Friday, September 21, 2012

It's a banner day for New Haven notables on upper Chapel Street

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

NEW HAVEN — In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been asking you who you think are the most prominent 200 people from Greater New Haven over the last two centuries. The project is part of the Register’s ongoing 200th-anniversary celebration, which will hit its peak in December.

We’ve gotten some great names: Artie Shaw, the band leader, Robert Moses, who transformed the New York cityscape, Emma Ruff, New Haven’s first black high school teacher. Keep those names coming!

Actor Paul Giamatti, born in New Haven, on Chapel Street.
(Photos by Mara Lavitt, New Haven Register)

As it turns out, we’re not the only ones interested in celebrating those people who have made New Haven and its surrounding towns such a vibrant, exciting place to live. If you wander around the upper Chapel Street area, between York Street and Sherman Avenue, you’ll see a number of banners celebrating “New Haven Notables.”

The banners include actors Paul Giamatti and Patricia Smith (who were born here) and Meryl Streep (who first starred at Yale), boxer Chad Dawson and Red Sox player Craig Breslow (in an Oakland A’s uniform, two teams ago), Rev. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, civil rights activist Adam Clayton Powell and others. They are the product of the Chapel West Special Services District.

Albie Booth and Walter Camp on Chapel Street.
“Our district is in the middle of the arts center of Yale,” said Vincent Romei, president of the district, referring to the schools of Art and Architecture and the museums on Chapel Street. That’s one reason the district decided to post the banners, which are on the sides of both privately owned and public buildings, mostly on Chapel, Park and Howe streets.

The criteria to be included: “They should be born in New Haven or at least developed their career in New Haven. There’s only like one or two that were not born in New Haven … but the Yale connection goes a long way.”

Eli Whitney and James Hillhouse on Park Street.
The large banners with drawings and biographies of city “notables” are not the only ones the district has put up. “We’ve had not only these banners but merchants have banners all throughout our district … and we recently put up street banners (with) a history of how they (the streets) got their names,” Romei said.
They’re among the projects the district undertakes to increase the area’s quality of life. “We do what the city doesn’t have time to do or can’t get to,” he said.

It’s great that we’re not the only ones who want to celebrate people from New Haven. And we’re still interested in your nominations. Send them to me at or give me a call at 203-789-5743.


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