New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut (after Bridgeport), with a population of 129,779 people as of the 2010 United States Census. According to a census done by the Census Bureau as of July 1, 2012, the city had a population of 130,741. New Haven is the principal municipality in Greater New Haven, which had a total population of 862,477 in 2010. It is located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of the Long Island Sound in New Haven County, which in turn comprises the outer limits of the New York metropolitan area.
New Haven was founded in 1638 by English Puritans, and a year later eight streets were laid out in a four-by-four grid, creating what is now commonly known as the "Nine Square Plan", now recognized by the American Institute of Certified Planners as a National Planning Landmark. The central common block is New Haven Green, a square, now a National Historic Landmark and the center of Downtown New Haven.
New Haven is the home of Yale University. The university is an integral part of the city's economy, being New Haven's biggest taxpayer and employer. Health care (hospitals and biotechnology), professional services (legal, architectural, marketing, and engineering), financial services, and retail trade also help to form an economic base for the city.
The city served as co-capital of Connecticut from 1701 until 1873, when sole governance was transferred to the more centrally located city of Hartford. New Haven has since billed itself as the "Cultural Capital of Connecticut" for its supply of established theaters, museums, and music venues.
New Haven had the first public tree planting program in America, producing a canopy of mature trees (including some large elms) that gave New Haven the nickname "The Elm City".
Pre-colonial and colonial
Before Europeans arrived, the New Haven area was the home of the Quinnipiac tribe of Native Americans, who lived in villages around the harbor and subsisted off local fisheries and the farming of maize. The area was briefly visited by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614. Dutch traders set up a small trading system of beaver pelts with the local inhabitants, but trade was sporadic and the Dutch did not settle permanently in the area.
In 1637 a small party of Puritans reconnoitered the New Haven harbor area and wintered over. In April 1638, the main party of five hundred Puritans who left the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the leadership of the Reverend John Davenport and the London merchant Theophilus Eaton sailed into the harbor. These settlers were hoping to establish a better theological community than the one they left in Massachusetts and sought to take advantage of the excellent port capabilities of the harbor. The Quinnipiacs, who were under attack by neighboring Pequots, sold their land to the settlers in return for protection.
By 1640, the town's theocratic government and nine-square grid plan were in place, and the town was renamed Newhaven from Quinnipiac. However, the area north of New Haven remained Quinnipiac until 1678, when it was renamed Hamden. The settlement became the headquarters of the New Haven Colony. At the time, the New Haven Colony was separate from the Connecticut Colony, which had been established to the north centering on Hartford. One of the principal differences between the two colonies was that the New Haven colony was an intolerant theocracy that did not permit other churches to be established, while the Connecticut colony permitted the establishment of other churches.
Economic disaster struck the colony in 1646, however, when the town sent its first fully loaded ship of local goods back to England. This ship never reached the Old World, and its disappearance stymied New Haven's development in the face of the rising trade power of Boston and New Amsterdam. In 1660, founder John Davenport's wishes were fulfilled, and Hopkins School was founded in New Haven with money from the estate of Edward Hopkins.
In 1661, the judges who had signed the death warrant of Charles I of England were pursued by Charles II. Two judges, Colonel Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe, fled to New Haven to seek refuge from the king's forces. John Davenport arranged for these "Regicides" to hide in the West Rock hills northwest of the town. A third judge, John Dixwell, joined the other regicides at a later time.
New Haven became part of the Connecticut Colony in 1664, when the two colonies were merged under political pressure from England, according to folklore as punishment for harboring the three judges (in reality, done in order to strengthen the case for the takeover of nearby New Amsterdam, which was rapidly losing territory to migrants from Connecticut). Some members of the New Haven Colony seeking to establish a new theocracy elsewhere went on to establish Newark, New Jersey.
It was made co-capital of Connecticut in 1701, a status it retained until 1873. In 1716, the Collegiate School relocated from Old Saybrook to New Haven and established New Haven as a center of learning. In 1718, the name of the Collegiate School was changed to Yale College in response to a large donation from British East India Company merchant Elihu Yale, former Governor of Madras.
For over a century, New Haven citizens had fought in the colonial militia alongside regular British forces, as in the French and Indian War. As the American Revolution approached, General David Wooster and other influential residents hoped that the conflict with the government in Britain could be resolved short of rebellion. On 23 April 1775, which is still celebrated in New Haven as Powder House Day, the Second Company, Governor's Foot Guard, of New Haven entered the struggle against the governing British parliament. Under Captain Benedict Arnold, they broke into the powder house to arm themselves and began a three-day march to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other New Haven militia members were on hand to escort George Washington from his overnight stay in New Haven on his way to Cambridge. Contemporary reports, from both sides, remark on the New Haven volunteers' professional military bearing, including uniforms.
On July 5, 1779, 2,600 loyalists and British regulars under General William Tryon, governor of New York, landed in New Haven Harbor and raided the 3,500-person town. A militia of Yale students had been prepping for battle, and former Yale president and Yale Divinity School professor Naphtali Daggett rode out to confront the Redcoats. Yale president Ezra Stiles recounted in his diary that while he moved furniture in anticipation of battle, he still couldn't quite believe the revolution had begun. New Haven was not torched as the invaders did with Danbury in 1777, or Fairfield and Norwalk a week after the New Haven raid, so many of the town's colonial features were preserved.
