New Haven Introduction Walk (Self Guided), New Haven

New Haven, Connecticut is widely known as the home to Yale University. However, the city isn't just a hip, university town. It is also full of history and sites that can't be found anywhere else.

The first planned city in the United States, New Haven boasts the easily maneuvered grid layout which makes it easy to navigate the city on foot. Situated at the center of this grid, New Haven Green park was an early marketplace for the Puritans who founded the city. Today, this spacious – 16-acre – space of greenery features art, monuments and regularly hosts various festivals.

Early on, New Haven was a co-capital of the state along with Hartford. It is no longer the administrative capital but does consider itself the "cultural capital" of the state. This is due to the booming art and music scene. Museums, like the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, are must see spots in the city.

Lovers of architecture are never disappointed when they visit New Haven. Gothic style architecture, like that found at the New Haven City Hall, meets Modern influences, like that of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Walking from one building to the next is pleasant and easy with plenty to see and do along the way.

Take this self-guided walking tour to see the most interesting and historical sites in New Haven.
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New Haven Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: New Haven Introduction Walk
Guide Location: USA » New Haven (See other walking tours in New Haven)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: AudreyB
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • New Haven Green
  • New Haven City Hall
  • New Haven Free Public Library
  • Grove Street Cemetery
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
  • Harkness Tower
  • Yale Center for British Art
  • Yale University Art Gallery
  • Louis' Lunch (Oldest Hamburger Restaurant)
  • Chapel Street
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New Haven Green

1) New Haven Green

New Haven Green is one of the oldest town greens in the United States. It was first established as a public marketplace in 1638. It later held a number of public buildings including a prison, a school and the First Methodist Church.

The 16-acre green is still home to three churches: the United Church on the Green, Center Church on the Green and Trinity Church on the Green. Each of these churches have unique architectural styles, which makes visiting them as part of a walking tour all the more interesting.

Structures along the perimeter of New Haven Green include a number of retail establishments and Yale University buildings and the Old Campus Courtyard. Likewise, visitors can see the New Haven Free Public Library, the New Haven Courthouse, the Richard C. Lee United States Courthouse and the Amistad Memorial.

New Haven Green is located in the center of the city. It is an excellent place to begin your walking tour.
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New Haven City Hall

2) New Haven City Hall

The New Haven City Hall and County Courthouse is located on Church Street off of the New Haven Green. Though the pair of buildings are often spoken of together, it is the City Hall that is the older of the two by a full decade.

Architect Henry Austin designed the New Haven City hall in 1861. The High Victorian Gothic architectural style is evidenced by the clock tower, arched windows and turrets. The clock tower that adorns the city hall is not original but was rebuilt in 1975 after having been taken down.

Visitors are welcome to view the City Hall during regular office hours. They can explore the building's exterior at any time. Of particular note is the Amistad Memorial, which is directly in front of the City Hall. This memorial was erected in 1992 as the City Hall housed the prison that held the Africans who were involved in the Amistad Incident.
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New Haven Free Public Library

3) New Haven Free Public Library

Located on the New Haven Green, the New Haven Free Public Library is a stunning example of Colonial Revival Style architecture. It is also a beautiful example of the importance of literacy and appreciating art.

The building was erected in 1911 using a design by Cass Gilbert. The small building was expanded in 1990 to allow space for its ever-growing collection and art displays. Locals may refer to the library as the Ives Memorial Library in honor of Mary Ives who donated $300,000 to the city to erect the building.

Visitors to the library can view the Ives Gallery, which has a rotating exhibit of various works of art. They will also find two large murals in the main hall. Tourists are welcome in the New Haven Free Public Library during regular open hours. They can enjoy the art and architecture or take advantage of one of the library's many free programs that are open to the public.
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Grove Street Cemetery

4) Grove Street Cemetery

Grove Street Cemetery is a famous and historic cemetery surrounded by the Yale University campus. Despite its location, the cemetery is not owned by Yale nor is it part of the university in any way.

This cemetery was established in 1796 when a yellow fever plague caused a number of fatalities that was so large that the city's central burying ground would not suffice. Originally, the cemetery was six acres in size. More space was bought and converted into burial ground over the years that has allowed it to triple in size.

