New Haven Green
Center of New Haven, bordered by College, Chapel, Church and Elm streets
New Haven, CT
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
A 17th century town green, cited by numerous historical organizations as one of the most beautiful public greens in the country.
While the Green certainly does not lack for soft grass and shady trees, its most extraordinary feature is the wealth of activity that transpires around its edges. To the west, on College Street, lie the outskirts of Yale University's campus. The north and east sides (Elm Street and Church Street, respectively) are home to numerous civic institutions, including the New Haven Public Library, federal and state court buildings, and City Hall. To the south one finds the enticements of Chapel Street, the main artery of New Haven's commerce and culture. The Green itself is home to three historic churches that line its north-south axis, Temple Street.
The Green also serves as the venue for many concerts and events, including the New Haven Jazz Festival and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas (both free to the public). The Green is often overflowing with visitors on these occasions, and since New Haven is not that large, it can seem like the entire city is out enjoying the spectacle.
The confluence of activity and uses gives the Green an overwhelming sense of centrality and civic significance. A routine walk through the Green often feels like a historically evocative experience. For all the changes that have been made to its surroundings, the Green still embodies the spirit of the Puritan's simple town plan.
History & Background
The original town plan of New Haven, circa 1640, was based on a grid of nine squares. In accordance with old English custom, the central square, now the Green, was designated a public common.