Last time we discussed the “secret” ring road, the New Haven Redevelopment Agency’s plan to cordon off the downtown and Yale University within a circular system of roads highways and tunnels. The idea was to “gentrify” the area within the ring, pushing industrial areas and lower income communities to areas outside the ring.  However, they did not use that word since British sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term about a decade later in 1964. Gentrify is what they meant, though and justifying such a plan to the lower and middle income denizens of the area would be quite the task. Imagine having some suit from downtown come into your neighborhood and say you do not have the “right” to live there?  But justify they did, and they brought entire groups of citizens right along with them.

In this video, I will talk about the position the Chapel Square Mall had in their project. How many of us remember a lazy Saturday afternoon visiting the stores, stopping for an Orange Julius, and then maybe ending the day in Macy’s or Malley’s?  Little did my teenaged self who rummaged through the baubles at Pot Pourri, know that that Mall was erected on the back of a thriving neighborhood. Such was the case with urban redevelopment plans throughout the 1950s and 60s.

As we all know, the Mall failed to survive into the 21st century. The rise of suburban living, automobile culture and the exurban mega mall was its death knell. And all would be fine, except for the fact that so many were cruelly displaced in the name of a relatively short-lived experiment. I will be touching on this issue in a later video.

If you would like to watch this video on YouTube, here is the link.



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