Yale University Walking Tour, New Haven

Yale University Walking Tour (Self Guided), New Haven

Perhaps the main attraction that puts the picturesque town of New Haven, Connecticut, on the international tourist map is Yale University. Founded in 1701, this esteemed educational institution ranks among the oldest and most prestigious in the United States.

In addition to its academic excellence, and because of its age, Yale boasts a great deal of architectural beauty. A diverse range of iconic sites affiliated with the university creates the allure that beckons both students and visitors alike to explore.

One of the standout landmarks at Yale is the Yale Art and Architecture Building, a masterpiece of modernist design that embodies the university's commitment to the arts and creativity. Nearby, the Yale Repertory Theatre showcases the university's vibrant theatrical scene, offering captivating performances year-round.

Harkness Tower, with its stunning Gothic architecture, stands tall as a symbol of Yale's tradition and prestige. Connecticut Hall, on the other hand, serves as a testament to Yale's historical significance, being one of the oldest surviving colonial college buildings in the country.

Welch Hall, Battell Chapel, Durfee Hall, and Sterling Memorial Library are all part of the campus's architectural charm, each contributing to the university's unique character. The Sterling Law Building, home to Yale Law School, is a hub of legal scholarship and innovation, while the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses priceless literary treasures.

Overall, Yale is a place where history and scholarship converge. As someone who appreciates the value of education and culture, you may wish to visit Yale University and experience the magic of its campus firsthand. It's a journey that promises to inspire and enrich your mind.
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Yale University Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Yale University Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » New Haven (See other walking tours in New Haven)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: AudreyB
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Yale Art and Architecture Building
  • Yale Repertory Theatre
  • Harkness Tower
  • Connecticut Hall
  • Welch Hall
  • Battell Chapel
  • Durfee Hall
  • Sterling Memorial Library
  • Sterling Law Building
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
  • Woolsey Hall
  • Silliman College
Yale Art and Architecture Building

1) Yale Art and Architecture Building

The Yale Art and Architecture Building (the "A & A Building") is one of the earliest and best known examples of Brutalist architecture in the United States. The building still houses Yale University's School of Architecture (it once also housed the School of Art). Designed by architect Paul Rudolph and completed in 1963, the complex building contains over thirty floor levels in its seven stories. The building is made of ribbed, bush-hammered concrete. The design was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin Administration Building, in Buffalo, NY and the later buildings of Le Corbusier.

When the building first opened, it was praised widely by critics and academics, and received several prestigious awards, including the Award of Honor by the American Institute of Architects. New York Times architecture critic, Ada Louise Huxtable, called it "a spectacular tour de force." As time went by, however, the critical reaction to the building became more negative. Architecture historian Nikolaus Pevsner bemoaned the structure's oppressive monumentality. A large fire on the night of June 14, 1969 caused extensive damage and during the repairs, many changes were made to Rudolph's original design. Appreciation of the structure has increased in recent years, with Yale investing $126 million for the building's renovation.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Yale Repertory Theatre

2) Yale Repertory Theatre

The Yale Repertory Theatre at Yale University was founded by Robert Brustein, dean of the Yale School of Drama in 1966, with the goal of facilitating a meaningful collaboration between theatre professionals and talented students. Located at the edge of Yale's main downtown campus, it occupies the former Calvary Baptist Church.

As head of "the Rep" from 1966 to 1979, Brustein brought professional actors to Yale each year to form a repertory company, and nurtured notable new authors including Athol Fugard. The more successful works were regularly transferred to commercial theaters.

Of the ninety world premieres the Rep has produced, four have won Pulitzer Prizes; ten productions have received Tony Awards after being transferred to Broadway, and the Yale Repertory Theatre was given a Drama Desk Special Award in 1988 and the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1991. In 2002, the Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre received the Governor's Arts Award from Governor John G. Rowland for artistic achievement and contribution to the arts in the state of Connecticut.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Harkness Tower

3) 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.
Connecticut Hall

4) Connecticut Hall

Connecticut Hall, formerly South Middle College, is a Georgian building on the Old Campus of Yale University. Completed in 1752, Connecticut Hall is the third-oldest of only seven surviving American colonial-era college buildings, and the second-oldest structure built for Yale College in New Haven.

