I love New Haven.
Oh, sure, I hate it sometimes, too. Mostly when I wish I could easily hail a cab at 2:30 in the morning. But these are fleeting moments.
But I’ve written about that before. Today I want to celebrate New Haven. After all, today is it’s 376th Birthday, and she barely looks her age. Well, you know. Unless you actually look around.
So I thought I’d take a moment to appreciate all of the things that make New Haven a great place to visit and live.
Glorious, Glorious Food. Everywhere.
Oh, sure, you’ve heard about the ultra-thin-crust pizza. You know about Pepe’s world famous clam pizza. You know about rival Sally’s, known equally for their antagonistic service and delicious pies. You know about the “other” option, Modern, which many New Havenites proclaim “the best.”
Heck, you know about Bar, with its mashed potato and bacon pizza. You’ve seen people’s skepticism melt away into foodgasms. You’ve had to clean up the sticky mess. We all have regrets. But New Haven is more than just pizza.
Whether it’s the pristine beer selection and mouthwatering burgers at Prime 16, or the sustainable selection of sushi fusion at Miya’s Sushi (where Firecracke Sake prices continue to soar due to Bun Lai’s goddamned popularity, and yet remain totally fucking worth it), New Haven has something for everyone.
I don’t even know how a city of New Haven’s size supports so many restaurants. But I am eternally grateful for places like Caseus, with their farm-fresh take on bistro food and impeccable service. Or L’Orcio’s tres romantique back patio, which is great for tricking people into thinking you totally have class. Or the glory that is “like-Chipotle-but-for-Indian” Tikkaway Grill (seriously, go fucking try it, I’ll wait).
Bored of the usual sushi/Indian/bistro? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Whether it’s Istanbul Cafe’s take on Turkish, or the Malaysian at Bentara, or even the Ethiopian at Lalibela (who doesn’t love eating with their hands?), New Haven has a wide variety of options for every exotic taste.
And for that inevitable 2:30 craving of falafal? I’ll see you at Mamoun’s. Duh.
The Small City Vibe
There are a lot of benefits to living in a small city. For one, you can walk virtually anywhere. I live in East Rock and it’s barely a mile to downtown. Another half mile to Wooster Square. Sure, Westville is a billion miles away, but if you live there, that’s your problem.
Heck, one of my favorite New Haven activities is to get into the right, uh… frame of mine… (ahem.), put on my headphones, and just wander around the streets. Just take it in. The cute neighborhoods, the Yale Gothic architecture, the immaculate Green.
In larger cities, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, feeling like an anonymous person floating in an enormous city of strangers. In a smaller city like New Haven, you find yourself constantly waving to friends as you ride by on your bike or seeing a ton of people you know at the local bar. Which is great, as long as you haven’t had any regrettable sex with any of them. Which I’m sure you haven’t, cause you’re a total grown up.
Another nice thing about being in a small city? You can actually find a cafe to sit and do work in. I know this sounds crazy, but go to New York and go check out any cute little cafe and realize that it is jam-packed with people. New York people. Ugh.
We have cafes for hanging out, for writing your thesis (sucker), for great coffee, for browsing excellent book selections… you name it, we have a place you can sit down and enjoy your favorite caffeinated beverage. Or you can just be a sell-out and hang out at Starbucks. Gross. You’re gross. Stop being gross.
Oh, and there’s stuff to do, too!
New Haven has just enough going on without the constant onslaught of a big city. It gives you options without overwhelming you. You can make plans, but you don’t need to make them every night.
During the summer, the Arts and Ideas Festival puts on shows on the green, where people from all walks of life gather, enjoy the warm summer breeze, and perhaps some totally inconspicuous adult beverages.
Yale provides a host of cultural options, including the lovely Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Center of British Art, and the Peabody Museum. Of course, there’s also their Rep Theater, the Cabaret, and the unaffiliated Long Wharf Theater, which is looking pretty dang sexy after a makeover.
Need to make new friends? Join a kickball league and watch your social calendar turn your social drinking problems into a crippling addiction! Your therapist will thank me.
And hey, if there isn’t enough going on… you can just leave!
Close to Pretty Much Everything.
I love New Haven, but it certainly doesn’t have everything. Maybe your favorite band didn’t come to Connecticut (no shit). Maybe you’re looking for something really exotic. New Haven might not have it. But you know who will?
New York and Boston. New York is less than a two hour train ride away. Boston? Two hour drive.
You know what sucks about New York City? You can’t escape. Unless you’re one of those maniacs who owns a car and swims in piles of money, Scrooge McDuck-style. In which case, hey, great, fuck off.
Otherwise, you wanna go for a hike? Or go to the beach? Uhhhhh yeah about that. Not happening.
New Haven? We have a beach, and despite the jokes people make, it’s actually pretty nice. And free for residents. And there’s an adorable carousel.
Want a hike? Sleeping Giant and Westwoods are both under 30 minute drives away. Both are gorgeous hikes depicting some of Connecticut’s most natural beauty. You like natural beauty, don’t you? Sure you do.
Of course, New Haven itself is pretty, too.
There are few things better than the cherry blossoms in Wooster Square.
Every Last Person Matters
Perhaps the best part of living in a great small city like New Haven is having a real voice in the process. It’s not hard to get a hold of your Alderperson. And that person has direct access to the Mayor. If you attend a community meeting, you will be heard. Even the smallest concerns get a voice.
The new developments downtown. The new bike lanes. GPS-enabled buses. These are all plans which exist because New Haven has a community which cares about making things better, and empowers people to do that.
Is New Haven the Greatest Small City in America? #GSCIA?
I have no fucking idea. But I live here and I love it.
Fuck off, Cedar Rapids.