Loved the article on the Federal Writers’ Project’s Connecticut: A Guide To Its Roads, Lore and People. [“Connecticut Guide Book Leads the Way,” Summer 2021.] My husband and I often pulled it and our copy of Edgar Heermance’s The Connecticut Guide out when we’d go on Sunday drives. We’d compare the descriptions of towns and often found ourselves befuddled by the directions! When friends express surprise at my knowledge of towns and villages in Connecticut and say that I should lead tour groups, I laugh. I know exactly when I got my information! (I also have copies of the guides for Massachusetts & New Hampshire—two other favorite states to drive in!)
The praise heaped upon Ed Logue and Richard C. Lee by the author of this article is misplaced [“Ed Logue and Urban Renewal in New Haven,” Summer 2021]. “Redevelopment” tore the heart out of downtown New Haven with its surrounding ethnic enclaves and drove residents out by the force of eminent domain. Many lives were disrupted and some of the heartbroken exiles never recovered from the trauma, but who cares about them? Those folks were the lifeblood of surrounding shops and businesses and this was all destroyed. The businesses soon followed the exodus out of the city. We are now left in thrall to Yale University and its great schemes for its own future, to be paid for by taxpayers. For all the money that poured in to level swaths of the city, what do we have to show for it today? I’d like to see a follow up article on New Haven today so that the beatification of Logue and Lee could be put to rest, once and for all.
CT Explored responds: We selected the excerpt from Dr. Cohen’s book to place the reader back in a time and place when urban renewal was a new idea. The story’s intent is not to lionize Ed Logue or Richard Lee, far from it. It enables us to look critically at a concept we now understand—in hindsight—to be deeply flawed, a lesson learned at great cost. Please also visit “Preserving Dixwell in New Haven as a Model,” Spring 2013.
Dr. Cohen responds: My book when read fully is also very critical of New Haven’s urban renewal for many of the reasons that the letter writer says. The strategies employed to “save American cities” often failed to achieve the desired ends in New Haven and in many other places, particularly during the 1950s. The excerpt selected by Connecticut Explored aimed at engaging readers in considering the real challenges facing cities like New Haven after World War II, even as they often failed to find remedies that were effective and just. I would urge people to read my full discussion of New Haven’s urban renewal to benefit from my analysis of urban renewal’s negative impact on downtown retailers and other businesses as well as many of the city’s ethnic and racial communities.
We hope you have enjoyed this year’s issues of Connecticut Explored and the additional stories brought to you in audio via Grating the Nutmeg, the podcast of Connecticut history. We ask for your support through a gift to the Friends of Connecticut Explored to help us continue publishing and to support the podcast and our educational initiatives. Friends’ support is so important to us, it represents about 25 percent of our operating budget each year.
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20th Anniversary Endowment Fund Established
As we announced in the summer issue, last spring CTExplored established its first-ever endowment fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving as part of the Endow Hartford 21 campaign. As of June 17, we are excited to announce that generous friends of the magazine have contributed $47,025, with qualifying gifts making us eligible for a match of $23,075! The campaign continues until June 30, 2022. For the latest information about whether we’ve maxed out the pool of matching funds, visit ctexplored.org/20th-anniversary-endowment-campaign/. You may also visit endowhartford21.com.
Thank You CTHumanities
Thank you to CTHumanities for awarding CTExplored a grant to plan to mark the magazine’s 20th anniversary beginning in fall 2022! We’re putting together a planning team to develop a series of programs and events throughout 2022 – 2023 to both mark the occasion and look forward. Watch for more information in the coming months.
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