An ongoing historical investigation into the plot of land at approximately 1032 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut. Planted by Puritans in 1638, it has been home to Roger Sherman, an opera house, and the city's Union League Club — its soil contains the roots of the United States of America.
The Development of the Green as a Public Square, by Henry Taylor Blake
“It remains only to speak of the public wells and pumps which have been at different times established on the Green. These wells have been four in number and of them only one survives, the one on the corner of Chapel and Church streets. It was dug in 1813 and the present pump and canopy were placed over it in 1878. The oldest public well was located near College street, near the site of the ancient jail, and was probably originally connected with that institution. It is still remembered by many of our citizens. The water was not considered good or whole- some, and the well was closed between 1840 and 1850.
After the city was organized, protection from fire was one of its most urgent necessities, and numerous public wells were opened in various localities. In 1797, a well and pump were established on the lower Green at the corner of Chapel and Temple streets. In 1819, another well and pump were placed on the corner of Elm and Temple streets. Both these wells were generally dry and the pumps constantly out of order. The care and expense of the public wells gave great trouble to the Common Council, and were the subject of numberless votes in that body. But the introduction of water from Lake Whitney, January 1, 1862, brought such matters to a happy close, and brought also a new era in the health, comfort, safety and progress of the city.
This important event, the introduction of water, marks almost as distinct an era in the history of New Haven as the completion of the City Hall during the same year did in the history of the Green. Since that period it has been passing from the character of the rural New England town to that of a large and cosmopolitan city. Where isolated dwellings stood thirty years ago, long rows of compact blocks now line the streets. Foreign faces and foreign costumes swarm along the sidewalks. Cobwebs of electric wires darken the sky, and electric cars fly to and fro through the formerly quiet thoroughfares. But amid all the changes in its surroundings, the ancient Green as it rests tranquilly under its venerable trees, watched over by the prim and old-fashioned churches, those relics of a by-gone time when religion was a public institution, seems sleeping in the shadows of the past, and dreaming of old or shall we rather say young New Haven.
As the city grows more dense and thronged around it, its use as a convenient spot for public buildings can no longer be thought of, but its priceless value as a breathing and resting and gathering place for the people becomes constantly more conspicuous. May it be guarded from enroachment in the future more jealously than in the past; and may our successors in its care of every race and lineage protect its soil, and cherish its traditions with that affectionate veneration which is the heritage and the test of every true son and daughter of New Haven!” -Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, University of California Libraries, “Chronicles of New Haven green from 1638 to 1862; a series of papers read before the New Haven colony historical society,” by Henry Taylor Blake, 1898. (top) Image courtesy of Geographicus, Antique Maps of the United States, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, “Map of the Yale University, New Haven Green, Connecticut,” circa 1930s
Roger Sherman, also of Connecticut, was known to have given one of the shortest speeches in history at a bridge dedication ceremony when he said, "I think it will hold up all right," while testing the strength of the bridge with one foot.
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