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Setting, Landscape, Architecture, and the Creation of Civic Space in the United States, 1790-1920
Peter Dobkin Hall John F. Kennedy School of Government' Harvard University

At the beginning of his pathbreaking study, The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic (1971), social historian David J. Rothman posed this question: Why did Americans in the Jacksonian era suddenly begin to construct and support institutions for the deviant and dependent members of the community? Why in the decades after 1820 did they all at once erect penitentiaries for the criminal, asylums for the insane, almshouses for the poor, orphan asylums for homeless children, and reformatories for delinquents? (xv). "Institutions," he wrote, "became places of first resort, the preferred solution to the problems of poverty, crime, delinquency, and insanity" (xv). The architecture of these institutions, Rothman continues, "became the central concern of reformers of the period" (83). They focused their attention on physical arrangements and carefully scheduling inmates' activities with the expectation these were central to the task of rehabilitation. These "advocates of moral architecture," Rothman wrote, did not see the impact of their work restricted to the deviant and dependent: they expected that penitentiaries, asylums, and other institutions would, by example and by virtue of their being based on "proper principles of social organization," would serve as models for society as a whole. These initiatives were framed by a peculiar sense of urgency that went well beyond concerns about the poor and the criminal. To the reformers, according to Rothman, "nothing less than the safety and future stability of the republic was at issue, the triumph of good over evil, of order over chaos" (85). Dependence and deviance, the reformers believed, were symptoms of a breakdown in traditional community. Through "moral architecture" and the practices associated with in, they hoped to "point the way to a reconstitution of the social structure" (84).

2 This essay argues that the wave of institution building so insightfully analyzed by Rothman actually began much earlier and, while motivated by the same desire to rehabilitate and reform, focused its energies not on the dependent, diseased, and deviant, but on society as a whole. The problems that penitentiaries and asylums sought to address were, I suggest, only the most extreme and dangerous symptoms of the breakdown of community and traditional authority that concerned certain religious and political leaders in the decades following the American Revolution. This earlier response, rather than creating specialized agencies that targeted selected portions of the population, sought to redesign the physical environment -- the setting, landscape, and architecture -- in which all Americans lived their public and private lives. The intentions and methods were similar: the Federal period reformers, like their Jacksonian successors, used "moral architecture" to reshape the values of their fellow citizens. In doing so, I argue, they created a unique kinds of public spaces that not only channeled and shaped the ways in which individuals pursued their economic and political interests, but also framed them in ways that made them affirm rather than negate community and authority. The Foundations of Community Community life rests on underlying shared values and agreements that are often unstated and barely recognized. They are shaped by religious and cultural traditions or by the exigencies of a group's living situation that have created ways of doing things that powerfully shape organizational patterns, willingness to volunteer and participate, feelings of legitimacy in government and safety in the face of authority. Social activities that Talcott Parsons called “latent pattern maintenance” are the topic here: religious practices, civic rituals, and the development of the symbolism of community. The goal of this chapter is to bring to the surface data, arguments, and concepts about how these factors shape community structure. Although social scientists often refer to “traditional communities” in the United States, the reality is that most American communities were intentional ones. Unlike other countries, where collectivities were deeply rooted in ethnic identity and place, from colonial times onward,

3 immigration -- whether trans-Atlantic or internal -- offered Americans opportunities to make choices about the kinds of communities they wanted to live in. This capacity of choice was not only a product of place, but of historical moment. From the seventeenth century on, as philosophers, jurists, and theologians challenged (or defended) the feudal order, concerns about the nature of political, social, and religious communities moved to the forefront of interest. The opportunity for colonization of new lands shifted this interest from the domain of theory to the domain of practical experiments in creating new kinds of communities. The extent to which religious belief moved people to migrate and to form new collectivities gave the question of community a particular urgency. As John Winthrop's remarkable homily to the Massachusetts Bay colonists, while still on board the ship that had carried through the perils of the Atlantic suggests, the nature of the new community the little band intended to create, the extent to which it would embody their beliefs, and its place in God's ultimate plan for mankind, was at the forefront of their concerns. For groups moved by religious belief, scripture and theology were the source not only for defining man's place in the cosmos, but for spelling out the nature of community, the kinds of obligations believers had to one another and to unbelievers, the character of family life, as well as aspects of everyday life, including food ways, parenting, and sexual practices. The intentionality of early American communities is evident from the beginning. Most settlements were based on charter documents. Some were corporate charters, like those of the Massachusetts Bay Company or Virginia Company. Others, like the Connecticut Charter, created colony leaders as a body politic and empowered them to delegate property and political authority in specified ways. Still others, like the charter awarding Pennsylvania to William Penn, set forth the nature and extent of the proprietor's powers. In virtually every case, colonial settle, and character of local communities.

