The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven: Basic Facts

This is the fifth in a series of posts from Jessica’s Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven. Previous posts:

If you’re a recent transplant, here are a few quick facts about the city. Check out the links to news outlets to learn more.

  • New Haven has a strong mayor governmental structure paired with an elected Board of Aldermen. The current mayor, John DeStefano, is in his record-setting tenth term of office and has a large amount of control over the budget and appointees of the city, balanced by the 30 aldermen. That many aldermen (spread over a moderately-sized city of roughly 130,000) mean that representation is very neighborhood-specific and it can be difficult for any group to act as an effective check on mayoral control.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., shows his new Elm City Resident Card at New Haven City Hall. Photo source: Arnold Gold/New Haven Register, http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/07/24/news/new_haven/doc500f494fc0246793991800.txt

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., shows his new Elm City Resident Card at New Haven City Hall. Photo source: Arnold Gold/New Haven Register, http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/07/24/news/new_haven/doc500f494fc0246793991800.txt

  • Connecticut is a unique home for a city. Like many New England states, Connecticut was historically governed very locally. The state still has more than 160 incorporated towns within it, which means that each individual unit is responsible for its own municipal services and decisions. New Haven, then, has to work with many surrounding municipalities to implement any programs in its metropolitan area.
  • While New Haven has certainly had its share of crime over the years, it is often misrepresented in magazine lists, partly for the aforementioned reasons. Mark Abraham, who leads DataHaven, wrote a great response on Quora about exactly this: http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-crime-rate-in-New-Haven-CT
  • New Haven is trying some cool school reform right now. It’s always been known for its high number of magnet schools that specialize in everything from aquaculture to farming, and now New Haven is paving ground with its Promise scholarship program and its contract with the teachers’ union. To learn more, here are a few relevant articles:
    • “Can Public Schools Really Change?,” Slate (by local resident and writer Emily Bazelon) http://slate.me/Vbwt7e
  • The city is best understood as a collection of neighborhoods. The below image, from DataHaven, can be found in its original form at http://www.ctdatahaven.org/neighborhoodmap.php. Each area of the city has its own fairly distinct character, its own community management committee, and often its own website or set of events. I’ve also listed a few articles with more information.

map_neighborhood new haven

  • New Haven carries quite an urban renewal legacy. It received more per capita federal dollars for mid-twentieth-century urban renewal projects than any other U.S. city, added freeways where there were once neighborhoods, and turned parking garages into forms of art. There are more stories and articles here than I could possibly list, but if you are curious, there is a ton to learn about New Haven’s role as a “model city” for the rest of the nation and the ways in which that era permanently changed the face of the city.
    • For an excellent read on New Haven’s growth and decline in national context that doesn’t focus solely on urban renewal, I recommend Yale prof Doug Rae’s “City: Urbanism and its End.”

dougraecity

  • New Haven has been known for its fairly stable “eds and meds” economy since the collapse of its industrial base. Yale University and the Yale New Haven Hospital are the city’s two largest employers. There has also been a lot of investment recently in entrepreneurship and bioscience, culminating in the Science Park project, which allows for the reuse of the former 15-acre manufacturing site of the U.S. Repeating Arms Corporation as lab and office space.
  • Check out these high-quality media (or media-tied) sources for regular city news:
    • New Haven Independent (my personal fav, but as a former Urban Fellow who reported with them, I’m biased…still, I’d recommend setting it as your homepage if you’re serious about getting to know the city. It’s a nonprofit news org with a lifelong reporter at the helm. Also read the comments.)

New Haven Independent

    • New Haven Register (more traditional corporate-owned newspaper)
    • New Haven Advocate (alternative weekly – you can find it for free on many street corners)
    • SeeClickFix (a citizen-driven public 311 of sorts in website and app form. Other disclaimer: I worked here, too, so yes I do think they’re great.)

SeeClickFix

    • La Voz Hispana (Spanish language newspaper)
    • Channel 8 WTNH (local TV news)
    • Yale student publications like the New Journal and the Yale Daily News and Yale Herald regularly publish articles about the city
  • New Haven’s nickname of “Elm City” is no longer all that accurate. Many of the original elms that gave the city its name died due to Dutch Elm Disease, though some have been replanted, and there are many other trees that now line the city streets.

Sections that are still to come: get involved//email lists and more. Sign up here for email blasts from Roammeo that will include the new posts as they arrive! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get all of the updates. And download the Roammeo app to find the events going on in your city.

Congrats on your newfound expertise!

The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven: How to Get Around

This is the fifth in a series of posts from Jessica’s Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven. Previous posts:

Your noble steed awaits…even if he has been, we can agree, somewhat updated for the twenty-first century. These are a few of the easiest ways to get around the city.

  • Public buses: The public bus system is incredibly affordable and can take you almost anywhere that you need to go. The online trip planner on the http://www.cttransit.com/ website is especially helpful, though I still wish they had better live data on arrival times. If you are a frequent traveler, buy the 10-ride pass at a discount. There are booths on the Green that make it easy to purchase passes. (Yale students also have access to the free Yale shuttle.)

