Find a typo?  Pose a question?  Accolades?  See if you can get the comment function on this thing to work!

3 thoughts on “Forum

  1. Andra C.

    What a great website! Thank you to Prof. Elihu Rubin and all of the students who put this together. As a new resident of Westville, I’m curious how the streetcar lines facilitated residential growth here in the early 20th century. Many of the homes around Edgewood, Yale, West Rock, Alden, and Central seem to be of the same vintage, circa 1920. Would it be fair to call Westville a streetcar suburb? Also, when and why were the streetcar lines in New Haven removed? Was there nefarious plotting by the car lobby to do away with streetcars, as in other places in the U.S.?

    1. Jonathan Hopkins

      While I was not involved in the making of this terrific website, I happened to come across your comment and may be able to offer some feedback regarding your questions.
      Lower Westville, or as it is sometimes referred the “Westville Flats”, is a hybrid neighborhood. Many residential and some commercial properties – particularly along Whalley, Fountain, Alden, Edgewood, and their side streets – were subdivided, developed, and built upon in the first couple decades of the 20th century as a result of having access to streetcar service going to and from Downtown New Haven. The scores of multifamily homes lining streets like Alden and Central are indicative of this streetcar suburban development pattern.
      By the 1920s, the remaining plots in lower Westville further from the streetcar lines, which ran along Edgewood, Alden, Fountain and Whalley, developed as single-family houses on a variety of lot sizes and included garages for the storage of automobiles. This growth pattern is typical of an early automobile suburb, though a common household might only have one vehicle that the household’s breadwinner, usually the husband, would use to commute Downtown, while the wife and children would still rely on streetcars for routine shopping trips, errands, and going to junior high and high school.
      Beginning in the 1930s, and perhaps even earlier, some streetcar lines were converted to bus routes and typically any new transit routes created after the 1910s would have been served by buses. By 1947, all streetcar lines ceased operation in New Haven. I am unaware of any nefarious plotting to destroy the city’s transit system, but its possible and certainly happened in other cities like Los Angeles. Other reasons for replacing the streetcar system with buses include traffic congestion induced by wider automobile ownership and use after 1920 competing with streetcars for roadway space, inflexibility of streetcar routes to account for construction and other considerations, dangers of having streetcar riders crossing travel lanes to access streetcars, which ran in the middle of streets, costs of maintaining rail infrastructure, visual clutter of overhead wires, access to inexpensive motor oil, zoning and other land-use regulations that required lower density development and segregated uses that could not be efficiently served by transit, among other reasons.
      Upper Westville, including the Amity and Beverly Hills sections, are typical automobile suburbs of the mid-20th century and were never serviced by streetcar lines.
      I hope this was helpful!

  2. Matthew Booker

    Here’s an accolade: I’ve just read chapter two on waste and water. This is terrific, careful historical work. I particularly appreciate the conceptual category, which blends food production (oysters in the harbor), water supply, and waste treatment. Those were not separate questions in the industrial era, and your work captures that.

    Matthew Booker
    Assoc Prof of History
    North Carolina State University
    National Humanities Center, 2016-17


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