On a recent trip to New Haven, CT for the Yale versus Cornell game, I had enough time after the game to visit one of the University’s art museum’s that was located down the road from the stadium, the Yale University Art Museum. This four story museum displays the history of art from all over the world. It is by no means a small museum gallery and you will need more than one afternoon this very detailed museum.
The Yale University Art Gallery at 1111 Chapel Street
I started on the first floor with their Ancient Art galleries featuring items from digs that the university sponsored over 100 years ago. There are works from the Ancient Near East, Egypt and Europe from tiles from Mesopotamia…
I took time from my walk to be a supportive Alumni and go up to New Haven, Connecticut for the Cornell versus Yale game on September 30, 2017. I also watched us get our butts kicked with the score 49-24. I swear, every time I thought we would catch up, we fell behind. We kept going through quarterbacks throughout the game.
It was even worse for the September 2019 game. We were tie with Yale, who does not look that good either, at 3-3 at half (I thought that was bad enough) but in the third quarter were lead 10-3 with an 85 yard run touchdown and looked really good. Then our quarterback threw an interception that lead to a Yale touchdown and at 10-10 he was so rattled by that, the game was never the same. He threw three more interceptions and we botched an onside kick (Cornell is not good at these, trust me!) and resulted in three more touchdowns for Yale.
We ended up losing 27-16 and it was not fun leaving that stadium. It was no big deal though because the students at Yale DO NOT support their football team and there was more people from Cornell at the stadium than Yalies and the Yale Bowl (their stadium), which is a relic of the 1920’s with uncomfortable wooden seats, was 80% empty.
The Yale Bowl (which only fills up for the Harvard Game)
In September 0f 2021, it was another spectacular day in the Yale Bowl but the renovations are not working so well and the seats are peeling again and the place looks worn down. The game was pathetic from both sides. Yale looked lackluster and we kept making so many mistakes. We lost again 17-23. Not exactly the blood bath we took in our previous games here but it was not much of a game.
What I find most insulting is that the food vendors at the game charge an arm and leg for food. Come on, a regular hot dog is $4.00 and a soda is $3.00? That is really gouging people especially ones using their credit cards. I just made my way down Chapel Street after the game and revisited some of the delis I had been to before. It was more than half price than at the game.
Still I got another amazing tan at the game and it was nice to just take the train up and then walk to the stadium to see if there were any changes along Chapel Street. There were a few more stores open in the downtown near the Yale campus and some homes had been renovated but not as many as I would have thought.
A lot has changed in New Haven since I lived there in the late Eighties. I lived in New Haven from 1988-1990 at a time the city was being revitalized during the boom of the early 80’s. I also saw what the Crash of 1987 would do to the city when the effects of the financial meltdown started to do to the economy. I lived on College Street at the time working at R.H. Macy on Church Street (where a college stands now).
The old Macy’s New Haven before it closed in 1994
Our little area was really nice around the Shubert Theater with lots of shops and restaurants but even those were affected by the economy as well as the store was in the end and it closed after I got promoted in 1990. The store closed with almost thirty years in service in 1994. Even though I moved from the city twenty-seven years ago, I still consider it in my own way ‘home’. There is always a piece of me in all the places I have lived in the past. There still is a part of me in the city. Going up for the Cornell-Yale game has given me an excuse to visit New Haven in the last six years.
I was lucky to make the 9:02am train out of Grand Central and arrived in New Haven at 11:20am. Walking through the train station brought back a lot of memories for me as I used to head home every Sunday for dinner with my family the first year I lived there. I watched the station get renovated in 1989 and morph to what it is now with the vaulted ceilings and the specialty shops. It is the weirdest thing about the city. They have the most beautiful train station and then the city builds public housing right across the street from it.
When I visited in 2021, all the public housing that was across the street from the train station has since been knocked down. It will be interesting to see what gets built as this side of town by the Nine Block has gotten more desirable and more built up.