4 Although nearly all the settlers of the east coast of North America were English Protestants and the charters on which their settlements were based were products of English law, there was remarkable variation in the kinds of communities the colonists created. Some of this variation was due to preferences stemming from the settlers' origins: because most of Massachusetts's leaders came from manorial villages, the township was adopted as the basic unit of political organization. Because Virginia's leaders came from England's land-owning gentry, the plantation and the county became the basic units of organization. Other variations stemmed from economic differences. Parts of the South that favored the growth of commodity agriculture also favored the plantation agriculture. The climate, soil, and topography of New England, on the other hand, favored subsistence agriculture, small-scale farming, and, on the coast, such sea faring occupations as fishing and trade. Religious differences introduced additional variations. In colonies with established churches (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Virginia), church, clergy, and worship were central to social and political life of communities. In colonies like Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, which tolerated religious diversity, the social and political centrality and influence of the church depended on the preferences of local communities. How long did it take for the relatively free intentionality of colonial settlements to become institutionalized and embedded in established and authoritative practices? Certainly the colonies' disconnection from England during and after the Puritan Revolution (1640-1660), as well as the isolation of inland settlements, helped to give practices originally chosen the aura of authority. The consolidation of political, economic, and religious leadership in the hands of leading families also played a role. By the end of the seventeenth century, the same names begin to appear year after year, decade after decade, as members of legislatures, courts, and town councils. The standing of families was enshrined in how worshipers were seated in church and listed on college catalogs. At the same time, these communities remained far from traditional in the European sense. Founded in law rather than in kinship and loyalty, fundamental social arrangements were vulnerable to challenge. The colonial economy also threatened permanence and stability. British

And spurns the mining flood. The world around him: all the race beside. and every right Dispensed alike to all. Despite the increasingly unstable nature of the late colonial social order. adjusted all its weal (In Parrington. and rage. Reason's sway Elective. In little farms They measur'd all thy realms. And forming hand. founded on the rock of truth. Like brood of ostrich. religious conflicts were inevitably political in character. and pride. Outside of New England. Indigenous and imported evangelicalism threatened religious establishments and clerical authority beginning in the 1730s. with its overall equality and harmony: Our Sires established. and sloth. colonists settled on scattered plantations. I: 335). . left for chance to rear. Mercantilism created new economic opportunities. smil'd The heav'n inviting church. in every hamlet rose The nurturing school. man has seen. no entail The first-born lifting into bloated pomp. The noblest institutions. Greenfield Hill (1793) celebrated the traditional New England community. Connecticut clergyman-poet Timothy Dwight's epic poem. Since time he reign began. 1969. peace. that mocks the battering storm.5 efforts to reintegrate the colonies into the mother country's trading system disrupted legal and political arrangements (the suspension of colonial charters & the appointment of new cadres of royal officials with authority over local leaders). Dwight elaborated on the unique character of American communities in his Travels in New England and New York (1821). Religion contained disruptive potential. Beneath their eye. to every child In equal shares descending. Wisdom their guide. in thy cheerful bounds. They built with strength.187-88). “each placing his house where his own convenience dictated” (Dwight 1821. with order. and every town A world within itself. By the early decades of the eighteenth century. the hegemony of landed wealth was threatened by challenges from new men whose wealth was derived from trade and royal favor. Tainting with lust. And harmony. And every foot to trample. and equal good their end. And in setting where religious was established by law. in every village. pp.

and refinement of character and life must necessarily be a stranger" (I: 336). the system was. rough. particularly the breakdown of older forms of community and authority and the legal and political legitimation of unrestrained individualism. forbidding." wrote Dwight. the though that one's self. The state constitutions adopted after the Revolution not only broke the power of religious establishments . Every child is carried to the church from the cradle. All the people are neighbors: social beings. Rather than describing a reality. can without difficulty be either built by the planters or supported. “subject to serious disadvantages” (I: 336): Neither schools. and even the noble designs of a generous disposition.6 While this was convenient for the planter. harmonious. according to Dwight. “The state of manner. are mutually causes and effects. . nor leaves the church but for the grave. presents a direct contrast to this picture. Dwight was projecting an ideal of community that he and his associates held forth as a model for the future development of American society. mingle minds. are too distant from the spot to derive any material benefit. and every village has its church. cherish sentiments. and that of the mind. sympathize. the Vatican of New England Congregationalism. The children must be too remote from the school and the families from the Church. Almost the whole country is covered with villages. stable communities that Dwight celebrated did not exist in 1793 -. will be distant. the more liberal dispositions of frugality. nor churches. write. and are subjects of at least some degree of refinement (I: 338). gross. Timothy Dwight viewed with alarm the consequences of the American Revolution. (I: 336). feel. . and universally disagreeable. Without public institutions or opportunities for social intercourse. not to discourage all strenuous efforts to provide these interesting accommodations. A nation planted in this manner can scarcely be more than half civilized. the settled. Whenever it is proposed to erect either of them.” Dwight continued. can read. solitary. prosperous. like the manners.and may never have existed. Nearly every child. and one's own family. and as head of Connecticut's Federalist Party --. and its suit of schools. in considerable numbers. will check the feeble relenting of avarice. community would fail to develop. "New England. even those of beggars and blacks. and keep accounts. American Independence and the Crisis of Authority As president of Yale College. In reality. converse. The mind.

demand no toil."Infidels. As weeds. in the form of adherents of foreign radicalism. not good. and laborers. political freedom can never be long enjoyed. that Infidelity is hostile to all public and personal happiness. Americans were falling away from organized religion in droves in the decades following the Revolution. self-sown. Root deep.freedoms were that both ratified and extended by the U. But flourish in their native soil. In his view. but also enabled citizens to pursue their economic and political interests with a minimum of restraints -. reason alone was insufficient as a basis for public order. had to be cultivated and guided by virtuous leaders.the "wealthy. . Conservatives' fears were not unfounded. "The influence of the French Revolution. learned. Dwight suggested that character. Decent. "for a time threatened us with moral ruin. not as a matter of rational choice. grown high. were flocking to support the Jeffersonians -. led by Thomas Jefferson. which coincided with the emergence of an organized political opposition. secularize education.who proposed to abolish religious establishments. Vain hope! by reason's power alone. inborn. And send forth poison like perfume. my reason make him. So faults." Dwight wrote. Farmers. the republic required citizens who were virtuous as a matter of habit. Constitution. of this revolution would only be baleful to his own country (I: 384-285). These fears were intensified by the French Revolution. with vigor bloom. spontaneous rise. like a garden. In Greenfield Hill." Dwight called them -. In fact. and broaden political participation to include the propertyless. From guilt no heart was ever won. and that a connection with the leaders." until its excesses persuaded every wise and dispassionate man saw with conviction. and disciples.S. but also from within. and respectable" who looked to men like Timothy Dwight as leaders. even in conservative bastions like Connecticut and Massachusetts. in the form of unfettered individualism.7 in many states. artisans. barely one in ten Americans belonged to any church by 1800 (Finke & Stark 1992). which was determined to break the power of the Standing Order -. By some estimates. The threat that concerned Dwight and his associates came not only from without. that without the influence of Religion.