Connecticut Hall is also one of the oldest buildings in Connecticut and the only remaining example of colonial-era architecture built at Yale University. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

It was originally a student dormitory, a function it retained for 200 years. Part of the first floor became home to the Yale College Dean's Office after 1905, and the full building was converted to departmental offices in the mid-twentieth century. It is currently used by the Department of Philosophy, and its third story contains a room for meetings of the Yale Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the academic faculty of Yale College and the Graduate School.

Connecticut Hall's notable residents include:

- Nathan Hale, American Revolutionary War spy
- David Humphries, aide-de-camp to George Washington
- Noah Porter, president of Yale College
- Theodore Woolsey, president of Yale College
- Noah Webster, author of the first American dictionary
- Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Welch Hall

5) Welch Hall

Welch Hall is a freshman dormitory at Yale University. The building is located on Yale University's Old Campus. Pierce N. Welch, an 1862 graduate of Yale College, Mrs. Cora Van Milligan, and Mrs. Grace M. Davies, heirs of Harmanus M. Welch, mayor of New Haven from 1860 to 1863, donated the building to Yale in 1891 in accordance with their father's wishes.

The architect Bruce Price designed the building. Welch Hall faces College Street and the New Haven Green on one side and the interior of Yale's Old Campus on the other. Carved above the first-floor windows at both ends of the College Street façade is the inscription AD 1891. The dormitory is Victorian English Collegiate in style and built of Longmeadow freestone. The building has been altered and renovated several times.

Welch Hall is currently occupied by Davenport College freshmen. It is considered among Yale students to be one of the more desirable freshman residence halls because it has many single bedrooms, large common rooms, and internal emergency exit doors without alarms, allowing residents to move freely between different parts of the building without having to go outside or through the basement.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Battell Chapel

6) Battell Chapel

Battell Chapel is the largest chapel of Yale University in New Haven. Built in 1874–76, it was funded primarily with gifts from Joseph Battell and other members of his family. The chapel is in High Victorian Gothic style of rough brown sandstone. It was the third of Yale's chapels and provided space for daily services, which were mandatory for Yale College students until 1926.

Together with Durfee Hall and Farnam Hall, the chapel was part of a program begun in the 1870s to build up the perimeter of Old Campus and separate it from the rest of the city. These three buildings, all by the same architect, were among the first at Yale to be named for donors rather than function, location, or legislative funding.

The Battell Chapel clock, with chimes consisting of five large bells that rang at each quarter hour, was at one time the clock to which others at Yale was synchronized; however, the chimes have been silent for years.

*** Amistad Freedom Trail ***
The Chapel symbolizes the role of the Yale Divinity School faculty and students played in helping the Mende Africans of La Amistad, and houses a themed exhibition maintained by Yale.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Durfee Hall

7) Durfee Hall

Durfee Hall is a freshman residential dormitory on the Old Campus of Yale University. Built in 1871, it is the second oldest residential building at Yale, only after Farnam Hall. Currently, the building is used to house first-year students of Morse College, who stay there for the duration of their freshman year before moving into Morse College proper.

Durfee Hall was completed in 1871 under the direction of Russell Sturgis, Jr. and named after the generous Yale benefactor Bradford M. C. Durfee. It was the second of a set of three buildings Sturgis designed that include Farnam Hall and Battell Chapel. The exterior of Durfee is covered in a combination of sandstone and bluestone, and is accentuated with gables, ornate turrets, and large brick chimneys.

