First of all, let me say that I am by no means an expert in New Haven. But it turns out that any idiot can start up a blog and just start typing so here we are.
I’ve been in New Haven for about six and a half years and in that time, I’ve learned quite a few things about New Haven. I’m going to share some of them with you. Not all of them, though. I don’t want you ruining everything.
I know, I know. It probably didn’t even occur to you that some of us live here on purpose. It probably seems unfathomable that someone would look at this city and think something other than, “Well at least I’ll get a degree from Yale.”
I saw a sign recently indicating that Yalies should remember to tip their bartenders/wait staff/baristas. Honestly if you don’t know about tipping by now it’s probably too late for you anyway.
(Or you’re European and it’s not your fault.)
So allow me to drop some knowledge on you New Haven newbies (are people still saying that?)
Get a Bike
New Haven is an eminently bikable city. It’s not totally insane like New York and it isn’t tremendously hilly. You can get almost anywhere by bike in less than 20 minutes. Fish markets (State Fish Market!), Meat Markets (Ferraro’s), Veggie Markets (Edge of the Woods!), even grocery stores without any actual employees (Stop & Shop, everyone).
Biking is also a great way to explore the city in a hard-to-hit situation. I haven’t been shot at more than a small handful of times. It’s just ’cause I ride really fast, you know?
The city is also establishing more protected bike lanes, like the new one at Long Wharf and the planned expansion on Edgewood connecting Westville to Downtown.
If You Don’t Use a U-Lock, Kiss That Pretty Bike Good-Bye
Of course, where there’s a bike, there’s a bike thief.
Don’t trust cable locks. They’re easy to cut. And then your bike will be gone. And you’ll be like “Ugh fuck New Haven.” But that shit happens in San Francisco, too, so just calm down.
Always lock your front wheel and frame together. Unless you’re just totally cool with buying front wheels all the time. Maybe you are. I don’t know you. Maybe they call you “Front Wheel McGee” where you’re from.
Also, lock it to the most solid thing you can find. Ideally, a bike rack or a parking meter. Signs should be used as a last resort cause they’re pretty removable.
Explore New Haven as a Whole
I know, I know. Your RA probably told you to never, ever venture past Barnes and Noble. I get it. It’s pretty scary out there. (Where I live.)
But New Haven isn’t just Downtown, East Rock, and Wooster Square. Sure, those places are great. I love them.
But there’s also City Point, home to the wonderful Shell & Bones restaurant, right on the water.
Or East Shore, with its seaside parks and the beach at Lighthouse Point, with free parking for those with cars registered in New Haven (you can also catch the G bus there, check out the TransitApp).
Westville is Brunch Central, with Bella’s, Lena’s, and Manjares. (RIP Delaney’s, from which we have never recovered.)
Go have a picnic at the top of East Rock. It’s cheap AND beautiful.
Don’t be afraid to ride your bike down Grand Ave through Fair Haven, where a vibrant culture provides a variety of colorful storefronts and restaurants.
Heck, even Dixwell and Newhalville, which most consider to be the dangerous parts of town, have great restaurants and neighborhoods full of New Haven residents who make up the mosaic of life here in the Elm City.
… But Keep Your Head Up
That being said, New Haven is not entirely without dangerous place. Most people here are mostly okay, I think?
Still, you should keep your wits about you. Try to look up from your iPhone every once in a while. Maybe even pay attention to where you’re walking. I don’t want to tell you what to do.
I know, I know. Every time there’s a robbery, you get this scary email from the Chief of Police telling you what happened and it’s all very terrifying. I know, I get them, too (and send them directly into Junk). But the truth is, most cities have lots of petty crime — you just don’t get an email every time someone has an iPhone stolen.
So, you know. Try to chill.
Explore Non-Yalie Bars
I get it, the drinks at GPSCY are super cheap. And you can hang out with other socially awkward people who are slowly starting to realize that anthropology isn’t much of a career path.
But there are a ton of great bars in New Haven.
If you wanna drink craft beer and play video games, there’s Barcade. If you want some lovely wine, there’s Barcelona. If you want a rooftop experience, check out Elm City Social. If you want dope ramen, check out Mecha Noodle. If you want chill music and vibes, check out FIrehouse 12. If you want punk rock, check out Three Sheets.
There’s something for everyone. But you might have to walk several blocks for it. (Sorry.)
Note: If you’re an undergrad, this isn’t applicable. Just keep getting Box 63 shut down, it’s cool.
It’s Okay to Jaywalk — Just Don’t Suck At It
Listen. Not every intersection really “needs” a walk signal. If you just pay attention, you can figure out when to cross.
But some of you Yalies are the worst all-time jaywalkers I’ve ever seen in my life. Just wandering into the streets, staring at your cell phones, with no regard to the cars hurdling in your direction.
Conversely, there’s no need to hit the walk signal on a totally barren intersection. Go ahead and just cross.
But pay attention. Please.
I don’t to kill you, your parents are rich.
Engage with the Community
The relationship between the City of New Haven and Yale could be described as… contentious. Part of that is that an inherent separate-ness.
Yalies have their own fancy free shuttle. Townies ride the public buses (just kidding, that’s just me).
Yalies have their own police, who I assume are issued your standard policeman monocle.
Yale slowly takes over a ton of downtown, kicking out bars and “undesirable” stores, replacing them with high-end outdoors shops (a Patagonia, seriously?).
But we’re more connected than you think. Whether it’s Yale graduates staying in New Haven to become a part of the community, or those of us from Connecticut (Go UConn!) who have found themselves in the employment of Yale.
Get out there and meet people. Attend community meetings. Vote in your local elections. Find out what’s going on around town (for instance, by visiting this blog).
New Haven is what you make of it. And most of that is the tremendous people here, fighting every day to make it a little better.
There’s room for a few more.[FBW]