with neither toil nor care. a composure of mind and of art. and pain. Dwight sketched out a conception of didactic landscape in ways that seem to have guided his actions once he arrived in New Haven. within the larger design of the poem. your fervent prayers to HEAVEN (Dwight. In Greenfield Hill. of human purposes with providential ones. published the year Dwight assumed the presidency of Yale. Habits alone thro' life endure. and care. Virtues. of land and sea. Historian Peter Briggs calls attention to Dwight's understanding of the "affective dimension to scenery" and the ways in which it "reflected the emotions and imaginative qualities of its artistic maker. and rear. The gardener's careful hand must sow. Transferred from regions more refined. from realms divine. and. . landscape. To these. for the Connecticut of the future may be threatened by internal dissention or by vices and corruptions engendered by its current prosperity" (367). 183-184). and architecture were both metaphors for public order and means to creating it. And blessings fall. Much time. and toil. Rains gently shower." while simultaneously shaping the "perceptions and feelings of its beholders" (Briggs 1988. 366-367). Habits alone your child secure. of beauty and usefulness.8 And daily wax in strength and size. And choke each germ of virtue there." these idealizations are tempered with an awareness of human fallibility and historical tragedy (Briggs 1988. Must virtue's habits plant. like plants of nobler kind. To these be all your labors given. skies softly shine. 361). "In Dwight's presentation celebration and warning are nearly simultaneous. physical setting. His culturing hand must bid them grow. Ripen. While the poem celebrates "not only orderliness. but also the essential unity of groves and fields. for this generation of conservative leaders. It is no coincidence that Dwight chose to use gardening and landscaping metaphors to frame his ideas about civic order.

for military parades.of an Indian. political and civil life of the surrounding community. he viewed the Green -.the impressive sixteen acre square in the center of the town -. other structures were erected. for within its limits six generations educated their children and buried their dead. but as a place for public an opportunity to create an ideal landscape that would both be beautiful and didactic. Hence New Haven Green has been identified. purposes to which the Forum. swine.” according to Center Church pastor and Yale Divinity School Professor Leonard Bacon. In the mid-eighteenth century." Stocks and a whipping post were erected on the Square within months of first settlement and. 15). As he assumed the mantle of civic leadership in New Haven. “was designated not as a park or a mere pleasure ground. and "horsekind" grazed. embodying within it the historical and moral lessons he wished to impart to the citizens of the city and the new republic. 10). sloping from west to east. and a "prison house. it was the site of the colony's first execution -. been put to more uses than Doctor Bacon enumerates. The "Public Square. for the concourse of the people. Following English tradition. for the meeting of buyers and sellers. halting efforts were made to improve the appearance of what was coming to be known as the . the Green served a wide variety of public purposes: “The Green." At the foot of the slope " was a swamp occupying the greater part of the lower Green. the Green remained a treeless space with an irregular surface "rough with stumps and stones" on which geese. p. by the fall of 1639. the Agora. the area around the Meeting House became the town's burial ground. a structure which housed the town's religious congregation and its civil government. with all the important transactions and events connected with the religious.9 In his poem. and so is richer in associations of a local character" (Blake 1898.” a nineteenth century chronicler noted. in fact. to a degree that the Boston Common has not. “It has. "whose head was cut off and pitched upon a pole in the market place" (Blake 1898. for all such public uses as were reserved of old by the Forum at Rome and the ‘Agora’ at Athens” (quoted in Blake 1898. By mid-century. 10). and the market place were not devoted. was "an uneven wooded plain." to accommodate New Haven's watchmen. including a "watch house. A part of New Haven's original town plan. the Meeting House was completed." as it was originally known." Despite these improvements. cattle. and which practically complete the range of possible uses of a public nature. Dwight was portraying an existing landscape. Shortly afterwards.

cut across it diagonally to a tavern. along with a court house and school house. and the jail. The New Haven Green in 1748. Miscellaneous smaller structures include the Hopkins Grammar School. painted red. This central space is dominated by the Meeting House. Behind the meeting house is the cemetery. The road from Litchfield and the west. a rough board fence. a second church was built.10 Green: buttonwoods and elms were planted. the Green "was entirely unenclosed and was used as a thoroughfare for all sorts of travel. was constructed around the burial ground. Another rutted road cut acrossit . Yale's scattered buildings stand to the north of the Green. the court house. When Dwight arrived in New Haven to take charge of the college. which housed the town's church and government.

