About This Project

This fall students in the “Introduction to Public Humanities” course at Yale collaborated to produce a multimedia website which explores the diversity of community gathering places in the city of New Haven. Elm City Havens officially premiered on Monday, December 8, 2014 at a launch held at one of the featured havens, The Institute Library, located at 847 Chapel Street.

“Introduction to Public Humanities” is offered to both graduate and undergraduate students through the American Studies program at Yale. It is taught by Ryan Brasseaux, Dean of Davenport College. The course examines the relationship between knowledge produced in the university and the circulation of ideas among a broader public. Topics include public history, museum studies, oral and community history, public art, documentary film and photography, public writing and educational outreach, and the performing arts.

For the final class project, students decided to create an informative and interactive site which would highlight community spaces in New Haven. The name Elm City Havens is a double entendre which includes the city’s historic nickname and also evokes the idea of finding one’s own community space – or haven – within the context of the city at large. New Haven has the distinction of having been home to the first public tree planting program in America. In 1784 civic leader James Hillhouse began planting American elms on the New Haven Green and around the city in an effort to beautify the urban landscape.

Community spaces make the city a place for people to call home. Elm City Havens asks “Where is your haven?” and shares some examples of unique community spaces which provide old and new havens for the city’s diverse communities. The purpose of Elm City Havens is to offer a multimedia platform for learning more about these gathering spaces: their stories, their goals, and the communities to whom they belong. The site features an option for visitors to add information about their own havens. Community spaces currently featured at

Elm City Havens tells the stories of New Haven’s community spaces through a variety of media and methods. At the website visitors can listen to the audio segments to hear the voices of various community members, from leaders to volunteers. The site enables visitors to browse through a photo slideshow to see what these spaces look like in action. Narratives about each of the havens provide a sense of their rich histories and future goals.

Elm City Havens hopes to show that community organizations are still very much alive in contemporary New Haven.

Process 1Shizue RocheAdachi, Olivia Rosenthal, and Lucy Caplan interview Natalie Elicker at The Institute Library. Photograph by Sarah Eckinger.


Home Page Photography by Sarah Eckinger and Eino Sierpe (New Haven People’s Center).
Graphic Design by Katy Osborn.