The building was initially described simply as "large and costly." However, it was soon recognized as the defining piece of architecture on Yale's campus, and by the late 19th century, it was referred to by The New York Times as "the center of wealth at Yale" and as "one of the finest college dormitories in the United States."
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Sterling Memorial Library

8) Sterling Memorial Library

Sterling Memorial Library is the largest library at Yale University, containing over 4 million volumes. It is an example of Gothic revival architecture, designed by James Gamble Rogers, adorned with thousands of panes of stained glass created by G. Owen Bonawit. The Library has 15 levels, each with its own category of books.

In 1971, the adjoining underground Cross Campus Library was built. It was renovated and renamed to Bass Library in 2007 and connects to Sterling via an underground tunnel. Bass Library currently contains an additional 150,000 volumes. Although the original architect, Bertram Goodhue, originally intended Sterling to be taller and resemble the State Capitol Building in Lincoln, Nebraska, plans changed under the new architect James Gamble Rogers.

The main entrance of library is adorned with symbols and writings in various ancient languages, the work of architectural sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan who executed the designs produced by Lee Lawrie. The rest of the sculptures throughout the library; gargoyles and interior panels and ornamental designs were designed and executed by Rene Chambellan. The Nave is decorated with marble reliefs depicting Yale's founding and the history of New Haven and Connecticut.

The most famous detail about the construction of the library, however, is its windows. In total, there are some 3,300 hand-decorated windows in the library. They depict everything from fiction to history and even small insects on otherwise unadorned panes created to look real. In 2000, one former librarian published a book about the windows.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Sterling Law Building

9) Sterling Law Building

Sterling Law Building is the building of Yale Law School. It is located at 127 Wall Street, close to the downtown area, in the heart of the Yale campus. It occupies one city block between the Hall of Graduate Studies, the Beinecke Library, Sterling Library, and the Grove Street Cemetery.

The Sterling Law Building was built in 1931. Its model follows the English Inns of Court. In contains classrooms, offices, a law library, a dining hall, a day-care center, and a courtyard. The building is named after Yale alumnus and benefactor John William Sterling, name partner of the New York law firm Shearman & Sterling.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

10) 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

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.
Woolsey Hall

11) Woolsey Hall

Woolsey Hall is the primary auditorium at Yale University. With approximately 2,650 seats, it is the university's largest auditorium and hosts concerts, performances, and university ceremonies including the annual freshman convocation, senior baccalaureate, and presidential inaugurations.

During the 19th century, Yale became one of the largest higher education institutions in the world, establishing seven graduate and professional schools in addition to the undergraduate college founded in 1701. Although Yale was nominally organized as a university in 1887, its constituent schools remained mostly independent of the university administration, and they lacked any shared facilities. In 1896, Yale President Timothy Dwight V proposed the construction of a central dining hall and auditorium.

Succeeding Battell Chapel as the university's largest assembly space, the new hall was the university's first secular auditorium, coinciding with Arthur Twining Hadley's appointment as the first non-ordained person to lead the university.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Silliman College

12) Silliman College

Silliman College is a residential college at Yale University. It opened in September 1940 as the last of the original ten residential colleges, and includes buildings that were constructed as early as 1901. It is the largest college in terms of area, consisting of a full city block in New Haven, bordered by College, Wall, Grove and Temple Streets.

The older, Indiana limestone part of the college, consists of the Vanderbilt-Sheffield dormitories and Byers Hall, both originally part of the Sheffield Scientific School. The Van-Sheff portion of Silliman was built between 1903 and 1906 by architect Charles C. Haight in the Collegiate Gothic style. Byers Hall was built in 1903 and was designed by Hiss and Weekes architects in the modified French Renaissance Style.

The newer, Georgian brick portion of the college, which includes most of the core facilities and the Master's house, was completed in 1940 when the college was opened. Architect Eggers & Higgins designed this part of the college.

Due to Silliman's size, the college is able to house its freshmen in the college instead of on Yale's Old Campus, allowing first year students to immediately become immersed in the vibrant student life in Silliman. The College has links to Harvard's Pforzheimer House and Dudley House, as well as Trinity College, Cambridge and Brasenose College, Oxford.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in New Haven, Connecticut

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