Several prominent New Haven citizens are buried in the cemetery, including former Yale University presidents, New Haven mayors and Connecticut Governors. Among the famous graves are the ones of Charles Goodyear, Eli Whitney and Noah Webster.

Grove Street Cemetery was named a National Historic Landmark in 2000. It has also been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1997.

*** Amistad Freedom Trail ***
Among those interred here are the active members of the abolition movement, as well as those associated with the African American history. A stone marker was dedicated by the Amistad Committee in September 2001 in remembrance of the six Mende African captives of La Amistad buried here.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

5) Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (must see)

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is located on the Yale University campus in the Hewitt Quadrangle. The library, which was established in 1963, is one of the world's largest institutions devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts.

The building has a unique appearance that is indicative of its Modern style. Architect Gordon Bunshaft famously designed the building with thin, marble panels that filter indirect sunlight into the library in order to protect the rare manuscripts and books. The outstanding architecture is enhanced by the surrounding buildings, like the Lillian Goldman Law Library and Woolsey Hall, that have a more typically collegiate Beaux-Arts style.

Tourists may marvel at the design of the building, but if possible should plan to stop inside to see the golden light that spills in from the outside and the modernist sculptures by Isamu Naguchi. Though the bulk of the library is only available to Yale University faculty and students as well as visiting researchers, members of the public are typically permitted in exhibition hall, the ground floor and the mezzanine.

Beinecke holds one of the few copies of the original Gutenberg Bible. This is on display in the exhibition hall. John James Audubon's "Birds of America" is also permanently on display. Visitors can find the 1742 Library of Yale College on the ground floor. They will also see some of the earliest books published in the West with dates that go back to 1472.

Special exhibitions are offered throughout the year as well. Previous exhibitions have included modern photography, a focus on poetry and the display of the Declaration of Independence.

Why You Should Visit
- To see an original Gutenberg Bible
- To marvel at Modern architecture

Tips
Anyone wanting to see more than the exhibition hall will have to contact Beinecke in advance. Only approved researchers can enter the reading room, which is open by appointment only.

Operation hours: Monday to Thursday: 9 am – 7 pm; Friday: 9 am – 7 pm; (Only The Exhibition Gallery) Saturday: 12 pm – 5 pm.
6
Harkness Tower

6) Harkness Tower (must see)

Harkness Tower is a prominent Collegiate Gothic structure at Yale University. The tower was constructed between 1917 and 1921 as part of the Memorial Quadrangle donated to Yale by Anna M. Harkness in honor of her recently deceased son, Charles William Harkness, Yale class of 1883, and the second son of Stephen V. Harkness, an early investor in the company that became Standard Oil. It was designed by James Gamble Rogers, who designed many of Yale's "Collegiate Gothic" structures.

Rogers said his design for the tower was inspired by "Boston Stump," the 272-foot (83 m) tower of the parish church of St Botolph in Boston, England. The tower contains the Yale Memorial Carillon, a 54-bell carillon. It is a transposing instrument (the C bell sounds a concert B). Ten bells were installed in 1922; 44 were added in 1966. The instrument is played by members of a student-run group set up for the purpose, the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs, and selected guest carillonneurs.

Harkness Tower is 216 feet (66 m) tall, one foot for each year since Yale's founding at the time it was built. From a square base, it rises in stages to a double stone crown on an octagonal base, and at the top there are stone pinnacles. Harkness Tower is the second tallest free-standing stone structure in the country behind Washington Monument in Washington DC.

Harkness Tower is open to public. The tower balcony under the clock face offers a breathtaking view of the Yale campus and New Haven downtown. The tower is a Yale landmark and a must-see on your Yale itinerary.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Yale Center for British Art

7) Yale Center for British Art (must see)

A must see stop on any walking tour of New Haven is the Yale center for British Art. This museum has the largest collection of British art outside of the United Kingdom. Visitors can find paintings, sculptures, drawings and rare books and manuscripts on permanent display.

Philanthropist Paul Mellon gifted his collection of British art and an endowment to Yale University in 1966. This was the basis for the Yale Center for the art museum. The university chose to have the new building constructed close to the Yale University Art Gallery on Chapel Street near the Yale School of Art.

Architect Louis Kahn designed the building in a Modern architectural style utilizing glass and steel. The building is encased in glass, including skylights, because the architect wanted to allow in as much natural light as possible. The interior is a combination of natural materials like marble, oak and linen.

