New Haven Dreams of Impossible Long Wharf

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Photo courtesy of Perkins-Eastman Presentation

If you don’t read the New Haven Independent or the New Haven Register, first of all… thank you. You don’t need “news.” You need unfounded opinions! And you’ve come to the right place.

But if you haven’t read, the City recently hired a firm to help develop the Long Wharf area, from its current dystopian hellscape into “five smaller districts that are walkable, attractive and ripe for commercial and residential development.”

Five Districts
Image courtesy New Haven Independent

First of all, some of us actually like dystopian hellscapes. I watched Mad Max like four times.

And yeah, sure, a series of interconnected districts sharing public parks and being walkable, bikable, and open to development sounds nice, but, uh, I don’t know if you know this, but the City actually hasn’t managed its money particularly well lately.

Soon, the design firm will give a sense of just how unaffordable this whole thing is.

So, Uh, Who is Paying For This?

The “city-hired designers for this project, Eric Fang and Stan Eckstut of EE&K, are responsible for Washington, D.C.‘s $2.5 billion waterfront makeover,” per the Independent.

Listen, I love New Haven. But we’re not D.C. We don’t have rich politicians hanging around here all the time. Unless you count that guy who drives the truck saying Jesus is liberal.

Meanwhile, the City is closing schools and pushing forward 11% tax increases cause the State is like, “Listen, New Haven, we love you, but if we don’t blow all our money on Hartford, it’s going to be a smoldering crater soon. Which would really ruin the aesthetic of West Hartford Center, don’t you think?”

The firm estimates that for every $1 of public investment, it would return $20.

I want to believe. Really, I do. But this is how people end up owning time shares.

Unless we can get one of those sweet sweet federal grants that pays for it. Then I say we do it. Let’s sexy up that waterfront.

Building on What We Have

The concept for the five districts is building upon what already exists in the Long Wharf area. For instance, the Innovation District is based on, uh, Assa Abloy. Maker of locks and lock-related things!

The Market District would put a large, open-air market in the area which currently serves as the parking lot for Long Wharf Theater. Finally, we can thrust the dagger into car owners once and for all.

Market Square
Image courtesy the New Haven Independent

Where will theater goers park?! IN HELL.

Or, y’know, we’ll figure something out.

The Parkway District would be nestled nicely between the massive I-95 highway exchange and the less massive Route 34 drop off which will maybe someday be not turned into a highway.

Parkway District
What kind of monster runs in jeans? Image courtesy the New Haven Independent

On the other side of the highway is the Harbor District, which “calls for the area around the new boathouse to be a ‘rowing pond’ for personal boat use; a new transit pier open to water taxies, tour boats and charter boats; a day pier for shorter visits and an inlet for larger ships; and a harbor park and a harbor garden to provide pedestrian-friendly greenspace for picnics and walking.”

Imagine a future… WITH THIS MANY BOATS.
Image courtesy the New Haven Independent

Based on the construction of the current Canal Boathouse, we can expect this plan to be done by 2074, just in time for our new Robot Overlords to transform into boats and really enjoy the new Harbor District.

What if we think outside the box?

Why Not a Velodrome?

The design firm recently held a meeting with New Haven residents who, unsurprisingly, had a lot of opinions about what should go there.

One idea pitched was a Velodrome, which is apparently not a sealed Colosseum where Christians are fed to lions, much to my chagrin.

It turns out it’s a cycling arena. Weird suggestion from Rick Mayer, of the World Cycling League, am I right? Totally out of left field.

Velodrome
By Adam.J.W.C. [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Artspace Executive Director Helen Kauder remarked that it’s “something of an omission” that artists have not bee consulted so far on placemaking.

And who will stand up for the Breadmakers? Where’s the Bread District, huh?

Okay. I am actually alright with artists being involved. Even though they smell weird, they are totally necessary for making sure public spaces don’t turn into joyless, utilitarian nightmares.

Let’s Build a Tunnel!

One of my favorite totally impossible ideas from all this is the idea of an underground tunnel stretching from Union Station to Long Wharf.

Bike Path
This guy is excited about sitting idly on a bike.
Photo courtesy Perkins-Eastman Presentation

Listen, I’d miss trying to avoid broken glass on my bike ride under the I-95 overpass as much as the next cyclist, but the idea of riding in tunnels is pretty great, and will prepare us all for the future, where I assume we’ll all live underground as mole people.

Moleman Earthquake Machine
I believe this is allowed under Fair Use, but I guess we’ll find out when I get sued.

I’m into it.

So… What’s Next?

We wait for a price tag, realize we can’t pay for it, and sigh deeply. In fact, the next Mayor should really be chosen based on how well they sigh deeply and wistfully. Might as well get used to it now!

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Most of the plan will never happen. Some of it will.

    I’m from Chicago, where virtually all of the lakefront is parkland and people spend serious money for water views. Something like that, on a far more modest scale, could happen here, providing the financing for part of the plan.

  2. They should get a caravan of trucks that all sell the same thing, $1.50 tacos, and have it park all along the harbor, I think that would be a cool use of the so-called long wharf. I would go there. I might even stay overnight if there were a nice hotel, like a la Quinta, where I could get both prostitutes and heroin.

    The future is now.

  3. Yes, let’s push out all those “evil” car owners who bought their cars at dealerships that have well paying jobs, produced by union auto workers in zero waste plants who support families while companies such as Honda continue to research ways of cutting auto emissions through new technology such as fuel cells, as he typed on his cell phone full of heavy metals and lead, sipping over priced coffee both made by slave labor and coffee beans grown from clear cutting the rainforest, with nets strung around the factory to catch the jumpers, and getting tax breaks by corrupt politicians to move electronics plants like Foxconn to Wisconsin pollute our environment here as well.

  4. Politicians occasionally toss off ideas about revitalizing Long Wharf, but thus far in my lifetime we’ve achieved a small war memorial, a rotating restaurant (as in rotating owners), a boathouse, and a long line of taco trucks.

    I-95 makes anything substantial necessarily not include waterfront–not that anyone wants to be there during low tide with a breeze blowing off the water. Even if we pretend the water is pristine, who is dumping millions of private dollars into a view of a highway? (Will there ever be sufficient public funds?) I suppose the windows could all face the other way, so long as they are bullet proof.

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