Dixwell: A Plan to Solve Complex Problems through Design


New Haven, CT
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The Dixwell neighborhood is a fascinating urban renewal case study. By the 1940s, the area was primarily a working-class residential neighborhood with a large African American and immigrant population. The neighborhood was a focus of city officials even before the post-war urban renewal period; loss of investment in the neighborhood due to redlining contributed to the neighborhood’s decline and deteriorated housing stock. The location of Elm Haven, the City’s first public housing project in 1940 (now demolished), which was constructed in Dixwell in a first attempt to address concerns in the neighborhood through design.


The 1960 Dixwell Redevelopment and Renewal Plan took a more holistic approach to instituting urban renewal ideals in the neighborhood through demolition of blighted properties (and displacement), new sites for housing and controlled-used commercial properties, a public space, institutional, religious, and community-focus buildings, and new traffic circulation patterns and parking. It was the largest redevelopment area of the city.


This tour will begin at the monumental Dixwell Avenue Congressional Church (designed by John Johansen), which was the focal point in the Dixwell Plan with its modern design, community use and public space, and was seen as a path for racial integration and minority empowerment. The tour will discuss the Dixwell Redevelopment and Renewal Plan and its modern architecture while at the church and will continue as a walking tour along Dixwell Avenue to explore the remaining modernist architecture and town planning of this urban renewal era against the backdrop of the neighborhood in the midst of a second wave of urban renewal. Other sites on the tour will include the Goffe Street Fire House (designed by Venturi and Rauch), United House of Prayer for All People and McCollough Court Apartments (designed by Edward E. Cherry), and Mt. Bethel Baptist Church (designed by King-lui Wu).


Walking Tour


Space is limited.