Although construction for the Schwarzman Center is still ongoing, students who returned to campus this fall found one completed project next to Beinecke Plaza — the new Wall Street pedestrian walkway.
The walkway currently spans the block of Wall Street between College and High Street. It features new pavement meant for pedestrians as well as benches and bike racks. There are plans in the works to continue the project by pedestrianizing a block of High Street and the next block of Wall Street over the summer of 2020. When completed, the walkway will span from York Street to College Street, as well as a block up toward Grove Street.
“The university chose to align the project’s implementation with that of the Schwarzman project in order to minimize the overall duration of disruption to this part of campus,” University spokesperson Karen Peart told the News.
Yale purchased the block of High Street and the two blocks of Wall Street from the city of New Haven in 2013, with the intention of replicating the pedestrianized Rose Walk in front of Sterling Memorial Library, according to Peart.
Willow Sylvester ’21 said she has been using the newly-placed benches on the walkway as an outdoor study spot. She noted that people have always walked on Wall Street even when it was open to traffic, so she believes it made sense to fully convert it.
“I think it lines up really well with the renovations of the Schwarzman Center, and it’s going to be a really nice area once that’s complete and there’s more traffic through there,” Sylvester said.
Although the construction this summer occurred with minimal disturbances, the original purchase of the streets was a contentious issue within New Haven’s Board of Alders, according to reports in the New Haven Independent.
Yale was granted de facto control over these stretches of Wall and High Streets in 1990, and since then has kept them closed to all traffic except deliveries, emergency vehicles and Yale-related vehicles with permission from the University. However, when Yale proposed officially buying the streets in 2013, many members of the Board of Alders cautioned against the permanency of a sale, including then-Ward 10 Alder and current Democratic mayoral candidate Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10. New Haven residents protested the sale and shut down the first attempt at a floor vote. But after much debate, the $3 million sale was approved.
Since then, construction proceedings have occurred without notable objections. The University officially sent a development permit application to the New Haven City Plan Department in April 2018, and the official plans were approved soon after.
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