and leading New Haven real estate developer. More than being a space in need of improvement. sheltered farmers stalls. Dwight began envisioning ambitious plans for the Green. the burying ground would have to be moved. Buildings on the upper Green included the court house. The Green itself would have to be regraded. Both saw the possibilities to using setting. if properly designed." the rallying point for rebellious demonstrations during the Revolution. a panorama unplanned individual and collective activities. and two churches. The lower Green remained a swampy and unimproved wilderness on which cattle grazed. Yale's Treasurer. And. the Green was a metaphor for the lamentable state of civic order and the possibilities for its transformation: this central public space. Because they were not starting with a blank slate. but was legally the property of an ancient and almost forgotten body. Center Church surrounded by the burial ground. Federalist leader. Both were steeped in English landscape and gardening literature and interested in architecture. when an English royal governor had threatened to take possession of all lands held by municipalities. the jail. To prevent .11 from north to south. could embody Dwight's vision of a new republican civic order. The Proprietors of the Common and Undivided Lands. The first order of business was to establish legally who had authority over the Green. As long as decisions about its design were subject to the uncertainties of the democratic process. Hillhouse argued that realized the Green did not belong to the city. its swampy places filled and its stumps and rocks removed. landscape. and architecture to express their civic vision and to shape public values. The stocks and whipping post were gone. erected in 1785. overgrown with weeds and crowded with tombstones. most difficult of all. At its southeast corner stood a pen for swine. Public authorities would have to be persuaded to raze or relocate structures irrelevant to civic purposes. replaced by a "liberty pole. Churches would have to rebuild edifaces in styles appropriate to the Green's new purposes. they understood that transforming the Green would be a long-term project. could be turned into a model which. implementation of Dwight's and Hillhouse's plans would be subject to endless delays. Groups of this kind had been set up throughout New England in the 1670s. Working with James Hillhouse. A market house.

regrade. By 1812. Hillhouse was given permission to drain. in fact. Hillhouse also began planting the elm trees that would. towns had transferred ownership of town lands to their citizens as a body.000 from a variety of donors. While nominally democratic. This gave him the power to restrict its use to purely civic purposes and to transform it into a space that embodied his vision of a new civic order. They had been active as long as the towns had substantial undistributed common lands. In a stroke. This five member self-perpetuating group was empowered to make decisions about the activities and structures permitted on the Green.on the Green. This differentiation of the public domain of democratic government from the private civic domain would become a hallmark of community life in many American communities. for all practical purposes. by the end of the nineteenth century. In 1798. and artisans -.a task for which he raised $2. The following year. the old churches had been razed and construction of the three new edifices was well underway. become the city's hallmark. the two Congregationalist churches designed in high Classical Revival style by Asher Benjamin and Ithiel Towne -. be in the hands of the wealthy. Hillhouse had privatized governance of New Haven's most important public space. Hillhouse was able to boldly move to create a corporation that assumed their rights.the .who were attracting growing numbers of the city's prosperous merchants. He engineered the town's grant of permission to the Episcopalians -. when he received permission to plant trees and to “rail both sections of the Green without expense to the city” – with funds from private donors. ceased to exist as a legal entity. Hillhouse also undertook the longer-term process of persuading the two congregations then located on the Green to raze their old buildings and replace them with new ones. Because New Haven’s Proprietors had not met in nearly a century and had. and fence the Green -.perhaps to two most notable American architects of the period -. learned. and respectable merchants and professionals who presided over the city's businesses and eleemosynary institutions.12 this. professionals. Resistance to this scheme was doubtless allayed by Hillhouse's willingness to mobilize private funds to initiate improvements to the Green. this civic regime assured that real power would.

and neglected. beliefs. The rituals and ceremonies that took place in the iterated and affirmed those beliefs: funerals. but a new kind of burial space. and . First Congregational/Center (1812-15). New Haven. and United Congregational (1812-15)." depicts the three recently completed edifices (from left to right) of Trinity Episcopal (1813-14). the three churches occupied the center of the Green. and history. Doing this required not only the creation of a new burial space. weed-grown. Aligned along newly laid out Temple Street. Although New Haven's burial ground was unsightly. Burial places are more than spatial and architectural embodiments of a communities values. “perhaps the only correct specimen” of Gothic architecture in the United States at the time). in Dwight's view. (It was.13 Episcopal Church in Gothic Revival style by Towne. City of the Living and City of the Dead The most difficult task of all involved the unsightly burial ground that occupied the center of the Green. "A Large View of the Three Houses of Public Worship on the Public Square. it also occupied a central place in the lives of the citizenry. processions.

the Reformation transformed not only the role of the individual in this life. While memorializing the dead with individual burial plots marked with stones. it was also a common thoroughfare for bipeds. and the growth of modern legal ideas.” writes the Green's chronicler. As social anthropologist W. feathered and unfeathered. Before the Reformation century. what the persons of men are. Lloyd Warner wrote. and a nursery for unsightly and malodorous weeds and barberry . the colonists didn't hesitate to displace older graves or to place newer graves on top of older ones. interred like a precious object in a casket. but are places to mourn and memorialize them. which not only contain the dead. The corpse. and remembered individually with a permanent monument. In 1812. but the way he was treated in death. and capitalism economies. while the crypt of New Haven's Center Church contains 137 marked graves. as we learn from repeated town votes on record. New Haven's Center Church was built directly over a portion of the old town grave yard. Cemeteries accorded the deceased citizens the same respect and dignity that modern polities accorded them in life. The burial practices of colonial New Englanders represented a transition between traditional and modern practices. The stones and graves under the church were left undisturbed.000 graves by 1800. the vast majority of Europeans were buried anonymously in common graves. “are collective representations which reflect and express many of the community's basic beliefs and values about what kind of society is. but. became sacralized. and where each fits into the secular world of the living and the spiritual society of the dead” (Warner 1959. It is more than a burying ground. ground penetrating radar shows more than 1. democratic forms of government. set apart from areas used by the living. It is a planned space. when burial grounds became crowded. recent archaeological work has suggested that. The cemetery is a distinctly modern institution.14 patriotic rites. and for quadrupeds of grazing and rooting and burrowing propensities. only the titled and the well-to-do were memorialized (Colvin 1991).000 bodies lying in this small space (Center Church 2006). it is hardly surprising that it presented a distressing spectacle! “Burials were continued in the old ground. Today. 280). With its emphasis on the believer's personal relationship to God. Given the fact that the whole burial ground contained 5-10. and this was becoming not only more and more crowded with permanent occupants. once treated casually and anonymously.

