Downtown New Haven, CT- one of my favorite American Downtowns

Downtown New Haven was originally laid out as nine squares in 1638. This includes modern day New Haven Green, the immediate surrounding central business district, as well as a significant portion of the Yale University campus.

Dwtn New Haven has become one of the  most residential mid-size city downtown helping to support downtown businesses and retail extending even to secondary streets. Its vibrancy, mixed-use development, cultural amenities, and strong walkability make it one of the best Dwtns in the United States.

But as always there are still areas that could be improved from an urban perspective including more rental product and affordable housing, a larger office population and several key retail amenities (i.e. supermarket and a department store).
Click here to view my full Downtown New Haven album on Flickr


* Excellent public transit access Dwtn and throughout the full New Haven City. Good transit access to surrounding inner ring suburbs.
* Pretty good bike infrastructure within Dwtn including several dedicated bike lanes and a bike sharing system within Dtwn and inner ring neighborhoods. Limited bike lanes out to the suburbs other than a lengthy lane going to the north.
* Excellent racial and economic diversity helped certainly by Yale.
* Pretty nice mix of for-sale options with condos selling between 100K-500K, and larger townhouse and rowhouses selling between 500K-800K.
* Good vibrancy Dwtn.
* Great historic architecture especially with Yale University buildings. Solid urban infill as well.
* Wonderful urban form and streetscape in Dwtn as well. Some surface parking lots on the eastern edge of Dwtn.
* Nothing spectacular with the skyline but some nine consistently with the midrise building and some very nice Yale University towers.
* Great imageability with numerous historic landmarks, New Haven Green, and well laid out streets.
* New Haven Green is a wonderful civic space located in the middle of Dwtn and Yale. Lots of programming here. Other greenspace include plenty of gorgeous quads in Yale University but this is still public space. Some nice rec spaces just outside dwtn as well.
* Generally very walkable infrastructure but good amount of ADA current curbs missing.
* Good array of public and private schools generally forming a ring about 1/2 mile outside of dwtn. Rankings are ok but very walkable schools.
* Large student population in Dwtn including over 12,000 at Yale, 7,000 at Gateway Community College.
* Lots of cultural amenities including a movie theater, several community theaters and live music venues, tons of restaurants, bars, & cafes, several art galleries, and a great array of museums. Many of these amenities are run by Yale.
* New Haven has a dwtn improvement district and safety ambassador program.
* Good array of retail amenities including several small grocerias, great array of clothing stores, many banks, several books stores, several pharmacies, and a dwtn post office and library


* 25% of households are family. Pretty decent for a Dwtn, but limited age diversity as most residents are students.
* Rental product is a bit limited and expensive.
* No large convention center dwtn, although there are plenty of small ones. No major sporting arenas.
* Not a ton of office jobs in Dwtn by Yale University itself brings 15,000 jobs. Probably 25,000 total jobs in Dwtn New Haven, an okay number for a metro of  862K.
* Very low vacancy rates though, speaking to the demand of office space dwtn.
* Large supermarket is about 1 mile outside of dwtn.

Danbury, CT- Historic hat making capital of America

I restricted my evaluation to Dwtn Danbury which a linear area center around Main street between South St and Garamella Blvd.

Danbury is nicknamed the “Hat City” as it was the center of the American hat industry during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its name comes from English city of Danbury in Essex. Danbury was originally settled by colonists in 1685. When it incorporated in 1822 it had  4,000 residents. By 1900 it grew to a sizable city of 20,000 and 30,000 by WWII.

Center City Danbury is basically a main street with several larger public and religious buildings surrounded by some residential streets. Main Street experienced several decades of decline but fortunately its urban form remained mostly in tact. Grassroots efforts are well underway to revitalize Center City Danbury with an organized Downtown Business District, new shops, and public investment. Some new residential has also been constructed since 2000 but not enough to create a vibrant downtown. Other areas Center City could improve include better park and recreation space, bike infrastructure, and more retail and cultural amenities.
Click here to view my Danbury, CT album on Flickr


* Quality sidewalks throughout. Up to date ADA infrastructure is a mixed bag.
* Good local transit along with access to the east coast’s regional lines.
* Great racial diversity and good generational diversity with lots of family households.
* Some blight but crime is below national averages.
* Dwtn cultural amenities are a bit limited but include several diverse restaurants, handful of bars & cafes, the historic Palace Danbury, and a couple historic sites. Ives College is also down the street and brings some good performing arts.
* Retail amenities a public library and post office, good array of boutiques, several ethnic grocerias, and other general retail.
* Several public and catholic elementary schools within are near Center City Danbury. 


* Some jobs in Danbury. Commuting to larger Cities in the Stamford Metro, New Haven, or Hartford are all btwn 45- 1 hr.
* No bike infrastructure. 
* Some economic diversity but median income is on the low side.
* Rental product is pretty limited but average price. For sale product also limited but diverse price ranging from 100K-350K.
* Some park space dwtn including the Danbury City Green (nice pavilion and lawn) and Elmwood Park.
* Street grid is very curvy and easy making it easy to get disoriented in Center City Danbury