New Haven is not a big city, but its distinguished reputation is well-known across the country. For Americans, 'New Haven' connotes intellectual brilliance, colonial tradition and, sometimes, controversy. It is the home of prestigious Yale University, the charter for which was granted in 1701. Having suffered a decline in population and the economy from the 1960s until the late 1990s, the recent revitalization of downtown New Haven owes its success to the initiatives of both the local government and Yale's own property management programme, despite historic disputes between 'town and gown'.
Today, New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut, but it remains steeped in history and elegance and retains the atmosphere of a much smaller town. It has more National Historic Landmarks than anywhere else in Connecticut. Walking along tree-lined Wooster Square, historic New Haven Green and the many leafy downtown streets, it is easy to understand how the 'Elm City' got its nickname. After visitors have taken in the beautiful vista of Long Island Sound and enjoyed hiking, biking and canoeing in the public parklands surrounding the city, New Haven's abundance of theatres, museums, music venues, restaurants, shops and nightlife options await. The Chapel Street Historic District buzzes with galleries, boutiques and bistros, and the newly redeveloped Broadway area is a shopper's heaven. The Shubert, Long Wharf and Yale Repertory Theaters are renowned for ground-breaking performances, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra is the fourth oldest in the country.
Yale, a member of the Ivy League, is one of the oldest universities in the country and one of the most distinguished in the world. Its beautiful campus is home to a wealth of stunning architectural achievements as well as multiple museums, exhibition spaces and theatres. Visitors might browse the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library or take in a performance of the Yale Glee Club. The Mead Visitor Center, located at 149 Elm Street, welcomes visitors from all over the world and is a good starting point. The centre offers free guided tours led by undergraduate students, but groups of 10 or more will need to book a private tour in advance.
Long Wharf Pier in New Haven is the homeport of the Freedom Schooner , a faithful recreation of the schooner involved in the 1839 Amistad Incident, in which a group of Africans being transported to the Caribbean as slaves revolted and took over the ship. The Amistad was seized by the US government, and the Africans eventually won their freedom in a landmark case before the US Supreme Court. Some will know the ship's story from Steven Spielberg's powerful 1997 film of the same name. Today, the replica ship sails the world on peace missions, but it is open to the public when it is in port at New Haven and gives visitors a chance to have a hands-on experience of history. Check out the official website listed below for information on where the schooner can be found.
The stunning exhibitions of the Peabody Museum of Natural History are sure to amaze visitors of all ages. In addition to the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, visitors can discover Egyptian mummies, sabre-toothed cats and Native American artefacts. Although the museum has all the old-fashioned staples of a natural history museum, efforts have been made to keep it modern and entertaining for children and there are a number of interactive stations in the Peabody. Multiple youth programmes are held during the summer and there are some temporary exhibitions and special events at the museum. Check out the official website listed below for more information.
New Haven enjoys something in between a humid continental and a humid subtropical climate, with four distinct seasons. New Haven's situation on Long Island Sound means that winters are milder, with less snow accumulation than inland, and summers are typically hot and humid. The coldest month is January, with temperatures averaging between 22°F (-5°C) and 37°F (3°C), while summer temperatures frequently exceed 90°F (32°C), although they usually average more comfortably around 77°F (25°C). Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.
The best times to visit New Haven are summer, when the New Haven Green comes alive in the evenings with the Music on the Green concert series, and autumn, when 'foliage season' in New England, complete with fresh apple cider, pumpkins and cranberries at the farm stands, attracts many visitors to the region.
Exploring New Haven by foot is enjoyable, particularly in the area surrounding the university. Various walking tours start from the Yale Visitor Center. The downtown area is serviced by a free electric trolley system, operating Monday to Saturday, and departing every 15 minutes or so between late morning and early evening. CTTRANSIT bus service is also available and the network covers most of the city. New Haven has been working to make parking more convenient and there are various off-street lots and garages. A Parcxmart card can be used to pay for metered on-street parking and is very useful for anybody hiring a car to get around New Haven and surrounding areas.
New Haven is a vibrant mixture of lofty academia, natural beauty, historic charm and fun student life. Its music and arts scene packs in more diversity and greater quality than perhaps any other city of its size in the US.
Young visitors to New Haven will love the lively student culture: they can dance until dawn in the Crown Street club district and relax the next day at one of the city's many coffeehouses. Less adventurous visitors can enjoy upscale shopping and fine dining, watch a free performance of the Elm Shakespeare Company in Edgerton Park, or visit the Peabody Museum of Natural History. For a taste of New England's seafaring history, visit the famous Freedom Schooner Amistad, which docks at Long Wharf Pier when it isn't voyaging around the world. Exploring the Yale University campus is an absolute must as the grounds encompass so much of the best architecture and scenery of the city, as well as enshrining much of its history.
No visit to New Haven would be complete, however, without sampling what, for many, is its most enjoyable traditional product: New Haven is the birthplace of the American pizza. Age-old contenders Sally's and Pepe's pizzerias, each with an army of fiercely loyal New Havenites, have been battling for the 'best pie' title for more than 60 years.
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