For me, stepping out of the station brings back a flood of memories for me. As I walked from the station to downtown a few blocks away it reminded me of the first time I truly became independent as an adult with my first real job and my first apartment alone. I still had the feeling when I exited the train station in 2021. The memories just keep flooding back.
In 2019, driving up I-95 was the worst experience. I teach college now on Saturdays and we finished class a little earlier today so I got on the road in plenty of time for the game but a few trucks not doing the speed limit backed traffic up for almost a half hour. I took the Merritt Parkway back and it was a much more pleasant experience. It is a much nicer highway to drive down with less traffic. Plus it is tree lined.
The beauty of the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut
I walked to Church, Chapel and College Streets now and it is so much different. New Haven has become a restaurant and shopping destination. So many independent restaurants have opened to much acclaim and many small creative shops have opened up along the Chapel Street corridor. I was able to pop in here and there before the game.
I was able to walk around the ‘Nine Block’ of downtown New Haven, which is where the city was founded around the famous ‘Green’. When I lived there, this was an area of cut rate stores and empty historical buildings. To have the hindsight thirty years later but being the home to Yale University, I figured eventually in time this area would gentrify strong.
It is now home to many top-rated restaurants, shops and the most beautiful lofts. The buildings have been sandblasted back to their original beauty and its just fun to walk around and look at the architecture from the 1800’s. The city and the buildings owners have done a wonderful job bringing this area back to life. It is worth the afternoon to just look around the lower downtown.
I walked all around the ‘Green’ and not too much has changed over the years as way of the park. It has been fixed up and reseeded but still picturesque. The office buildings still add to the backdrop of the park. What has changed is the quality of the stores and restaurants over the years that line Chapel Street next to the Yale campus. They have gotten a lot more fancy and expensive, much more than when I was there.
Chapel Street seems to have become the new ‘Columbus Avenue’ of New Haven (terminology is based on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan when it went upscale in the 1980’s and 1990’s). From Church Street downtown to the edge of the Yale campus on Dwight Avenue is lined with new restaurants, shops, art galleries and upscale boutique hotels. Even the area between campus and the stadium, which has seen better days has changed. The extension of the hospital has turned everything from Orchard Street to Yale Avenue by the Yale Bowl into “Upper Chapel Street”.
Chapel Street by the Yale Campus
You can see this is an up and coming neighborhood, lined with Victorian homes that are now being snatched up and renovated. It must have been some neighborhood back between the 1880’s to the 1920’s. It is still pretty run down but here and there especially around the new hospital extension things are changing. Homes along Edgewood Park on and off Chapel Street are starting to get spruced up and landscaped. You can tell this is the time to buy in that neighborhood.
I passed old haunts of mine from back in the 80’s that are still in business. Willoughby’s Coffee and Tea was still there at 258 Church Street, where I went for late night snacks. I thought it was in another location but still here. The Owl Shop at 268 College Street was still there as well but is now a dining place as well as a smoke shop.
Claire’s Corner Copia at 1000 Chapel Street still stood on the corner of College Street and Chapel Street, where I used to go for my morning sugar fix. Claire herself still mans the counter after all these years. Further up Chapel Street is Union League Café at 1032 Chapel Street, where I took many special employees from Macy’s for a meal when they did something special.
In 2021, I took the 9:02am train again so I had didn’t have much time for breakfast that morning trying to catch the bus into the City and then walk to Grand Central to catch the train. Still it was a spectacular sunny day and watching all those towns at stops I knew so well pass by. I could not believe how Stanford and Bridgeport have changed. They are so built up now.
When I arrived in New Haven, I made my way up Chapel Street on my way to the stadium and stopped at a cute bakery called Four Flours at 1203 Chapel Street for breakfast. I had the most amazing Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich on a freshly baked roll. They put a spicy Jalapeno Cheese on it that really made the sandwich. The baked goods looked good too.
The place is really cute inside and out.