Other contented themselves with less costly single graves. strenuous opposition developed. when placed in the center of a town. Many bought family plots in the new cemetery. in a gross and vulgar union with the ordinary business of life (Dwight 1821. without leadership or general support. venerable character. Some time later. The opposition was. 250). it is rendered too familiar to the eye to have any beneficial effect on the heart. and speedily loses all its connection with the invisible world.” But. From its proper. to say the least. At a public meeting in March of 1813. Hillhouse obtained a charter of incorporation for the New Haven Burial Ground -. 1898. These measures were not greeted with universal enthusiasm. I. and in the current of daily intercourse. when workmen began to excavate the trenches. 191). While the gravestones were removed. 1898. changing the town's burial practices came about because of Dwight's and Hillhouse's determination to use the cemetery as a way of transforming their fellow citizens' understanding of community and their place in it. “because in this manner it becomes a source of useful instruction and desirable impressions.the first private nonprofit cemetery in the world.15 bushes. were left where they were. 253). In December of 1812. and removed to the new cemetery. Once the new cemetery was established. it was soon withdrawn (Blake. criticizing traditional burial customs. however. Within a few years. bodies. With evident reluctance. it is degraded into a mere common object. in most cases. Though the disreputable condition of the burial place had been long recognized. . discreditable (Blake. when it became known that Center Church intended to build a new edifice over a portion of the old burial ground. a number of persons assembled with shovels and began to throw back the earth as fast as it was thrown out.” Dwight wrote that a burial ground should be a solemn object to man. p. and as the remains which were found were carefully preserved. he continued. “It is always desirable. so that its condition and appearance were. citizens ultimately bowed to the inevitable. a petition signed by 178 angry citizens denounced the proposed location of the building. In 1796. Dwight and Hillhouse persuaded New Haven's government to enact an ordinance forbidding further burials on the Green and authorizing the removal of the hundreds of monuments that had been placed there since the 1630s.

others are tables. purchased at the expense actually incurred. and a lot destined for the reception of the poor. The whole field. and against each an opening is made to admit a funeral procession. New Haveners began to take pride in it. it was a place not only where families could mourn the departed. universally. and the name of each proprietor is marked on the railing (192). At the divisions between the lots trees are set out in the alleys. and the college. . and enclosed.” then divided into parallelograms. Each family burying-ground is thirty-two feet in length and eighteen in breadth. traded (it was the location of the town's open-air market). “leveled. and secured by law from every civil process. Set apart from the “ordinary business of life. The cemetery's physical arrangement was intended to communicate the core values of the conservatives’ ideal society. The new burial ground was a planned space. The obelisks are placed. . where people worshipped (it was the location of the town's most important church). The didactic intentions of the cemetery's organizers extended to arrangements within particular lots. The cemetery itself represented society as a whole. and separated by alleys of sufficient breadth to permit carriages to pass each other. reflecting the city's leaders' egalitarian convictions: The monuments in his ground are almost universally of marble.16 as the new cemetery became one of the city's major tourist attractions. encompassing within it all elements of the community. It was. Ostentatious monuments and mausoleums were discouraged. on the middle line of the lots.” as a place for contemplation and edification. placed at the head and foot of the grave. and thus stand . the new cemetery was a place set apart from the bustle of everyday life. politicked and governed (it was the location of the State House). was distributed into family burying places. the deceased were arranged as members of congregations and families. Unlike New Haven's old burial ground on the Green. A considerable number are obelisks. handsomely railed. except for four lots given to the several congregations. and others slabs. . and conducted public ceremonies (the militia drilled there). within the cemetery. Each parallelogram is sixty-four feet in length. in which all citizens were encouraged to see themselves not as individuals. but ponder their place in the secular and sacred order. but as members of larger corporate groups. Dwight wrote.

