The New Haven Redevelopment Association’s materials deposited their version of events in the New Haven Museum. As I sifted through the boxes, I read tribute after glowing tribute from Wooster Square residents.  Check out these quotes from Mary Hommans’ Wooster Square Design, a book that recorded and touted the accomplishments of the New Haven Redevelopment Agency:

Angie Iovanne (rehabbed home and funeral parlor), “People are spending money fixing up their homes and are happy doing it!” she says.  “It’s the greatest thing that could have happened to this neighborhood.  When we get through, this is going to be the best neighborhood in the city” (71)

Mrs. Rose Passariello, a Lyon street owner “The rehabilitation by everyone on the block made the street nicer and our houses much more comfortable.  In our house we have a completely new tile bath and modern kitchen.  We wouldn’t have invested so much in repairs in this house if we hadn’t been sure the neighborhood would be a safe investment, with everyone doing the work.” (71)

Not only are there glowing statements like these, but this improbable observation: 

In Wooster Square there appears to be no one who “just cannot afford to fix up his property”, to cite a questions frequently asked. We have found that if the owner has an income, including his rents, and is given plenty of time, there is usually is a way for him to do good work on his building. (90)

Clearly, there was another side to this story, one that I spent the next two years uncovering. Mindi Fullilove’s concept “rootshock,” which describes the individual and community upheaval people experience when their neighborhood is razed, became an important organizer for my work. While I have no doubt that some people were thrilled with low cost loans and the renovations done to their property, not all were so fortunate. Most experienced their entire neighborhoods razed and were forced to relocate elsewhere.
In this installation of Wooster Square Redevelopment, I will define “rootshock” and present the community’s recollections of the village that is no more.



Follow Us


Subscribe to Newsletter

Enter your email address to register to our newsletter subscription!