Four Flours at 1203 Chapel Street (Closed August 2022)
When stopped for lunch before the game in 2019 it was one of the most famous restaurants in New Haven and was right around the corner from me, Louis Lunch at 261 Crown Street (See review on TripAdvisor). It was a block from where I lived at the Taft Apartments and in the two years I lived there, I never ate there. The food was excellent.
Louis Lunch at 261 Crown Street
Their hamburgers are legendary in the food world and Louis Lunch has been written up in countless reviews, blogs and articles on the best hamburgers in the country. I got their at opening at 12:00pm and there was already fifteen people in line. It does go quick though and my suggestion is to order the burger medium well and then it comes out perfect.
They are right about one thing, the burgers do not need ketchup. One slice of fresh tomato adds to the complexity of the flavor. It has a crisp, caramelized salty flavor to the outside and a juicy meaty center. This is not your typical burger and is worth the $8.00 and change I paid for it and the Pepsi. The restaurant is an institution in New Haven and should be tried at least once when visiting the city.
Louis Lunch for Hamburgers!
I then continued up Chapel Street to the stadium. The upper parts of Chapel Street start to give way from the college campus to residential homes, more like Victorian mansions and you can see the wealth that once dominated the northern part of the Yale campus.
Yale Bowl Stadium is unusual for such a wealthy endowed school. It looks more like a prep-school, high school field. For a team with such an hollowed reputation and the team doing so well the last few years, I think the stadium, even after the renovation, is falling apart. It has the most uncomfortable wooden seating and I am still afraid of getting splinters from the place.
That did not stop the team from running all over Cornell. I have to admit for every play we had up our sleeves, they had two to counter act it. They really are a good team. Even though we tried to put up a good fight, we made too many mistakes and the second half of the game, we were done. We lost the game 49-24 n 2017. We really need to work on our offensive. At least the Yalies were good sports about it.
The Game Highlights
In 2019, they ran over us again only because we kept THROWING THEM THE BALL! I know that the quarterback was rattled by the first interception but recover from it! It is just a play! The fourth quarter in 2019 was painful. At least the $4.00 hot dog and $2.00 bag of chips for lunch tasted good. Because of the ride up there was no time to eat anywhere else and make the game. Their concession stand (and parking $10.00 for a spot by the Field Hockey stadium) was pricey but no different from other stadiums.
The one thing about Yale that I have found with most of the Ivy league games I go to is that none of the students seem to want to go to the game. We always sit in empty stadiums. When I visit the Penn Stadium, Cornell dominates the stadium both with the band and the Alumni. Columbia the same way. Cornell seems to be getting a more loyal following (in hopes of a winning season). The Yale game was no different. I think there were more of us then there were of them and they were home. Most of the people in the stadium looked like the parents of the players than the students.
After the very disappointing result (both times), I walked back into the downtown, taking peeks at the side streets to look at the graceful homes. For all of you home flippers reading this, buy in this area NOW! It will be hot, hot, hot in the next two years as it is already starting. I really do believe that people are moving back into New Haven.
I turned around ‘the Green’ and looked at the downtown one more time. For the most part, it had not really changed in twenty years. By walking the city streets, I could tell it was a lot more vibrant than it was when I lived there and for the better. I am proud of the city I once called home for working so hard to improve it.
My last stop of the day in both 2017 and 2019 was at Frank Pepe Pizzeria at 157 Wooster Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor both in 2017 and 2019) in the heart of the city’s ‘Little Italy’. I had not eaten here in twenty seven years. My first and last time dining there until today was my last night living there. My buddy manager at Macy’s, Rose, had taken me here for dinner with her fiancé, Kenny. The Pepe’s vs Sally’s conversation is one that I have had with many a Yale Alumni.
The restaurant has morphed into a small chain over the years of about eight restaurants but the original is still iconic. I had the 12 inch Clam Pizza with a Coke and it is the best $20.00 (with tip) that I had spent in a long time. The clams are so sweet and fresh tasting on that pizza that it was worth the wait in line for it. People were so happy to be eating there and wait staff is extremely friendly. It is worth the trip to Wooster Street.
