Haven on Earth, Part 1: Building Blocks

Usually, when we think of traveling, we think of leaving the town/state/country for some exotic locale. My upcoming trip to Europe, my friend’s trip to Libya, and my parents’ trip to Florida – all of those are “traveling.” But walking around the fine city of New Haven yesterday, I realized that we tend to consider commuting to work…well, commuting, rather than traveling. I’m lucky enough to live in New England, where big, awesome places like New York and Boston are just a short car ride away, but until I wandered around the Yale campus, I had forgotten all about the city I work in.

image courtesy of businessweek.com

New Haven, CT is usually on the list of the most dangerous cities in the United States, behind places like Bridgeport, Camden, Oakland, and Detroit. As someone that’s been in Connecticut for nearly seven years, and has been working in New Haven for the last four years (and lived there for a bit over a year), I have gotten the emails about rapes and shootings and muggings…but haven’t ever experienced the feel of a dangerous city. My disclaimer is that I usually stick to downtown around the Yale campus, during mostly working/daylight hours, but I still haven’t ever been really afraid for my life. Instead of fear, what I have felt is a strong multicultural climate (thanks, Yale), with lots of history and tradition and a strong sense of both Connecticut and city pride.

While wandering around campus on my way to the bank (ok, I was actually hauling ass), I got stuck on the phone with my mom, and therefore had to stop in the middle of a street to speak to her. Sometimes, you just can’t walk and talk to Mom at the same time. I decided to look up, and saw something I hadn’t really taken in the time to appreciate before: A pretty façade on a dorm, with intricate carvings and stunning masonry.

I started to walk slowly, taking in my surroundings. I began to think that perhaps, instead of associating New Haven with a crappy 35-mile commute, and rich, idiot students that wear flip flops and shorts in the snow and wonder why they’re cold, I have really been missing out on some gorgeous aspects of the city that have only ever considered “where I work.” I was totally oblivious until now, and from that day, I’ve had a new-found appreciation for the Elm City.

This guy makes sure you do your homework!

The gentlemen holding court

I realized, after a few (slower) walks downtown for various made-up reasons, that I’m working in a city with so much beauty and culture to offer, if we just take the time to look around and notice them. And, sometimes, we just have to look up.

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6 comments

  1. This is gorgeous. I think it’s important to be a tourist in your own town from time to time, to pause and look at it the way an outsider would and pick up on all the interesting, charming and unique bits.

    1. Good old Mom. If it weren’t for her, I bet I’d never have to stop to yell at her in the street, and start to look around to see who is listening, and then notice nice buildings 😛

  2. You may be interested in Canadian Travel Bugs blog, as she has once a month a theme for “Tourist in your own town” http://canadiantravelbugs.wordpress.com/!

    But I agree with you, it wasn’t until we came to my home country with my kiwi husband, who wanted to continue to explore here, like we had been doing while backpacking, that I realised how much there is to see and to do right there were we are!

    1. It’s baffling, really, how much we can take for granted when we’re used to something. It sounds like your husband was able to motivate you to appreciate your home country, which is awesome!

  3. Gorgeous. What beautiful gargoyles and intricate buildings. We’re all so lucky to be living in historical cities and hopefully appreciate them. I live in Berlin, Germany and I know how beautiful my city is. I also come from Manchester, UK and you can still find traces of Roman civilisation. And in London, you can pretty much find everything. The old and the new. The trick is to look all around you!
    Your photos are lovely. Thanks and thanks for following me too. I look forward to reading more. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the compliments on the photos! I’m still learning so I hope they’ll get better with more practice.

      I am dying to visit Manchester! I’ve only seen the Ferris wheel, but doing some googling shows how great and beautiful it really is.

      You’re right, we’re super lucky to be in such great cities. Here’s to appreciating them! 🙂

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