Urban Renewal as Violence: Documenting the Erasure of Wooster Square
MetadataShow full item record
In American urban development, a defining period known as the urban renewal era took place in the decades after the Second World War. Many cities in the United States experienced a new interest in addressing urban decay; laws such as the 1949 Housing Act facilitated the movement. Municipalities had the capability to demolish areas that they labelled as ‘slums’ or ‘blighted’ in order to build new, attractive urban fabric and infrastructure. Although perhaps rooted in an optimistic and utopian vision of the future city, urban renewal projects had significant flaws—namely that the areas targeted for demolition disproportionately belonged to marginalized communities. In New Haven, Connecticut, the historic neighbourhood of Wooster Square was subject to an urban renewal scheme that included both rehabilitation of existing buildings, and complete redevelopment. Further, a new Interstate highway was situated through the centre of the neighbourhood, designed to sever Wooster Square into two distinct areas. This thesis explores the motivations and impact of Wooster Square’s renewal, both on the urban fabric itself, as well as on the neighbourhood’s Italian, immigrant and working class community. Through a series of ten illustrations that draw knowledge from archival sources such as photographs and oral histories, the thesis visualizes Wooster Square before and after renewal. In doing so, the thesis documents the destructive nature of the urban renewal approach and the violence that it inflicted on one of New Haven’s most marginalized groups.
Cite this version of the work
Giulia Paige Kiernan (2023). Urban Renewal as Violence: Documenting the Erasure of Wooster Square. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19284