Completing the Green The Green landscaped. within the same distance. The churches offered not only an impressive visual experience.17 in a line. are painted white. with spouses. in a situation singularly beautiful. and stand on a street one hundred feet wide. so beautiful and standing in so advantageous a position (Dwight. was modeled on it. visually affirming the patriarchal order of society. The bells. “The churches. Paris's famous Pere Lachaise cemetery. . 185). children. for each had its own bell by which citizens regulated their lives. fenced. presented an impressive spectacle. Family founders lay in the centers of lots. The projectors had other purposes as well. p. as were the famous urban necropolises of England and Scotland. The top of each post and the railing. throughout the parallelograms. “It is believed. are equally handsome. 192). older towns and cities reformed their burial practices along New Haven lines and newer settlements throughout the country followed suit. “that this cemetery is altogether a singularity in the world. The history of Yale could be read in the stones of its deceased presidents. and other descendants arrayed around them. . and as a touchstone for the community's history. and in no place can the same number of churches be found. .” Dwight wrote a quarter century after the cemetery's founding. the cemetery became a model for burial places throughout the United States and Western Europe. having an elegant square in front. .” Dwight wrote are all placed on the Western side of Temple Street. devoted to the same purpose on this side of the Atlantic. emulating European models. During the first half of the nineteenth century. but an auditory one as well. 1821. The cemetery was to serve as a civic pantheon. Few structures. wrote the Green's chronicler. . established in 1804. and feelings of succeeding generations” (192). The history of important families like the Trowbridges were displayed on monuments which recounted their lineage back to earliest settlement. . In fact. and students (whose monuments were moved from the Green into the College's lots). happily fitted to influence the views. successively. celebrating New Haven's leaders and heroes. p. organized Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1831. summoned citizens . and cleared of obstacles. faculty. The private corporate secular burial place idea came back to the United States when Bostonians. black (Dwight. the remainder of the post.

c. and in maintaining a uniform time for the community when clocks and watches were few" (Blake 1898. in voicing public sentiment whether of joy or grief. In the far background is Yale College. In the early nineteenth century. 35). which bisected the "Public Square. . as heralds of alarm when danger was pending. and political gatherings." Behind them are the three churches. (Source: Blake 1898). demarcate Temple Street. Center (Congregational). 1830.18 To religious. In the foreground. designed by Ithiel Town.became de facto the official style for such public buildings as churches and court houses throughout the nation. Hillhouse's elms. Further back is the Greek Revival State House. The impressive statement of civic order offered by the rehabilitated Green was enhanced in 1828 with the construction of a new State House in the Greek Revival Style. the Greek Revival Style -. and United (Congregational). civil. not yet grown to full size.identified with the ideals of ancient democracy -. The New Haven Green. Trinity (Episcopal).

like most successful enterprises. Nash writes. 17). As historian Gary Nash remarks in recounting the “forging of historical memory” in Philadelphia. it also represented a significant reinvention of the community’s past. This desire extended to the preservation of historic buildings. 2002. seemed to be pulling in every direction while forgetting their precious heritage. those who blazed the trails. and ambiguous. with its multitude of uses. and less materialistic past” (Nash. hoped “a historical society might spread the values of genteel culture and impart a shared sense of identity among Philadelphians who. to remember itself in selective ways (Nash. every society must fabricate and sustain creation stories. landscape. and nearly everyone craves knowledge about his or her beginnings -. 14). when the city's historical society and library began systematically collecting manuscripts and artifacts. Reinventing the past in this way was a powerful way of legitimating the new civic regime. The redesigned Green. and to the establishment of Laurel Hill Cemetery. offered a representation of the past in which church and state.” “By selecting and collecting the right historical materials.those who came first. as the elite created and controlled libraries and historical societies that made themselves the guardians of the community's history. in contrast. this power would be extended.its history was not written. more virtuous. complex. offered a representation of the past that was diverse. and . 2002. This drive to selectively remember took institutional form in the early nineteenth century. but displayed in the setting. p. No sooner was the colony well established than it began. In later years. those who did great deeds. like Independence Hall. defined the common good. While it would be many years before New Haven had an historical society (1860) and longer still before the publication of a municipal history (1887).” the founders hoped ‘they could restore a collective memory that might nurture unity and order as people reflected on a less trammeled.and for visitors to the city -. The Green before 1800. New Haven’s civic leaders were hardly alone in their desire to reimagine the community's past to serve the purposes of the present and future. These institution's founders. I the boisterous 1820s. for New Haven citizens -. under the control of enlightened and public-spirited leaders. p.19 If the Green offered a model of civic order for the present and future.

Repeated as a type over time. The straight broad streets. ultimately. p. readily visible from his house in the college yard: “Rarely is a more beautiful object presented to the eye -. Its governing board (until 1870) included the Governor.” Here Dwight's ideal of natural.” Vogt writes.and the best way to address them. In this period.representing the denomination that was. Dwight was tapping into long-held Puritan beliefs and traditions. 2004.20 architecture of the Green and its structures and in the monuments of worthies in the Grove Street Cemetery. “In equating physical propinquity with active civic life. it propagated a connected web of communities and improved the land toward human and. social and spiritual harmony was distilled in its most resonant image. The township was a corollary to the congregation. Throughout most of its history. Again.president and treasurer of the College -. 76). and six senior members of the state senate. 2004. a model of the type. “Dwight extolled the virtues of New England’s unique township system. p. Few places in the world present a fairer example of peace and good order" (Vogt.were the leading actors in the process of transformation. as well as ten self-perpetuating Congregationalist clergymen -. p. organized in rows of “neat and tidy” houses.I have never met with one -than the multitudes crossing the Green in different directions to the house of God. a self-centered body circumscribed in size and arrangement by its central meetinghouse and church. until 1817. Yale was regarded as a public institution. Dwight and Hillhouse -. ornamented by tree-filled 'courtyards in front and gardens in the rear. . he already had a clear vision of the challenges facing American society -.” notes architectural historian Erik Vogt. . . divine ends (Vogt. the renovation of the campus became a way of embodying his ideal of community. Yale's Campus: A Complementary Vision of Civic Order The Green's physical transformation was mirrored by the reconstruction of the adjacent Yale College campus. . “which not only ‘converted the wilderness into fruitful fields’ but also imparted to its inhabitants a strong social cohesion” (Vogt. “the handsomest ground of this nature which I have seen. shaded by Hillhouse's elms. .” Vogt continues. it had received generous support from the state. When Dwight was tapped by the Yale Corporation to head the college in 1795. 75).' At its center was the Green. Like the cemetery and the Green. 2004. Connecticut's established church. . for Dwight. “New Haven's clarity of form and grace of setting constituted. Lieutenant Governor. 76).