CT Transit Trip Planner

  • Zipcar: has cars scattered throughout New Haven. Not the cheapest option if you’re riding solo, but worth it if split between friends, especially since gas is included. Order your pass before you need it; it will take time to arrive in the mail.

Zipcar Search in New Haven

  • Walking: It’s underrated and devilishly efficient in this city full of one way streets.

Walking

  • Cycling: Rent a bike (the Spiderman tricycle is just one appealing option) from Devil’s Gear or use your own and join up with one of several cycling advocacy groups to learn the best routes.

Biking  in New Haven

 

  • Union Station: New Haven’s train station is close to downtown (even closer is the State Street Station stop on the MetroNorth) and has buses and trains that go from there to nearly everywhere else in the mid-Atlantic region. A commuter rail into New York City hovers around $13 and an hour forty minutes each way. There’s a free shuttle that runs to and from Union Station from the Green to help with the journey.
  • Taxis: Surprisingly reliable for an urban area. Hard to hail unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time, but they’ll usually come within 10-20 minutes of calling for them. The most popular company is Metro Taxi, which accepts credit cards and will call you upon arrival. Lucky for you, their number can be remembered at even the most – er – blurry moments: 203.777.7777.
  • Tweed New Haven Regional Airport: A regional airport that straddles New Haven and East Haven, Tweed is extremely convenient if you can find a flight that starts or ends there. Otherwise, you’ll be heading to Hartford, Newark, or NYC.
  • A word on parking: Don’t do it if you can walk, but it’s not the fire and brimstone experience that you might assume (what you’ve heard through the grapevine is at least half hyperbole.) Metered parking is available on most streets (and, at least last time I checked, were free on Sundays on most if not all streets), and Yale lots are free on weekends and not too poorly priced at other times. The only times the “driving around until you find something” strategy will not serve you well are during the summer festivals and free concerts and during university move in, move out, and Commencement. There are specific resources on this subject here: http://nhparking.com/ and here: http://www.visitnewhaven.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2973&Itemid=53. And Yale just released a comprehensive site of its own all about local transportation options! http://to.yale.edu/

Parking

  • More info: More tips on transportation can be found on the Car-Free New Haven website provided by Yale (http://to.yale.edu/car-free) and by stopping by the Info New Haven booth on the corner of the Green.

Sections that are still to come: basic urbanite facts//get involved//email lists and more. Sign up here for email blasts from Roammeo that will include the new posts as they arrive! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get all of the updates. And download the Roammeo app to find the events going on in your city.

Okay, excuses banished. Get a move on and into the city!

The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven: Destinations #2

This is the fourth in a series of posts from Jessica’s Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven. Previous posts:

Places or collections of places worth checking out in the Elm City. This is the second of two posts on destinations.

  • Theater: Catch affordable, amazing theater in New Haven with the following venues/companies:
    • Long Wharf Theater: founded in a vacant warehouse space facing the water, Long Wharf puts on regional theater and often hosts top-level performing talent.
    • Shubert Theater: The Shubert opened its doors in 1914 and quickly became known as a feeder to Broadway, hosting 300+ world premieres and 50 American premieres. These included A Streetcar Named Desire, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and the Sound of Music. Other performances brought in stars like Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Clark Gable, Gene Kelly, Robert Redford, James Earl Jones, and John Travolta. Now, the theater has become a destination for traveling shows as well as a leader in local arts programming.
    • Yale Repertory Theatre: A professional theatre that has also hosted its fair share of premieres and award winners. See visiting stars as well as local talent and take advantage of the student discount here: http://www.yalerep.org/.
    • Yale Cabaret: This is an incredibly intimate theater (you will be mere feet from the stage, with only a few dozen other audience members) full of experimental work created by students at the Yale School of Drama. Head there early for dinner and buy tickets here: http://yalecabaret.org/.
    • Free campus shows: Most of the universities in the area (and some high schools – Coop Arts and Humanities High School, I’m looking at you!) have regular free or very-low-cost student-run performances that are pretty high quality.
    • A Broken Umbrella Theatre: One of the coolest community-driven organizations in recent New Haven memory, A Broken Umbrella Theatre was founded by friends who worked together for years before ending up in New Haven. All shows are inspired by local history and have included such creative venues like the public library, a park, a tunnel, and a restored vaudeville theatre. Read more about what they’ve been up to here: http://abrokenumbrella.org/index.php.
  • Project Storefronts: A few years ago, New Haven, like many cities, found itself with lots of empty storefronts in some of its busier districts. Rather than let them sit empty, the city came up with a way to effectively lend storefronts to artists and small business owners with ideas on how to use the storefronts in “imaginative and innovative ways.” The results have been really interesting and can be found all around the city. Check out the description of the project here: http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/CulturalAffairs/CreativeEconomy/ProjectStorefront.asp and a list of the related events here: http://www.projectstorefrontsnewhaven.com/.
  • Karaoke: Karaoke Heroes, a recently-launched bar with public and private rooms (founded by a lawyer-turned-crooner from Yale, no less), has cornered the daily market here (http://karaokeheroes.net/). Black Bear and Rudy’s have also hosted karaoke nights in the past.
  • Coworking spaces: New Haven’s primary coworking spaces are the Grove and the Bourse. There’s also a new coworking, Grove-sponsored space for creatives: http://www.chetstone.com/.
  • Ninth Square: Like much of the city, the Ninth Square district (so named because it was one of the original nine squares of New Haven, which itself was the first planned city in America) grew as a heavily-industrialized area and declined for the same reason. The city decided to reinvest in it and it is now one of the cultural meccas of the city, with restaurants and startups and local storeowners and even its own series of events called On9 (http://www.on9newhaven.com/). The New York Times recently wrote about the Ninth Square district here: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/08/26/travel/20120826-SURFACING.html.
  • Wooster Square: Everyone in town knows Wooster Square for its Italian history and neighborhood traditions. Oh, and the pizza – definitely the pizza. A short walk across the bridge from downtown leads you to parks, churches, Italian restaurants and pastries a’plenty, cherry trees, and farmers’ markets.
  • State Street: State Street, especially Upper State Street, is a neighborhood full of local stores and eateries. You’ll find people who live in the area mingling with grad students from East Rock and office workers from downtown on a given weekday. Check out one website here: http://www.upperstatestreet.org/.
  • Grand Avenue: Home to historic houses and diverse populations, Grand Avenue has some of the best ethnic food in the city (try Ferraro’s Market http://www.ferraromarket.com/ourstory.htm for your shopping) and hosts many of New Haven’s nonprofits, including two personal favs, Junta and All Our Kin. An easy bus ride, walk, or bike ride from downtown that will take you down this main street and towards the river.
  • Westville: Any place that calls itself “Historic Westville Village” is bound to be tight-knit, artsy, kind of quirky, and welcoming. This neighborhood is a bit out of the center of New Haven but has its own warmth (and mmmm brunch places.) It’s also known for its support of creative types. http://www.westvillect.org/
  • Audubon: Formally zoned as an arts district, Audubon is recognizable for its brick buildings and walkable streets. You can take classes at the Creative Arts Workshop or Neighborhood Music School, drink coffee (or, at night, wine) at Koffee, and volunteer with the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. Here’s a list of some of the tenants: http://www.newhavenshops.com/p/audubonwhitney-district.html.
  • Stadiums/sports games: The Yale Bowl is the only one I can vouch for, but I’m sure there are others. The Bowl has its own role in history — in addition to being the largest amphitheater built since the Roman Colosseum, it has hosted concerts and may even have been the impetus for the naming of the Super Bowl. As this is a guide and not a term paper, I feel no qualms about linking you to this fairly well-cited Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yale_Bowl as well as this Yale article, which describes the bowl as having “mythical status”: http://www.yalebulldogs.com/information/facilities/yale_bowl/index.
  • Orchestras: The New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale School of Music, and Yale residential college orchestras all perform throughout the year and invite outside guests to perform with them. Tickets available on each respective group’s site.
  • Churches: New Haven was founded by English Puritans way back in 1638, so it’s no surprise that they built their city around church structures like Center Church on-the-Green and Trinity Church on the Green. You can find and tour old churches on and around the Green, and, of course, find newer buildings for followers of any other religion in town.
  • Cemetery: New Haven’s first burial place was right next to its first church – on the Green. There are still bodies buried there, but the primary cemetery in the city is the Grove Street Cemetery. It’s pretty historic in its own right and you can get a tour most days that will help you to find the graves of Eli Whitney, Noah Webster, Roger Sherman, Walter Camp, and more. Details here: http://www.grovestreetcemetery.org/.
  • Libraries: The New Haven Public Library was built in the grand ole civic style of its courthouses and it’s the best bet if you’re looking for a quiet place to browse books outside of the college campuses. You can also pay a regular membership fee for private access to the Institute Library, one of the last holdouts of an age of membership libraries (http://institutelibrary.org/).

Sections that are still to come: how to get around//basic urbanite facts//get involved//email lists and more. Sign up here for email blasts from Roammeo that will include the new posts as they arrive! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get all of the updates. And download the Roammeo app to find the events going on in your city.

Enjoy your 2013 adventures!

The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven: Destinations

This is the third in a series of posts from Jessica’s Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven. Previous posts:

Places or collections of places worth checking out in the Elm City. This part of the list is long enough that we’ll break it out into a two posts to make it easier to peruse.

  • Leitner Observatory: The Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium is open to the public with open viewing hours on Tuesday nights and planetarium shows multiple times a week, including Sunday afternoons. It’s walkable from downtown, but a car, shuttle, or bike might be helpful to get there faster. http://leitnerobservatory.org/.
  • Farmers’ Markets: There are five different farmers’ markets that happen around New Haven, each in a different neighborhood and at a different time. The stands accept cash, credit, and SNAP benefits. Most markets are seasonal, but the Wooster Square market (the first of the five to form) covers most of the year. Details and schedules can be found here: http://cityseed.org

Farmers MarketFarmers Market2

  • 360 State, Devil’s Gear, and the Elm City Market: 360 State is a recently-erected apartment highrise in downtown. It also houses Devil’s Gear, a favorite local bike shop, and the Elm City Market, a grocery coop owned by many members of the New Haven community.
  • Thrift stores: In need of something vintage or just unexpected? Check out Fashionista, the English Building Market, or the Salvation Army, all within walking distance of downtown.
  • Museums: Where some cities have a Starbucks on every corner (and don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of coffee shops), New Haven has a museum in nearly every neighborhood. Among those worth checking out:
  • Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop: On the site where Eli Whitney (a New Haven native) constructed the first American factory in 1798, this museum and workshop focuses on experiential learning and hands-on activities.
  • Yale Center for British Art: Houses the largest collection of British art outside the UK itself, and a landmark of architecture built by Louis Kahn. Free and open to the public.
  • Yale University Art Gallery: Also free and open to the public, the YUAG has incredible collections of art from around the world. Check out the regularly-scheduled speakers, tours, and exhibit openings here and at the YCBA.
  • New Haven Museum: Originally founded as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862, the New Haven Museum has its 150th anniversary this year. The museum has artifacts from across the city’s history, as well as private rooms of materials for researchers.
  • Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History: Check out its dinosaur skeletons, mummies, and 11 million more items in its collection of objects from nature.
  • Knights of Columbus: Located at the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, the city of the organization’s founding, this museum has primarily Catholic artwork and historical artifacts.
  • Trolley Museum: The Trolley Museum is located outside of New Haven proper, but it has a cool array of trolleys and streetcars from Connecticut.
  • Artspace: Artspace serves as a regular art display space as well as the organizer and host of the aforementioned City-Wide Open Studios.
  • Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library: Such a beautiful space. Such a beautiful Belle-worthy collection of books and manuscripts and art with meaning and history to lose yourself in. The famous authors in the Beinecke collection are too numerous to name, so you’re going to have to check them out for yourself in person, on the website, or on the Beinecke’s own social media feeds. Don’t miss this. It’s worth a visit for the marbled light alone.

Beinecke IMG_0560

  • Creative Arts Workshop: CAW is not a typical museum, but it does have exhibition space and studios in its building. It’s most known for the 300+ arts courses it offers to the community every year.
  • Restaurants: To list every great restaurant in New Haven would take a book. Fortunately, someone’s written one, and it’s called the Fearless Critic: http://www.fearlesscritic.com/newhaven. Alternatively, start with Yelp or the New Haven Restaurant Week list and work your way through. Louis’ Lunch (http://www.louislunch.com/) is a cult classic as the home of America’s first hamburger, as are the pizza places listed below for their historical significance. Don’t forget niche favorites like Miya’s Sushi and Mamoun’s, and be sure you’re up on the happy hour specials using Roammeo or other calendars.

Coop Sandwiches

  • Pizza tour: New Haven’s pizza/”apizza” is on most tourist lists of New Haven. Traditional leaders include Sally’s, Pepe’s, Modern, and Bar. Try the mashed potato pizza, clam pizza, or just the traditional. And if you’re looking for more historical eating spots, try Louis’ Lunch, inventor of the hamburger.
  • New Haven Food Tours: Choose from three different food tours to get a taste of all that New Haven has to offer. Details and dates here: http://tasteofnewhaven.com/events/
  • Colleges: There are a bunch of colleges to check out in the New Haven area. These include Albertus Magnus College, Gateway Community College, Yale University, Quinnipiac University, Southern Connecticut State University, University of Connecticut, and University of New Haven. Each one offers its own programs and events for visitors and residents.

SCSU PostSecret

  • Live music: Cafe Nine, Toad’s, Bar, Firehouse 12 (especially for jazz), Olde School Saloon and Bistro, and Stella Blues are all regular hosts of live music during the week.
  • City Hall and the County Courthouse: These two civic buildings are located on the edges of the New Haven Green. Observe court cases where possible, or sit in on Aldermanic meetings in City Hall.
  • The waterfront: Walk along Long Wharf and the New Haven Harbor or travel to Lighthouse Point. You can also walk along the banks of the Quinnipiac River. Take a sunset cruise (or themed cruises for fireworks, kids, etc.) and BYOB and BYOPicnic for a great ride on the harbor on one of the available schooners: http://www.schoonerinc.org/public-sails.html.

Schooner

Long Wharf IMG_0262

Sections that are still to come: the rest of destinations and venues//how to get around//basic urbanite facts//get involved//email lists and more. Sign up here for email blasts from Roammeo that will include the new posts as they arrive! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get all of the updates. And download the Roammeo app to find the events going on in your city.

Happy exploring, part #3, and happy New Year!

The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven: Parks and Outdoor Spaces

This is the second in a series of posts from Jessica’s Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven. Previous posts:

  • The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven: Events

The #1 landowner in the City of New Haven is the Parks Department. A whopping 17 percent of the city is set aside for parks of all kinds. If you’re craving green space, this section of the Guide has a few tips on where to find it.

Even more can be found at the website of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Trees or by signing up for the Yale Outdoors email list – they’re even known to go on treks across the rest of New England in addition to the ones in CT.

  • East Rock Park: You haven’t seen New Haven if you haven’t seen East Rock. This is true in a very real sense – hiking or driving to the summit of East Rock (or going on one of many student-led night runs there) allows you to see the entire city spread out below you. Picnic at the top and then head to the Pardee Rose Garden and Greenhouse on your way down – it’s a little-known plot of land with hundreds of roses everywhere you look and it’s a fairly romantic gazebo setting, as such things go.

East Rock summit

East Rock perch

  • West Rock Park: West Rock Nature Center is believed to be the first urban nature center in the country. What does that mean for you? Thanks to some citizens with a lot of foresight, the city now has 43 full acres of nature trails surrounding a rock ridge, ready for you to explore. It’s a great place for a sunrise hike.
  • Edgerton Gardens: Edgerton Gardens started as a traditional English estate and still has rock walls, gardens, and greenhouses on its property.
  • Lighthouse Point Park: There *is* a beach in New Haven. And a lighthouse. And a playground. And a carousel. And they are all located right here. (Sneaky moment of New Haven history: its harbor, which is part of the Long Island Sound, used to be a major part of the city’s identity, and British troops landed in the area during the Revolutionary War.)

Lighthouse Point Park playground DSC00729

  • Edgewood Park: Okay, just one more sneaky urban planning geeky moment of New Haven history. Edgewood Park was planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted as well as a niche celebrity in his own right – he also worked on projects in Acadia, the Everglades, and Yosemite National Park. For laypeople out there, that means he did a pretty bang-up jump in New Haven and designed the park to have a rose garden, a lily pond, and carriage drives. It’s a bit of a hike from downtown but worth it for a long walk or run.
  • Ice skating: Your two major options if you want to go ice skating in New Haven are the Ralph Walker rink (city-owned) and the Ingalls rink (Yale-owned.) Both offer public skating hours; I believe Walker is the only one that lets you rent skates.
  • Farmington Canal: 84 miles of railroad tracks are now a walkable/bikeable trail stretching from New Haven all the way to Massachusetts. Find your way to the starting point on the site: http://www.farmingtoncanal.org/.

Farmington Canal DSC05489 DSC05510

  • Marsh Botanical Garden: This eight-acre garden, which also includes six greenhouses, offers “tea and tour” visits to their extensive plant collection. It’s free to visit and can be easily explored with a group.

Extra tip! The Parks Department runs programs that are either free or very affordable throughout the year. Through them, you can go canoeing and kayaking; learn archery; go showshoeing; etc. Each park’s individual site has more details, and this site gives you a broad overview of offerings.

Sections that are still to come: destinations and venues//how to get around//basic urbanite facts//get involved//email lists and more. Sign up here for email blasts from Roammeo that will include the new posts as they arrive! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get all of the updates. And download the Roammeo app to find the events going on in your city.

Happy exploring, part #2!

The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven: Events

Post written by Jessica, Roammeo’s co-founder and CEO

Four years ago, I arrived in New Haven as a Yale student wanting to learn as much about my new city as possible. I spent time exploring neighborhoods, subscribing to local mailing lists, and working with community organizations.

I still have a lot to learn, but in the spirit of sharing knowledge (and in response to a few underclassmen friends’ requests for tips), I wrote up a list of some of my favorite events, places, and facts about New Haven and ran it by some other heavily-involved students for additional ideas. I may have gone a bit overboard compared to the initial requests…but it’s very hard to put all of the ties that make me feel a part of a community into words.

“The Utterly Unofficial Guide to New Haven for Students, Visitors, and General Urbanites” will be published on Roammeo’s blog in segments and can be found in its entirety in this Google Doc.

Please add comments to this post or edit the original document with your own thoughts – we’d love to see it grow over time. Also, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who helped to introduce me to their favorite corners of New Haven over the years. We started Roammeo to help people connect with the events and organizations around them, and you allowed me to do just that. And, as a reminder, if you’re looking for a central place to find all of these events as they happen, download the Roammeo app on iPhone or Android or visit our site here.

Enjoy one of my favorite cities!

Part One: Events

These are the things that come along once or twice a year and are so good you can’t possibly dream of missing them.

  • PechaKucha: PechaKucha was founded by designers in Tokyo as a way to share ideas succinctly and creatively, using 20 images on slides shown for 20 seconds each. PechaKucha now happens in hundreds of cities around the world, including New Haven, and the schedule can be found at http://pkn-newhaven.org/ (sign up for their newsletter to receive reminders!) You can go to watch and eat/drink at the Malaysian restaurant where it is usually hosted, or you can sign up to be one of the presenters yourself.
  • The International Festival of Arts & Ideas: IFAI is a 15-day festival each June that consists of dozens and dozens of free concerts, very smart lecturers, and public art displays. The vast majority of these concerts, shows, and speakers are completely free (and the best kind of free, meaning “pull your lawn chair and BYOB for a musical picnic on the Green”), and you can go to www.artidea.org to find the day’s schedule or sign up for their newsletter to learn more.

