New Haven: Learn About It!

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Because of COVID-19, almost everyone living on campus packed up to go home for break and the rest of the semester. I am only a week from finishing half of my senior year (crazy). But before I get there, I have a lot of writing to do.

Being at home and away from Yale has been nice: I finally get to spend time with my family. But I also already miss my friends and New Haven. This semester especially explored so many different and new places in and around New Haven. I  really learned to appreciate the community, places, and people that make the surrounding areas so vibrant, and that make New Haven––for many Yalies––feel like home. As a Yale student, I think it’s important to acknowledge and learn about the history of the place where I reside for much of the year.

My first year I took a class called “Race, Class, Gender in the American City,” in which we learned about the intersections of these identities and constructs in the U.S., and often in the city of New Haven. For this class I took a New Haven bus for the first time and saw so much more than the few blocks on campus. And through different classes and community members, I’ve learned more about the history between Yale and New Haven. This history isn’t perfect, far from it, given that Yale is a very wealthy, elite, predominantly white institution in a predominantly Black and Brown city and that the university and city alike were constructed on Indigenous lands of the Quinnipiac people. Connecticut itself is an Indigenous word, the state’s waterways and land stewarded for generations by the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Niantic, and other Algonquian speaking peoples. 

Language matters, and this history matters. Calling a place “home” also means recognizing those who have built it. The people of New Haven are very welcoming of Yale students and that is a privilege given how much space the university takes in downtown New Haven and surrounding areas. But Yale is not all new Haven has to offer! And I’m glad that I’ve realized that these last four years and made sure to tell friends, family, and others when they ask me “How’s Yale and New Haven?” So, below are some cool spots I like in New Haven––some are also part of the Yale campus––I’ve gotten to go to/learn more about their history, thinking about what my presence means in New Haven too.

As a NYC gal, I love that New Haven is such a walkable city, and a lot of these places I get to just by walking (I’ll admit some are further than others), a short uber ride, and a few times the New Haven local bus (which was harder to do this semester because of COVID). There are no entrance fees to any of the sites, and most of them are pretty scenic (although you might have to spend some money on transport). Disclaimer: the image in the entry to this post says it’ll take 6 hrs to walk to all of these places not to get to each one!:

Google Map Screenshot of all the following locations

East Rock Park, East Rock neighborhood

This park is located in the East Rock neighborhood in New Haven and is full of many trails and cool sites. My friends and I this semester went on a sunrise hike to East Rock (we got there at 6:42 am, three minutes before sunrise) and it’s beautiful because from the clifftop, you can see New Haven, Long Island Sound, and even Long Island. The walk and hike to the top of East Rock Park takes about 55 minutes (from main campus), but it’s totally worth it! The East Rock neighborhood is also home to a bunch of beloved food spots, like Nica’s Market and The Pantry.

East Rock Park

Views from East Rock Park

Wooster Square

Wooster Sq is a nice 15 minute walk from campus and is home to all the best, original New Haven pizza spots (Sally’s and Pepe’s). Wooster Square Park is also really nice to picnic or do work in and every Saturday the farmers’ market happens (the donuts are my favorite).

Picture at Wooster Sq    Cherry blossoms in full bloom in New Haven - New Haven Register
My dad when we got pizza at Pepe’s and ate it at Wooster Sq Park and the cherry blossoms in the Spring at the park

Farmington Canal Trail

I don’t have a clear picture of the trail but it’s really cool walking/biking that—when totally completed— will stretch more than 84 miles from Long Wharf (see below) to Northampton, MA. Most of the trail is already complete, so you can start right next to Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges and walk, run, or bike for more than 20 miles (I’ve only done about an hour of it). It’s a great space to clear your head and get away from campus, see nature and exploue different neighborhoods along the way.

Long Wharf

This is also a bit of a walk—about 40 minutes from campus, but the view on the boardwalk is beautiful, even at nighttime. The best spot in the Long Wharf area is the food trucks, aka Food Trucks Paradise. The tacos are heavenly and really, really good.

Lighthouse Point Park

Disclaimer: this spot is about a 17 min uber from campus (also accessible by bus) but it’s worth it! This park has a beachfront with a red lighthouse built in 1847. You can go swimming when it’s not cold (or do the polar plunge in the winter, I’ve never done it but some of my friends have). Also, the sunset views here are beautiful.

Sunset at Lighthouse Point Park

Fair Haven

Fair Haven is just past Wooster Sq, about a 30-35 minute walk from the main campus. It’s a culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhood and where I’ve found amazing, small Latinx businesses like El Coqui (La Casa Cultural caters a lot of food from here). From Fair Haven, you can see the Quinnipiac River (named after the Quinnipiac peoples).