concerts and festivals — they were amazing. It’s something that few communities can offer. I’m impressed with this city.”
Barbara Lamb, the city’s director of cultural affairs, said cultural attractions have traditionally drawn outsiders to New Haven.
“We want to continue to bring people to rediscover what New Haven has to offer culturally,” Lamb said.
The eight-minute telephone survey sampled 550 households randomly selected from 21 surrounding towns. The findings have a margin of error of 4 percent.
Pleased with the results of the study, DeStefano said he wants New Haven to continue to establish itself as a competitive, vibrant New England city and to become a national leader.
“The best thing is the curve we’re on,” DeStefano said. “People’s perception is catching up with the substance.”