Founded in 1638 and located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of Long Island Sound, New Haven is part of the New York metropolitan area. With a population of almost 130,000, it is the second largest city in Connecticut (after Bridgeport). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.1 square miles, of which 1.4 square miles (6.67%) is water. New Haven’s best-known geographic features are its large deep harbor, and two reddish basalt trap rock ridges which rise to the northeast and northwest of the city core. These trap rocks are known respectively as East Rock and West Rock, and both serve as extensive parks.
Downtown New Haven
Downtown New Haven, occupied by nearly 7,000 residents, has a more residential character than most downtowns. The downtown area provides about half of the city’s jobs and half of its tax base and in recent years has become filled with dozens of new upscale restaurants. The city bills itself as the “Cultural Capital of Connecticut” for its supply of established theaters, museums, and music venues. This cultural richness is tied in large part to the presence of Yale University, which is located in downtown New Haven. Adjacent to Yale, at the center of downtown New Haven, sits The Green, with is a 16-acre green space that was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970 and is home to three churches and the location of many of the city’s cultural events.
Livability.com named New Haven as the Best Foodie City in the country in 2014. There are 56 Zagat-rated restaurants in New Haven, the most in Connecticut and the third most in New England (after Boston and Cambridge). More than 120 restaurants are located within two blocks of the New Haven Green. The city is home to an eclectic mix of ethnic restaurants and small markets specializing in various foreign foods. Represented cuisines include Malaysian, Ethiopian, Spanish, Belgian, French, Greek, Latin American, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Cuban, Peruvian, Syrian/Lebanese, and Turkish.
An additional gastronomical claim to fame is Louis’ Lunch, which is located in a small brick building on Crown Street and has been serving fast food since 1895. Though fiercely debated, the restaurant’s founder Louis Lassen is credited by the Library of Congress with inventing the hamburger and steak sandwich.
Theatres, Museums & Festivals
The city hosts numerous theatres and production houses, including the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Long Wharf Theatre, and the Shubert Theatre. There is also theatre activity from the Yale School of Drama and the student-run Yale Cabaret. Southern Connecticut State University hosts the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts. College Street Music Hall, formerly Palace Theatre (opposite the Shubert Theatre), opened in May, 2015. Smaller theatres include the Little Theater on Lincoln Street. Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School also boasts a state-of-the-art theatre on College Street. The theatre is used for student productions, and is the home to weekly services to a local non-denominational church, the City Church New Haven.
New Haven has a variety of museums, many of them associated with Yale. Among them is the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which features an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible. There is also the Connecticut Children’s Museum; the Knights of Columbus museum near that organization’s world headquarters; the Peabody Museum of Natural History; the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments; the Eli Whitney Museum (across the town line in Hamden, Connecticut, on Whitney Avenue); the Yale Center for British Art, which houses the largest collection of British art outside the U.K., and the Yale University Art Gallery, the nation’s oldest college art museum.
The New Haven Green is the site of many free music concerts, especially during the summer months. These have included the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the July Free Concerts on the Green in July, and the New Haven Jazz Festival in August. The Jazz Festival, which began in 1982, is one of the longest-running free outdoor festivals in the U.S., until it was canceled for 2007. Headliners such as The Breakfast, Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles and Celia Cruz have historically drawn 30,000 to 50,000 fans, filling up the New Haven Green to capacity. The New Haven Jazz Festival was revived in 2008 and has been sponsored since by Jazz Haven. In addition, New Haven serves as the home city of the annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas.
New Haven’s economy originally was based in manufacturing, but the postwar period brought rapid industrial decline. Simultaneously, the growth and expansion of Yale University further affected the economic shift. Today, over half of the city’s economy is now made up of services, in particular education and health care; Yale is the city’s largest employer, followed by Yale – New Haven Hospital. Other large employers include Southern Connecticut State University, Assa Abloy lock manufacturing, the Knights of Columbus headquarters, Higher One, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Covidien and United Illuminating.
New Haven is the birthplace of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, who was born when his father, former president George H. W. Bush, was living in New Haven while a student at Yale.