European settlers arrived to New Haven on 1638 and found that the area was populated by the Quinnipiacks, a group of Native American people. This group of people harvested seafood, grew maize, and hunted for food and fur. The new settlers bought some land from the Quinnipiack and started a new community which focus was to establish a commercial empire utilizing the harbor.
New Haven has many neighborhoods many of which have a natural boundary that allows for fragmentation and its inhabitants are very much aware of the different neighborhoods. I intend to help students recognize the similarities and differences in the neighborhoods' habitats through the observation of the flora in each of four purposely chosen neighborhoods.
The entire southwest quarter of the city of New Haven was originally cut off from downtown by the West Creek. The Hill, located between the railroad station to the east and the docks to the south. One area of the Hill is one called Church Street South; this area is only blocks away from City Hall. The Hill is a peninsula that includes City Point, which was known for its numerous oyster plants.
The state instituted plans to construct I-95 right through Bay View Park. A park that was located in the south side of the Hill. Thus, the highway runs very close to the neighborhood. As former habitants of the Hill tell the highway isolated from the neighborhood some of the playground areas (to go fishing or oystering) that they use to frequent as recently as in the 50's.
Around 1640 farmers took possession of this portion of land. The area was called Farmes or East Farmes it consisted of scattered farms. The river settlement came later.
For almost 200 years Fair Haven developed independently. Although it was two miles from the downtown green to the Quinnipiac River, the neighborhood development was separate of the original nine squares. Finally by 1870, Fair Haven became a part of the New Haven city due to improved transportation.
Right from the beginning, the European settlers of Fair Haven mimic the Native Americans in the digging and consumption of oysters. Piles of oyster shells were a common sight around the harbor. Anyone could walk into the harbor flats at low tide and pick all the oysters he could; during this time oysters were easily available. The oyster became Fair Haven's most precious resource.
The Dragon as is still commonly known by "Fairhaveners" became a small village dedicated to the oyster business. The Quinnipiac River continues to be a natural boundary that requires bridges to connect to other parts of the city.
Another natural boundary is the Mill River; nature has not been able to stop the building of houses and the many immigrants that have made this peninsula their home. The other industry that was and still is prevalent in the neighborhood is shipbuilding. Shipyards were located on both sides of the Quinnipiac. In the beginning the "Sharpies", a small boat build to fish for oysters was the most popular.
One important detail is the extinction of the native oysters and the need the fisherman had to import oysters to cultivate.
The Center of town
A government had been established by 1640 and the settlement, originally called Quinnipiac, was renamed Newhaven. In accordance with old English custom, the town plan was based on a grid of nine squares, the central square, now the Green, was designated as a public common. In 1641 New Haven was a community of approximately 800 European settlers. By the time the Revolutionary War began, New Haven had evolved from a colonial village into a growing town of about 3,500.