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American Studies, “The Hill Community”

Dorothy F. Forbes

Contents of Curriculum Unit 89.01.02:

To Guide Entry

This unit can be used to enhance the teaching of Social Studies as a supplement with other related curriculum or it may be used independently. The information contained herein lends itself to teaching with hands on, i.e. field trips to motivate the students, focusing on the neighborhood through economics, politics, social activities, religions, ethnic groups, architecture, geography and other avenues that one would brainstorm and come up with. Each of the afore-mentioned topics could lead into a whole new arena, or could be scaled down to the length of time that the teacher waited to spend on the topic.

For instance, one could ask the question, “why did most viable cities build or locate where bodies of water were?” What caused the inhabitants of that area to settle in that section? What ethnic groups governed the settlement? Why? What occupations did the people choose? What skills were needed for these occupations in this area today and how has this changed from then? One could focus on demography, etc.

This unit relates to a survey of the Hill community, with some background on politics in the sixties under the leadership of the Honorable Mayor Richard C. Lee.

The physical map is to be used to show the terrain of New Haven, the Hill and Connecticut. The student should use the map to determine the reasons for climate in the area and how that led to the types of occupations of the inhabitants. Once the students have mastered the concepts outlined above they should be guided into a discussion on why people live in different places. This may be done by sampling the questions found below.

1.Why can’t all members of a family live in the same house once they become adult age?
2.Why are there several economic classes of people?
3.Why are there different standards and/or values for each household, neighborhood, town, state, and country?
4.What were the reasons your parents and grandparents came to live here?
5.What were the reasons the people that lived in the Hill had for selecting that area?
6.Where would you like to live upon reacting adulthood? Why?
The second step will enhance an appreciation for the Hill neighborhood and will consist of the strategies stated, i.e. field trips, writing, discussion, research and map reading.

Persuasive Writing Assignment Objective

Using the holistic approach, students will be able to distinguish between two aspects of persuasive writings:

a. Identifying propaganda techniques.
b. Understand how debates effect persuasive writing strategies.
Write an essay not less than three pages for above average students, and one and a half pages for below average students.

Write the vocabulary list below on ditto or chalk board and familiarize students with each word.

1. debate, 2. prompt, 3. Rubic analytic, 4. evaluation, 5. profile, 6. assessment, 7. propaganda, 8. proposition, 9. narrative.

Once this is achieved, begin brainstorming to set paper in motion.

1. What makes up a neighborhood?
2. Describe your neighborhood.
3. How does the Hill neighborhood differ from Newhallville?
The third step consists of preparing an outline for a report that students will learn to write by organizing their thoughts.


Select the topic you wish to write on, then make an outline listing the questions that you want to answer in your report. What was New Haven like under the leadership of Mayor Lee? Compare or contrast life under the leadership of Mayor Dilieto.

1. Look at employment
2. Evaluate government
3. Compare crime
4. How children were raised
5. How religion influenced behavior
6. Housing
7. Examine the tax base
8. How does education differ?
9. What about juvenile behavior?

Choose a topic from the list, or one of your own and prepare an outline by writing five or six questions that you want answered about your topic.

The fourth step involves maps used to teach the skills of finding places, using latitude and longitude; finding north, south, east and west, using the legends to read the maps. Also, finding out why geographical settlements are where they are, and why most cities are built near water outlets.

1. Map of the Hill

2. Map of New Haven

3. Map of Connecticut

4. Map of the United States

A blank map will be given to each student. Use the overhead projector or a large wall map, and demonstrate as the lesson is taught, using all the concepts outlined above.


Latitude lines are parallel to the Equator; lines north of the Equator are marked with an N, and lines south are marked with an S. They are imaginary lines drawn on maps and globes to assist in locating places on the earth.

Longitude lines (also called Meridians) are drawn from the North to the South Poles. Lines east of the Prime Meridian (0° on the map) are marked with an E. Lines west of the Prime Meridian are marked with a W, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary.

The fifth step deals with evaluating a leader to teach the student what comprises a leader. Mayor Lee was considered to be an innovative leader during his great tenure in office in New Haven as mayor. What things made him a great leader? Study this list of achievements and select the three that you think best prove that he was an innovative leader.