Frank Pepe’s Clam pizza is the best!
I had dessert at Libby’s next door at 139 Wooster Street (see review on TripAdvisor) and is worth bypassing. The $4.00 soggy cannoli was just not worth it and you can not even buy individual cookies. The place needs a renovation as well.
Wooster Street and the area that surrounds it has improved over the years like the rest of the city. Many of the homes and businesses have been fixed up and the factory when you cross the bridge to this area of the city has been turned into lofts. You know where this neighborhood is heading. You could see it in the cars in the parking lot.
I left Wooster Street to head back to downtown and to the train station to my way back to New York City. The streets were quiet except for a few diners leaving restaurants and the walk back to railroad station didn’t seem as dangerous as everyone says. No one was walking around at 8:00pm at night.
In 2019, I took a drive up Chapel Street and parked by the Green. I walked all over downtown watching it come to life. A lot more people from the suburbs are coming into New Haven to dine and shop than ever before. With all the housing going up in the downtown area, more people will be milling around.
In 2021, I had been walking all over Downtown New Haven surprised at what a restaurant city New Have had become. I could not believe that Chapel Street and the surrounding streets around the Yale campus had changed so much. It was all trendy restaurants and shops.
I walked around the Yale University Art Gallery at 1111 Chapel Street. It was funny to finally go there. After all the years of living in town and then visiting I never had a chance to see it. Since the game was over by 3:00pm, I was able to sneak in for the last hour and a half. What an interesting museum.
The bottom level was all ancient art from the University’s digs at the turn of the last century. This and the Middle Ages art was on the rest of the first floor. On the Upper Floors was art from Africa, Asia and then the modern art on the upper floors. There was an exhibition on “Women Artists of Yale over 150 Years” on the top floor featuring artist from the Art School. I was able to race through all the floors before it closed at 6:00pm.
The Ancient Art Galleries at the Yale University Art Gallery
After the museum, I was getting starved and walked around to find someplace interesting to eat. Deep down I wanted to go back to Pepe’s for that Clam Pizza but I wanted to see what else was around. By the time I convinced myself to go to Pepe’s it was too late. Both Pepe’s and Sally’s both had over an hour wait. Not only that but all over Wooster Street everything was a mob scene. So it was back to downtown.
What I thought was funny about the area is that all the old factories that were in the area were all knocked down and now is becoming expensive condos. Who knew that Little Italy was going to become so fashionable. It reminded me of what was going on up in Poughkeepsie.
I had passed a noodle house in the Nine Block and decided to try that instead. I ate that night at Ten Sounds Yunnan Noodle at 756 Chapel Street. The restaurant was located in the heart of the old Nine Block section of the City. The food was excellent.
I had the Steamed Gyoza with ground pork, the steamed Shrimp Shaomai, which were small open faced dumplings with little shrimps on top and then the Roast Pork buns. I was in the mood for Dim Sum. Everything was wonderful. So nicely cooked and spiced. The Roast Pork buns were a real treat accompanied by a hot sauce.
It was a wonderful dinner, and the restaurant was nicely designed and it had a real college crowd that evening. The students really dominated the restaurant, and it was nice to see everyone having such a good time. The music was wonderful as well.
It was dark when I walked back to the train station, but the streets were really quiet, and it was nice to see the changes in this part of the City. New Haven really is surprising. Just when you hear of all the problems you see another side of the City that is really impressive. The whole Nine Block is now all trendy restaurants and condos mixed in with all the older architecture.
It was a real treat to take a step back in time and see part of my past. I really loved living in New Haven, CT over twenty years ago and it still holds a special place in my heart being the beginning of my professional career. Okay things were not always perfect, but it was first real sense of adulthood in the ‘real world’.
Who knew a Yale/Cornell Game could bring this flood of memories back to me?
As for the next football game, GO BIG RED!
The disaster of the 2019 game/we just handed them of the game.
In 2021, it was another disappointed ending to a long day: