About Us
       Site Help
       Contact Info
       DataCenter Info

            Site Search:
You are here: DataCenter > CT > Greater New Haven > New Haven
New Haven Green

Select a Green:

In 1638, members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony traveled south and settled New Haven. Under the direction of John Brockett, a town plot was laid out in the form of nine squares which comprises a half square acre area between the West and Mill Creeks at Quinnipiak harbor's mouth. The center square was reserved as common land and the other eight were allotted to the principal planters for their homes. The first meeting house was built in the center of this open space in 1640. Near it was the burying ground.

The common was first referred to in the town meetings when it was decided to chop the head off of Indian Nepaupuch accused of killing an Englishman and display it on a pole in the "Markett Place." It was again referred to in November 1639 when it was decided to build the meetinghouse. At that time, it was an uneven wooded slope, rough and irregular and scattered with "cobblestones." The middle and eastern areas of the common were low and marshy; alders and cattails grew everywhere. A small stream crossed it that ran down and into the East Creek.

New Haven's settlers valued the market place, and began to clear it slowly. By 1654, grass was planted and signs were posted to warn against removing grass for personal use. But even in 1665 when New Haven joined the Connecticut Colony, the green was generally sloping and treeless. It had scattered small unpainted market buildings everywhere and was also serving as a military training ground.

Over time, the green served as a site for several schoolhouses, statehouses, a watchouse, town pumps, meetinghouses, Sabbath-Day houses, whipping post and burial ground. Along with the three churches presently on the green, there also was a Methodist Church on the green in the second quarter of the 19th century.

It is believed that New Haven's first two elm trees were planted on Elm Street near Temple in front of the Reverend James Prierpont's house in 1686. More elms and sycamores were planted in the 1750s and 1780 for shade and to control drifting sand.

During the 18th century, the swamp had begun to fill in naturally. It was not until after the Revolutionary War, however, that the green was formally leveled. At this time, John Hillhouse undertook the project of removing the winding cow paths and flattening the green. Hillhouse also planted more trees and erected a wooden fence around it. On April 17, 1790, the day Benjamin Franklin died, the Franklin Elm was planted as a memorial. It was removed in the early 19th century. In 1800, a wooden fence was constructed around the green. It was replaced with the present cast iron and granite fence in 1846.

The burying ground on the green had continued to fill up and by 1780, it extended all the way to College Street and measured fifty yards square. The first cemetery in the country was chartered to relieve the green of this burden and burying ceased after 1797. By the 1820s all the grave markers were moved and a wooden fence that surrounded the burying ground was also taken down. It was also at this time that the land was filled to its present elevation. The City of New Haven continued to make improvements on the green throughout the nineteenth century. In 1839, for example, 150 maples and elms were planted on the western side of the green.

The Bennet Memorial Fountain was placed on the green in 1908. The classical marble fountain is modeled after the monument of Lysicrates in Athens. The Monument Flagstaff became the focal point of the Lower Green when it was erected in 1929. Dedicated to those from New Haven who died in World War I, the bronze and marble landmark was designed from a drawing by Douglas Orr, a New Haven architect. The Committee of Proprietors of the Common and Undivided Lands, a five-member group representing the original proprietors, have overseen the use of public land for the New Haven area since colonial times. They have typically discouraged placing monuments on the green. They continue to monitor the green today and it is maintained by New Haven's Parks Department. The green has recently undergone a major multi-million dollar facelift.

The New Haven Green Historic Landmark is one of the most celebrated greens in New England. Laid out when New Haven was established in 1638, it has remained the focus of religious and civic activity of the city. It remains an important place of public assembly on a regional and national level as well because of its association with Yale and its close proximity to the University.



Home | GreenLink | Exhibits | DataCenter | Service Desk
© 2001 TownGreens.com