There are currently about 2,000 works on display. Some artists featured in the Yale Center for British Art include Thomas Gainsborough, George Stubbs, Joseph Wright, John Constable, William Blake and John Wootton. The museum also features works from non-British artists who spent significant time in the United Kingdom. Some of these artists include Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and James McNeill Whistler.

The museum typically offers free, docent-led tours to the public that cover both the art within the building and the architecture of the building itself. Visitors are also welcome to take part in special programming that is offered on a rotating basis throughout the year.

Why You Should Visit
- To see the largest collection of British art outside of Great Britain
- To pick up a souvenir at the museum shop

Tips
The Yale Center for British Art recommends that those who plan to visit this museum and the Yale University Art Gallery on the same day call both places in advance to ensure that docents are available for tours.

Operation hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am - 5 pm; Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm.
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Yale University Art Gallery

8) Yale University Art Gallery (must see)

The Yale University Art Gallery is located near the Old Campus Courtyard and less than two blocks from New Haven Green. It is an excellent place to spend a couple of hours or an entire afternoon. Every visitor to New Haven should stop by the Yale University Art Gallery for multiple reasons.

This gallery is the oldest art museum in the western hemisphere. It was established in 1832 after artist John Trumbull donated over 100 paintings to the university. His donated paintings include "Battle of Bunker Hill," "Declaration of Independence" and "Surrender of Lord Cornwallis," among others.

Trumbull also designed the original picture gallery, which was razed and replaced with a Tuscan Romanesque style building designed by Egerton Swartwout in 1928. It is now known as the Olde Yale Art Gallery Building.

The current main hall of the Yale University Art Gallery was designed by Louis Kahn in 1947. The Modern architectural style uses geometric shapes, including a tetrahedral ceiling and cylindrical staircase. This was the first Modernist building on the Yale University campus.

The gallery holds works from famed artists like Peter Paul Rubens, Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh. However, visitors won't just see European art. They will also be greeted with art from the Americas, Africa and Asia. The gallery has permanent exhibits of ancient art, sculpture, modern art and photography.

Traveling exhibits are often featured at the Yale University Art Gallery. Past exhibits have included a study on caricatures, ceremonial dress, global baroque and the art of light.

Why You Should Visit
- To see the oldest art gallery in the western hemisphere
- To bask in art from throughout the ages

Tips
Visitors are welcome to explore the gallery on their own. However, those seeking a docent-led tour should call in advance or check the website to ensure tours are available.

Operation hours: Tuesday to Friday: 10 am – 5 pm, Thursday until 8:00 pm (Sept–June); Saturday-Sunday 11 pm – 5 pm.
9
Louis' Lunch (Oldest Hamburger Restaurant)

9) Louis' Lunch (Oldest Hamburger Restaurant)

Louis' Lunch is not just any restaurant. It is the oldest hamburger restaurant in the United states. Established in 1892, Louis' Lunch claims to be the originator of the hamburger when a patron asked for a quick lunch that could be eaten by hand.

Though others also claim the invention of the hamburger, the Library of Congress recognizes Louis' Lunch as the originator.Louis' Lunch also claims to be one of the oldest family-run companies in the United States. It is currently owned and operated by the fourth generation of the Lassen family.

Tourists can enjoy a hamburger at Louis' Lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays. The menu also includes drinks, sides and homemade pie. Remember to bring some money as Louis' Lunch is a cash-only establishment.

Louis' Lunch is located on Crown Street near New Haven Green. It is within easy walking distance of the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art.
10
Chapel Street

10) Chapel Street

The Chapel Street historic district is 23 acres of history in the center of downtown New Haven. It is bordered by the Dwight Street historic district to the west and Yale University to the north.

The historic district includes buildings that date as far back as 1817. Some of these historic buildings include Warner Hall, built in 1892; Townsend Block, constructed in 1832; Trinity Church, built in 1868 and 1911's Taft Hotel.

Chapel Street is dotted with dining establishments, boutiques and unique spots to stop and enjoy. Walk through a park, find a new favorite musician at a music venues or even get a tattoo. Nearly every university town convenience and anomaly can be found on Chapel Street.

Chapel Street is a good place for a leisurely stroll in New Haven. Visitors can walk along Chapel Street to reach their next destination while also enjoying the historic district itself.

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