The city struck fortune in the late 18th century with the inventions and industrial activity of Eli Whitney, a Yale graduate who remained in New Haven to develop the cotton gin and establish a gun-manufacturing factory in the northern part of the city near the Hamden town line. That area is still known as Whitneyville, and the main road through both towns is known as Whitney Avenue. The factory is now the Eli Whitney Museum, which has a particular emphasis on activities for children and exhibits pertaining to the A. C. Gilbert Company. His factory, along with that of Simeon North, and the lively clock-making and brass hardware sectors, contributed to making early Connecticut a powerful manufacturing economy; so many arms manufacturers sprang up that the state became known as "The Arsenal of America". It was in Whitney's gun-manufacturing plant that Samuel Colt invented the automatic revolver in 1836. The Farmington Canal, created in the early 19th century, was a short-lived transporter of goods into the interior regions of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and ran from New Haven to Northampton, Massachusetts.
New Haven was home to one of the important early events in the burgeoning anti-slavery movement when, in 1839, the trial of mutineering Mende tribesmen being transported as slaves on the Spanish slaveship Amistad was held in New Haven's United States District Court. There is a statue of Joseph Cinqué, the informal leader of the slaves, beside City Hall. See "Museums" below for more information. Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech on slavery in New Haven in 1860, shortly before he secured the Republican nomination for President.
The American Civil War boosted the local economy with wartime purchases of industrial goods, including that of the New Haven Arms Company, which would later become the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. (Winchester would continue to produce arms in New Haven until 2006, and many of the buildings that were a part of the Winchester plant are now a part of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company Historic District.) After the war, population grew and doubled by the start of the 20th century, most notably due to the influx of immigrants from southern Europe, particularly Italy. Today, roughly half the populations of East Haven, West Haven, and North Haven are Italian-American. Jewish immigration to New Haven has left an enduring mark on the city. Westville was the center of Jewish life in New Haven, though today many have fanned out to suburban communities such as Woodbridge and Cheshire.
Late 20th century
New Haven's expansion continued during the two World Wars, with most new inhabitants being African Americans from the American South and Puerto Ricans. The city reached its peak population after World War II. The area of New Haven is only , encouraging further development of new housing after 1950 in adjacent, suburban towns. Moreover, as in other U.S. cities in the 1950s, New Haven began to suffer from an exodus of middle-class workers.
In 1954, then-mayor Richard C. Lee began some of the earliest major urban renewal projects in the United States. Certain sections of downtown New Haven were destroyed and rebuilt with new office towers, a hotel, and large shopping complexes. Other parts of the city were affected by the construction of Interstate 95 along the Long Wharf section, Interstate 91, and the Oak Street Connector. The Oak Street Connector (Route 34), running between Interstate 95, downtown, and The Hill neighborhood, was originally intended as a highway to the city's western suburbs but was only completed as a highway to the downtown area, with the area to the west becoming a boulevard (See "Redevelopment" below).
In 1970, a series of criminal prosecutions against various members of the Black Panther Party took place in New Haven, inciting mass protests on the New Haven Green involving twelve thousand demonstrators and many well-known New Left political activists. (See "Political Culture" below for more information).
From the 1960s through the late 1990s, central areas of New Haven continued to decline both economically and in terms of population despite attempts to resurrect certain neighborhoods through renewal projects. In conjunction with its declining population, New Haven experienced a steep rise in its crime rate. In 2010, New Haven ranked as the 18th most dangerous city in America, albeit with crime rating under the significant safety benchmark of 200.00.
Since approximately 2000, many parts of downtown New Haven have been revitalized, with new restaurants, nightlife, and small retail stores. In particular, the area surrounding the New Haven Green has experienced an influx of apartments and condominiums. In recent years, downtown retail options have increased with the opening of new stores such as Urban Oufitters, J Crew, Origins, American Apparel, Gant Clothing, and an Apple Store, joining older stores such as Barnes & Noble, Cutlers Records, and Raggs Clothing. In addition, downtown's growing residential population will be served by two new supermarkets, a Stop & Shop just outside of downtown and Elm City Market located one block from the Green. The recent turnaround of downtown New Haven has received positive press from various periodicals.
Major projects include the current construction of a new campus for Gateway Community College downtown, and also a 32-story, 500-unit apartment/retail building called 360 State Street. The 360 State Street project is now occupied and is the largest residential building in Connecticut. A new boathouse and dock is planned for New Haven Harbor, and the linear park Farmington Canal Trail is set to extend into downtown New Haven within the coming year. Additionally, foundation and ramp work to widen I-95 to create a new harbor crossing for New Haven, with an extradosed bridge to replace the 1950s-era Q Bridge, has begun. The city still hopes to redevelop the site of the New Haven Coliseum, which was demolished in 2007.
In April 2009, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a suit over reverse discrimination brought by 18 white firefighters against the city. The suit involved the 2003 promotion test for the New Haven Fire Department. After the tests were scored, no black firefighters scored high enough to qualify for consideration for promotion, so the city announced that no one would be promoted. In the subsequent Ricci v. DeStefano decision the court found 5-4 that New Haven's decision to ignore the test results violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a result, a district court subsequently ordered the city to promote 14 of the white firefighters.
In 2010 and 2011, state and federal funds were awarded to Connecticut (and Massachusetts) to construct the New Haven – Hartford – Springfield commuter rail line, with a southern terminus at New Haven's Union Station and a northern terminus at Springfield's Union Station. According to the White House, "This corridor [currently] has one train per day connecting communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts to the Northeast Corridor and Vermont. The vision for this corridor is to restore the alignment to its original route via the Knowledge Corridor in western Massachusetts, improving trip time and increasing the population base that can be served." Set for construction in 2013, the "Knowledge Corridor high speed intercity passenger rail" project will cost approximately $1 billion, and the ultimate northern terminus for the project is reported to be Montreal in Canada. Train speeds between will reportedly exceed and increase both cities' rail traffic exponentially.
Timeline of notable firsts
The Greater New Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau has a more extensive list of New Haven firsts.