  • Restaurant Week: Twice a year, for a week each time, 30+ of New Haven’s best restaurants move to prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner. As a student, this was always my cue to try some of the places that I otherwise couldn’t easily afford, and I was never disappointed. Just be sure to compare menus, especially lunch ones, with prix fixe and regular to see where you’ll be getting the biggest bang for your buck when you visit. Here’s the site for New Haven’s Restaurant Week (it’s updated each season): http://www.downtownnewhaven.com/?q=restaurantweek, and for other Connecticut-based Restaurant Weeks go here: http://www.connecticutrestaurantweek.com/.
  • Cluefest: It is difficult to describe the amount of insanity and fun wrapped up in Cluefest. It is New Haven’s annual city-wide scavenger hunt, organized entirely by local volunteers through TGWNN, and it is now in its tenth year. Getting involved is free, you get prizes for spirit, speed in solving clues, and wacky costumes, and the whole day ends in a massive celebration that you can only find if you decipher the riddle. Last year more than 300 people participated, including many Yale students, and this year’s details can be found here (Cluefest traditionally happens in July): https://sites.google.com/site/newhavencluefest/cluefest-new-haven.
  • City Wide Open Studios: Artspace, a (you-guessed-it) art-related nonprofit in downtown New Haven, hosts this month-long event twice a year. During CWOS, dozens of artists put up their art in temporary exhibition spaces in more than 60 locations around the city, and viewers can hop from studio to studio across the city (or take one of the more-organized tours) each weekend. See http://www.cwos.org/ for more.
  • CT Folk Festival: Like folk music? Good. Because New Haven just so happens to host the largest folk festival concert in the state every September in a park just a quick walk/shuttle ride away from campus! CT Folk also hosts Folk Music Fridays all around the city all year, so if this sparks your interest, you should get your twang-embracing self over to http://www.ctfolk.com/ ASAP.

CT Folk Festival

  • Flights of Fancy: Every few months, you can sign up for a night called “Flights of Fancy.” For $10, you get an unlimited number of wine tastings in storefronts all around downtown, along with a chance to win other raffle prizes and get discounts (this author won a $50 restaurant gift certificate to go along with her free “Flights of Fancy” wine glass, for example.) Be prepared to get incredibly tipsy and to have a blast (the two normally go together.) 21+.
  • Holiday Tree Lighting: Each winter, the Holiday Tree Lighting (with a corresponding giant menorah) takes place on the New Haven Green. There are sleigh rides, free hot cocoa, caroling, and a giant mailbox where you can create, decorate, and mail your letters to Santa.

Holiday tree

  • Summer concerts: Throughout the summer, you can attend free concerts out on the Green. Headliners tend to play at nights, while smaller blues and jazz artists participate in the Blues, Berries, and Jam lunchtime series.
  • Shakespeare in the Park: Each August, a local theater company called Elm Shakespeare puts on one of the Bard’s plays outside in the park. It’s free and usually draws hundreds of picnic blankets for the dusk-time performances. Site here: http://elmshakespeare.org/.
  • New Haven Open at Yale: The New Haven Open is an international tennis tournament that features many of the top players in the world playing in New Haven for about a week each August. It conveniently matches the timing of the New Haven Food and Wine Festival, so it’s definitely worth a visit to town as a spectator. Site here: http://www.newhavenopen.com/.
  • Audubon Arts on the Edge: This is a family-friendly, one-day street fair that happens each June and features food, music/dance/art performances, and interactive crafts. Stop by if you’re in the area, or serve as a volunteer. Details can be found at: http://www.newhavenarts.org/programs/special/audubonarts.html.

Arts on the Edge

  • Cherry Blossom Festival: D.C. isn’t the only one with cherry blossoms! Head to New Haven’s historic Wooster Square in April to see the streets coated in pink petals and to watch live bands, eat (generally Italian!) food, and meet and greet the rest of the neighborhood. This coming spring will be the 40th Annual Cherry Blossom Fest: http://www.historicwoostersquare.org/cherryblossomfestival.html.
  • Outdoor Movies in East Rock Park: Friends of East Rock Park (http://www.friendsofeastrockpark.org/) hosts outdoor movie nights regularly during the warm summer and spring months. Occasionally you can find outdoor movies in other areas of the city, such as Chatham Square and the Green – keep your eyes peeled.
  • Rock to Rock: You + bike + hundreds of other people + biking from West Rock to East Rock (two of New Haven’s major parks) + music + food = New Haven’s major Earth Day event. Last year, more than 500 people cycled their way across the city and helped to raise more than $50,000 for environmental orgs. http://rocktorock.org/.
  • Floating Dance Parties: I can tell you about them, but ultimately, this is one of those “you just have to be there and be dancing” kind of things. Run by Yale undergrads and publicized through an underground email mere hours before the event, FDPs occur when throngs of people show up at a predetermined location, turn on identical tracks on their music players, and have an outwardly-silent, inwardly-rocking dance party through the streets.
  • Spring Salvage: Each spring, thousands of Yalies move out of their dorms and leave many items of furniture and clothing behind. The university takes these items and offers them to the public all at once, with nonprofits getting first dibs and anyone else who is willing to show up early close behind, at the start of each summer. Details here: http://sustainability.yale.edu/salvage.
  • Elections: If you’re moving to New Haven, you should seriously consider bringing your vote along. It regularly splits red/blue as a state and has very close aldermanic races as a city.
  • BMAD: BMAD (Bethany Music and Dance) is contra dancing, fiddle playing, barn-raising, foot-stomping, and sometimes maypole-dancing hosted every few weeks at a local folk music homestead. It’ll require a car ride from the center of campus, but ZipCar or a nice friend should have you covered and it’s well worth the trip. Upcoming dates listed here: http://www.billthedancecaller.com/.
  • Santacon: You may know Santacon from its counterparts in other major cities, but in case you don’t, it’s when a ton of local residents dress up in Santa suits and go on a bar crawl that starts at – yes – 10am. Rules include: “Sing Christmas carols on command…Bagpipe Santa is sure to bring the plaid and the pipes.” More FAQs here: https://sites.google.com/site/newhavensantacon/.
  • College Night on Broadway: Shops in the Broadway district stay open late and offer lots of discounts during this semesterly event that brings college students from across the metropolitan area to enjoy deals, live music, free henna tattoos, and thousand dollar prizes to lucky winners. Also spotted here: the cupcake truck. Here’s a press release from the most recent event: http://news.yale.edu/2012/09/13/college-night-broadway-feature-discounted-shopping-and-more.

All pictures taken by Jess while in attendance at the aforementioned events. Note that I am an explorer…not so much an artist.

Sections that are still to come: parks and outdoor spaces//destinations and venues//how to get around//basic urbanite facts//get involved//email lists and more. Sign up here for email blasts from Roammeo that will include the new posts as they arrive! You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get all of the updates.

Roammeo is The Most Fun. Really.

Roammeo recently won one of MassChallenge's five community-sourced awards. As the winners of Most Fun Team in the incubator, we are assured that we now must provide beer and cheer for the rest of the office.

Roammeo recently won one of MassChallenge’s five community-sourced awards. As the winners of Most Fun Team in the incubator, we are pretty sure that we are now expected to provide beer and cheer for the rest of the office. Congrats, team, and thanks to MC for bringing us to Boston turf. Check out our app for a taste of our daily adventures, or visit us at our office to see our shiny new trophy in person.

‘Tis the season to release a huge App Store update!

Dear world explorers,

A release carol, to the tune of “Oh Holy Night”:

O 2.0!

Our release is finally ready.

It is the day of new features galore.

Long lay the bugs, from APIs unsteady

Till we dug in and we conquered the store.

A thrill of speed, the user, he rejoices

For yonder breaks new cities and more events!

Get out your phone

O see all new view choices

O Roammeo update

O Explore View, Map, and List

O Roammeo update!

O Roammeo, Roammeo update.

In layman’s terms, yes, this means there is a major new update in the store for both iPhone and Android devices. You will find new views, new ways of sorting through events by customizing your own interests, and thousands and thousands of new event options for Boston, Cambridge, and New Haven. New cities are on the way, so if you want yours at the top of our list, get in touch.

Explore View

Explore View

photo (2) photo (3) photo 2

We are incredibly excited about this, and if you haven’t tried Roammeo yet, now is the moment to do so. Let us know what you think, and happy start to the holidays!

Yours in rookie caroling,

Roammeo

Local guru: Vijay Nathan, Boston

Vijay

Foodie? Tech guru? Vijay Nathan straddles the two as the Boston-based cofounder of NoshOn.It, a daily dose of cooking inspiration and expert cooking advice from the world’s best chefs and food bloggers. As Chief Nosher, he aims to help people realize that anyone can achieve great food in their own kitchen. Roammeo intern Carlos “CJ” Acosta talked with Nathan about his love of sizzling bacon, ethnic foods, and combined food-tech expertise.

Q: Tell me a little bit more about NoshOn.It.

NoshOn.it is your daily dose of cooking inspiration. Every day we send you one handpicked recipe from one amazing chef and one expert-cooking tip to help you step up your game in the kitchen.

The whole idea behind NoshOn.it is that there are many people out there who want to be able to put together great handmade food on the table each and every night but they just need a little help figuring out what to make and how to make it.

Our ultimate goal is to, over time, help people to cook more really good food at home.

I’m a big believer that great home cooking is within everyone’s reach.

Q: When did you get to Boston? How did you become a food/tech entrepreneur in Boston?

I went to college at Tufts and graduated back in 2006. I left to San Francisco and then moved back to Boston about a year ago.

I’ve been in the food space for a while and started out as a professional cook. I’ve worked in restaurants, wineries, and have done a little bit of everything in the food and drink scene. The passion for helping people cook plus the tech element, which is somewhat of my generation, came to me while I was working on this.

As far as food/tech entrepreneurs, there’s not many of us here. Boston is a great tech center and a pretty good food center, but combined they don’t work that well. There’s a lot happening on both sides, and there are a couple of us trying to bring everything together.

Q: How would you describe the foodie scene here?

It is a very interesting question because I think it has different pockets. The obvious one, and my favorite one of the Boston food scene, is all the ethnic food, especially all of the Asian food. There’s so much here. You can get everything from Chinese to Vietnamese to Korean to Japanese. It’s all here and it is pretty damn good and authentic. And the best thing is you don’t have to break the bank.

I think all the ethnic stuff is because of all the students coming in and the people who are from here get to benefit from all of this amazing food.

On the other side, there are cool restaurants that have been around for a very long time that are more expensive and higher-end but that are starting to reinvent themselves to appeal to the crowd of young professionals going out and looking for very high quality food.