it could hardly be said to have a campus -. While students and classrooms were housed in the impressive three and a half story brick building given by the Colony in 1717.21 The campus Dwight planned and built was a microcosm of the many villages he had admired and described in his Travels. the rest of the block on which it stood was occupied by private residences and stores (see map on page 10). Though Yale had occupied portions of the area north of the Green since 1718. while students used the Green itself for recreation. until the 1750s. strove to create a Yale "yard" -.commonly understood to mean a clearly demarcated area occupied by a school or college. Inspired by Harvard's impressive buildings. The building was razed in 1782 and replaced by new structures that began to define the college's property as a campus. and common yard a fundamental pattern of communal order. who served as president from 1740 to 1767. Thomas Clap (17031767). Center Church served as the college chapel. The building stood on an acre and a quarter lot at the corner of today's Chapel and College Street. forming with its 'neat and tidy' houses. Dwight's predecessor. Shepherding the flock within the . spired chapels. The original "college house" erected in 1717 to house Yale College. The president's house stood across today's Chapel Street from the college.for reasons more "related to the life of the college than its appearance.

57). leaders of Center Church. Students. could enter into the life of the town and fall prey to its temptations and distractions. Although the new college square was self-contained. conduct." writes architectural historian Erik Vogt. Set off from the world on its own "island. Within. Trumbull's design projected enlarged the campus. The plan. a cultivated pastoral sanctuary that harbored its inhabitants in their Christian mission. . 65). In this regard. In addition to proposing buildings that would enclose a square very much like today's Old Campus. 57). James Hillhouse had begun pushing for the creation of a campus for Yale in the early 1790s. Members of the Corporation. in tandem with his efforts to transform the Green. making Yale the sole occupant of its own "self-contained block" (Vogt 2004. "The great flaw of the original College House. which enabled students to worship within the school. and many members of the legislature opposed his plans. the college as a sheltering retreat. a gathering place of pious repose where students were to conduct themselves with restraint and dignity (Vogt 2004. Students rebelled against his regime. Clap's vision of the college fell far short of reality. "was its proximity to the street. to develop a comprehensive campus plan that would include additional property and new buildings. its landscape visibly united it with New Haven's great common. Hillhouse's efforts to connect the campus and the Green took on deeper meaning. the towering elms knit them together as a continuous embowered garden (Vogt 2004. 64). a Harvard graduate. was laden with didactic intent: it was in this guise. and etiquette. 56). the old college hall would remain Yale's major structure until the 1780s and the boundaries between town and gown would remain permeable until the arrival of Timothy Dwight in 1795." including the currents of religious excitement associated with the Great Awakening that were shattering New England's religious communities (Vogt 2004." the campus was recreated as a type of Edenic harden. merely by crossing the threshold. He commissioned artist John Trumbull. Vogt suggests. Clap demarcated the college grounds with a fence (visible in the engraving above) and codified behavior in the college yard with an elaborate set of rules and fines governing noise. students who trespassed beyond its limits jeopardized their good standing. Trumbull designed an elegant landscape modeled on eighteenth century English picturesque gardens.22 campus bounds was his paramount concern" (Vogt 2004. the campus was to be a peaceable kingdom. The fence itself established a real and symbolic boundary between the town and college. that the plan's landscape design resonated with the larger theological meaning implicit in the sacred square [the Green]. While he succeeded in erecting a chapel adjacent to the college hall.

They embodied both the daily round of collegiate life and firmly established the communal order” (Vogt 2004. demarcated clearly defined distinction between “public and private realms within the college itself. Within the decade. Vogt might have added that the placement of Dwight’s house also affirmed his preeminent role as civic guardian. the faculty would set forth a bold plan of undergraduate education in the Yale Report of 1828. The house’s position embodied these responsibilities. This conflation of sacred and secular was reflected as well in the duties of the president. As Vogt notes. 68). but also of a far more ambitious effort to transform Yale into an institution for training the nation's leaders. which Dwight helped to spark. Yale’s enrollment doubled within ten years of his inauguration and had trebled by his death in 1817 – becoming the largest American college (Pierson 1983. 40 percent of Yale's matriculants were born outside of Connecticut and 75 percent settled outside the state after graduation (Hall.310). giving the president oversight not only of the campus. composed within its own selfcontained square” (Vogt 2004.23 “The architectural types of sacred chapel and secular dormitory. In contrast to the past. the college began implementing the TrumbullHillhouse plan in 1793. but of the city itself. This reordering of the campus was an expression not only of local civic values.” Vogt continues. the structure’s design and placement “could be read as a form of domesticated chapel. 70). 3-4). p. By the time of Dwight’s inauguration. With funding from the legislature. it reinforced the president’s role as community guardian. By 1820. giving him a constant watchful presence in the daily campus rituals” (72). under Dwight increasing numbers came from outside the state. This area expanded to include the entire frontage west of the Green when the college acquired land for a new president’s house. which included serving as college minister. 1982. conflating the types of temple and home” (72). Fueled by the second Great Awakening. The house stood at the highest point of ground. The house and its placement further elaborated Hillhouse’s and Dwight’s didactic vision. overlooking the Green from its northwest corner. by forming the northern edge of the college of the college yard. when most students came from Connecticut. which would . the Yale “yard” occupied half the block north of the Green with “ symmetrical row of halls.