1. Built hospitals.
2. Built better roads and connectors to highways.
3. Brought in Federal grants which employed more inhabitants.
4. Built new schools.
5. Built new homes or dwellings for living.
6. Rehabilitated the downtown area, creating a sound tax base.
7. Rehabilitated neighborhoods in the city.


Objective—Note-taking is an important way to enhance Social Studies skills. Students will be assigned reading from newspapers and other dittos related to current affairs in the Hill neighborhood, and will be asked to read and take notes and give a two-to-three minute report, using notes only from their reading assignment, giving the main idea first and their after-writing.

Introduce the vocabulary after the brain-storming session, divide the class into two groups. Choose one of the above topics for each group to discuss the components. A recorder will record for each group and will read back to the class the notes that were transcribed. Students should be encouraged to make use of skills acquired to develop the narrative.


1. Conduct a mock election to see who becomes the leader of the group each week. Allow candidates to campaign for a few days prior to voting.
2. Choose a local issue in New Haven or the Hill. Hold a mock press conference and allow students to report any news occurring in their own neighborhoods or the Hill.
3. Have students do problem solving on ways to improve their blocks or their neighborhood, the city or as a whole, in a sequence.

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The Hill is a peninsula which includes three neighborhoods; the upper Hill; Kimberly Square mid section and City Point. The name came about in the early 19th century, because the ethnic groups that were living there were, and still are Whites, Blacks and Hispanics.

Looking at the Hill, we visualized blight, flight and unsightly neighborhoods. The plan to correct this plight first came under the Honorable Mayor Richard C. Lee’s administration. The plan was to bulldoze the old buildings and replace them with new ones, meanwhile building a new highway—the Oak Street Connector.

In the seventies, a new plan was put into action. Rehabilitation, which stressed preservation and holding the intrinsic values, thus excluding Congress Avenue, which would be bull-dozed. A general five-block area from Congress to Columbus Avenues, between Hallock and West Streets. It was hoped that this would deter crime that was so prevalent in this area. It was further thought that new business would enter. To that end, Sullivan Fuel Company expanded, Yale New Haven Medical Center and the Renaissance Hill project came in with 65 subsidized family units and the May Coat Company, an expensive clothing outlet at 430 Congress Avenue . Ve gol gence Restsurant, 485 Howard Avenue, now replaced by a Chinese restaurant. The Charter House on Howard Avenue; Rustic Garden Cafe on Second St.; Leon’s at 321 Washington, an Italian restaurant so popular, it takes weeks to get a reservation. One can note the beautiful architecture on Howard Avenue.

City Point, during the 1800s, was known as Oyster Point, because of numerous oyster plants in the area. It was also known as the Oyster Capital of the Northeast in the late 19th century. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, it was replaced by an asphalt paving company, and thus took on the name City Point.

During the 1940s, we became engaged in World War II, and that led to a severe shortage in workers, as the young men were drafted into the armed forces. Coupled with severe complications of the hurricanes of 1938, the oyster companies were forced out of business.

The state instituted plans to construct I-95 right through Bay View Park. This park was a gift from The New York Journal of Commerce editor, Gerald Hallock, which Hallock Street is named after. The park, at that time, was used mainly as a community center of activities. Today, it houses the city’s Alternate High School, the Schnoor, Inc., a floating school which focuses on maritime history, trigonometry and navigation. The city and other states want to set up these types of so-called “magnet schools”, to lure suburban areas to send students for purposes of integration.

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An early survey of New Haven stated that 75% of Blacks in New Haven were born in the South, coming primarily from Virginia and the Carolinas, with continuing migrants also coming from Puerto Rico. Thus, as more non-Whites enter into the area, more Whites flee to the suburbs.


Black migration from the South to New Haven, Connecticut.







Net Black Migration From the South






Annual Avg. Rate







Ratio of movement from one dwelling to another, within the same neighborhood.

Dixwell (5) 0.16 to 1

Hill (1) 1.80 to 1

Fair Haven (3) 0.70 to 1

Dwight (7) 1.20 to 1

Newhallville(6) 2.10 to 1

Imperative to understanding the dynamics of an inner-city population, is that it is extremely mobile; moving either within a given neighborhood, or from one neighborhood to another. The tables provided herein are based on information from Rollin G. Osterweis. Areas close to Yale and the Medical Center, tend to contain a majority of Whites.

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Supplementary materials including sample lesson plans are available at the Teachers Institute Office.

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