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Vignette6-Oak Street, before demolition

Frontage Road between Park Street and Orange Street

159 Church St S, New Haven, CT 06510


In the 1950s, Mayor Richard C. Lee became one of the country’s most forward-facing proponents of urban renewal. His biggest plan drove through the heart of New Haven and broke apart tight knit communities forever.


From the leveling of downtown for the Oak Street Connector to the construction of I-95 through Wooster Square and Fair Haven, these efforts only accelerated white flight and the concentration of African-American and Latino populations in the Hill, Dixwell, and Fair Haven.


While this effort was to transform New Haven into the ‘model city,’ it failed to do so as it’s prescriptive nature solely focused on rehabilitating buildings and structures, not communities and people. In the process, the city’s once bustling downtown hub was hollowed out, as between eight hundred and twenty-two hundred businesses were lost.

The Oak Street connector instigated a major housing crisis, and this and the other urban renewal projects together displaced over 40% of the city’s Black residents.


Questions to Consider

As highways are massive, outdoor infrastructure, how can we design an intervention to cap these spaces and restitch the urban fabric?

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