Another thing particular to the Boston foodie scene is that there’s a focus on local. People like using products that are from Boston – within a stone throw from it. That goes from food products all the way to beer. It’s crazy. It’s good that restaurants have embraced this. People care about what they put into their bodies.

Q: Yeah, people get passionate about local, especially about beer…

Yeah. When I think about beer in Boston, it’s like every time it gets even more local. The radius gets smaller. It used to be local when something was anywhere in MA. Now local is literally from Framingham or Somerville or Fort Points. We’re talking in the city of Boston. And I think that’s very very cool.

Q: What are some events that you have been to in the region? What are some recurring food events in Boston that people just cannot miss?

During the summer I love the SoWa Open Market.  It is a part Artisan market, part farmers market part food truck festival kind of thing. And every Sunday it is just awesome.

As far as beer events go, any of the Beer Advocate (http://beeradvocate.com/) events are a must go to, especially the American Craft Beer Fest in the summer. It’s next to the World Trade Center and it is awesome. One of the best beer festivals I’ve ever been to.

To stay tuned with other Boston food scene events there’s a great newsletter from Boston Chefs. It is an insider’s deal of what is going on in the local restaurant scene. Every week they share everything that’s going on in restaurants. Like who’s doing a dollar night oysters or who’s doing a special dinner around some theme. You can find all of it there.

One thing that you want to do and haven’t yet?

One thing that I would love to do and haven’t done yet: The Gallows will roast a whole pig dinner if you organize it ahead of time. And that sounds very cool to me. I would like to get a group together and do that.

From a food perspective, what’s your favorite neighborhood in Boston/Cambridge?

Whoa… that is a good question. I would have to say Boston because I will travel for food. That’s putting me in a corner to choose. I eat a lot round Allston, South End, and Chinatown but I go to Cambridge too. The reason I pick Boston is because there’s a lot of ethnic food.  I like findings holes in the wall, those little places that aren’t necessarily the most familiar to people, hidden gems.

What’s one thing that’s guaranteed to get you out of bed/off the couch?

It would have to be the smell of roasting pork. Whether it’s bacon or whatever, if I get a smell like that I’ll be up.

Local guru: Alena Gribskov, New Haven

Alena Gribskov has worn many hats during her explorations of New Haven. She first came here as a student and then, several years later, returned to the city as a young professional to head up much of the outreach and programming at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Now, she’s a regular participant in the city’s marquee scavenger hunt, a pilates enthusiast, and an organizer of “speed networking,” a sort of speed-dating-for-entrepreneurs event that happens regularly at YEI.

Q: What is an upcoming event at YEI that you would recommend?

On Thursday, December 6th, we’ll be hosting a dinner for Yale students with Josh Koppel, the cofounder of Scrollmotion, a software company that creates enterprise apps for mobile and tablet platforms. He’ll be talking about his experience starting a venture in the mobile space, which is growing phenomenally right now.

Q: When did you get to New Haven? How did you start to become part of the community here?

I moved back to New Haven about two years ago. I went to school here, but living in the city is a totally different experience. I started off by finding a great fitness studio, Sarah Aldrich Pilates, and checking out the City Seed farmers’ market every Saturday. Even though New Haven is a city, it is small enough that you…quickly start seeing familiar faces wherever you go – can’t beat that!

Q: What’s a must-do annual event in New Haven?

One of my favorite events is Cluefest, a city-wide scavenger hunt hosted every summer. Costumed teams race around to different points in the city by bike, car, and even party bus, solving clues about New Haven culture and history. It’s a great way to discover new places and meet new people. The most enthusiastic and positive team wins the coveted Spirit Award, which really sets the tone.

Q: How do you normally find out about new events?

As many ways as I can! I find out about the best events from Roammeo, Twitter (the #nhv hashtag is great!), and email lists. Whenever I go to an event I enjoy, I make sure to get plugged into whatever system they use so I can hear about their next ones.

Q: What’s the best event you’ve stumbled into?

I fortuitously discovered one of the first Flights of Fancy wine-tasting events downtown. It’s a really fun evening – shops around downtown each offer wine for tasting as well as a discount, and it’s a great excuse to get a bunch of friends together, try new wines, and get some shopping done. Now I try to go every time it’s held.

Q: What’s the hardest event you’ve ever had to host?

The trickiest events we host at YEI are ones with complicated logistics, but they are also among the most rewarding.

Our “Startup Speed Networking” events, which are essentially speed dating for student entrepreneurs searching for cofounders, take a lot of work on the backend. We make sure to advertise to a variety of student populations – to get a mix of business and technical cofounders, for instance – then try to divide them up into groups that make the most sense for networking…

Last year, we had over 100 students participate in speed networking at YEI, and we got a lot of great feedback about the energy of the events and the diversity of students there.

Q: What’s a good organization that people shouldn’t overlook?

I’ve been enjoying the monthly event series hosted by On9 that highlight the up-and-coming Ninth Square district in New Haven. In the last few years, there has been a wave of new businesses opening, including a cooperative grocery store, several fitness studios and salons, and more.

Last month’s theme was “Create On9,” showcasing the creative offerings of the neighborhood, and next month’s is “Shine On9,” just in time for the holidays.

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