strength. renders it highly important. that this bustle and energy should be directed by sound intelligence. the greater is the need of wise and skillful guidance. the result of deep thought and early discipline. religious dissenters were accommodated by Dwight’s and Hillhouse’s civic framework: the Episcopalians’ unorthodox choice of Gothic Revival style for Trinity Church was framed by the by the civic order of the Green itself.” to provide the values. they tended to center on squares that replicated the civic nucleus represented by the Green. In this country. so widely extended. . and architecture. constructed in 1812. not only in the social and geographical origins of its citizens. and opulence. it is necessary there should be a steady hand at the helm. as was the Methodists radically plain meeting house. superior intellectual attainments out not to be confined to any description of persons. While Congregationalism remained the state’s official religion until 1817. The greater the impulse to action. the “balance of character. to his country” in ways enabling “to diffuse the light of science among all classes of the community. Light and moderate learning is but poorly fitted to direct the energies of a nation. and catching the breezes. so rapidly advancing in population.24 declare its intention to supply its graduates with “the discipline and the furniture of the mind. enterprising character of our population. . .” “Our republican form of government. so powerful in resources. landscape. Where a free government gives full liberty to the human intellect to expand and operate. to his fellow citizens.” the Report continued. so New Haven held itself forth as a model of civic order – one in which values and behavior were more shaped by the physical structure and organization of the community than by coercive rules and regulations.” the Report concluded. When nearly all the ship's crew are aloft. this increasing individuation was inexorably framed and constrained by physical setting. The active. Just as Yale offered itself as a model for educating a democratic citizenry. . but also in their economic interests and religious preferences. where offices are accessible to all who are qualified for the. “renders it highly important that great numbers should enjoy the advantage of a thorough education. While the city became more heterogeneous over the years. so intelligent. education should be proportionally liberal and ample. As the city expanded and new neighborhoods were built.” that would enable them not only to successfully pursue their occupations. but to fulfill a broad range of duties “to his family. setting the topsails.

Hamilton. and the thirty-one others sit for the new western states (De Tocqueville. 294). Western Reserve. p. Part of the reason has to do with Yale's self-consciously embracing and effectively pursuing a role as an educator of leaders. Missouri. Oberlin. When New Englanders went west. they often sent their sons back to New England for schooling and apprentices and their daughters for husbands. Yale would become the ‘Mother of Colleges. and Connecticut in particular. Not only did they maintain on-going connections with relatives and friends. thus furnished one eighth of the whole body of representatives. The state of Connecticut itself. while their New England relatives often sent their sons west to seek their fortunes. 162). Wisconsin. Lafayette. While Harvard graduates tended to settle in Boston and other major cities. South Carolina. 1944. We were assured in 1830 that thirty-six of the members of Congress were born in the little state of Connecticut. where they inevitably became civic leaders. and Mississippi (Hall. Part of the reason has to do with demographic trends in New England generally. 68). Kenyon. The population of Connecticut. I: p.including Williams. Alabama. New York University.most of them modeled on their alma mater -. Middlebury. As Tocqueville noted. North Carolina. Louisiana. 1982. they did not cut their ties with their places of origin. Yale graduates dispersed to smaller towns and regional center. which constitutes only one forty-third part of that of the United States. the layout of campuses and their buildings would follow the Yale model (Vogt 2004. New England. Perhaps not surprisingly. Michigan.” its graduates fanning out across the country to establish some fifty institutions -. Some were religious. and the Model of Civic Community How is it that a small town like New Haven should have exercised such an extraordinary influence on shaping American communities? Part of the reason is the clarity and intensity of its leaders' vision of community and their desire to propagate it far and wide. and the Universities of Illinois. Transylvania. Georgia. Rutgers. A single fact will suffice to show the prodigious number of individuals who thus leave New England to settle in the wilds. however. all participated in a dense network of associations which spanned the country. Trinity. In the course of the nineteenth century. Moreover. the so-called “evangelical machinery” created by Dwight protégé Lyman Beecher and other Yale .25 New Haven. sends only five delegates to Congress.

31). Michigan. They now extend their influence beyond its limits. villages and towns replicated the New Haven model of a nucleus of churches and public buildings. if I may so speak. the township model of settlement became the standard. which. To stimulate interest in the college. New England's impact on communities throughout the country was recognized as early as the 1830s. usually designed in the Greek Revival Style. they interpenetrated the whole confederation. after it has diffused its warmth immediately around it. Historically. While New Englanders constructed national associational networks. over the whole American world. But as its graduates migrated to the West and South in ever greater numbers. Minnesota. the social and cultural life of these towns was defined by the activities of religious and secular associations. Throughout Ohio. Yale had depended on the generosity of the legislature and the citizens of New Haven for funding. and Wisconsin. like the lyceums -. when Alexis De Tocqueville wrote The principles of New England spread at first to the neighboring states. then they passed successively to the more distant one. Yale created an alumni association and encouraged graduating classes to convene regularly and published reports of their post-graduate careers. As the New England diaspora pushed westward through New York state and into the Midwest. when the college initiated its first general endowment fund drive. 1945. New Englanders thus constituted a larger kind of community that transcended locality. Others were secular. The civilization of New England has been like a beacon lit upon a hill. and at last.the national network of public lectures that brought notable speakers to the hinterlands. . Indiana. The leaders of institutions like Yale recognized this as early as they 1830s. p. their most visible impact was on the localities in which they settled. New England-trained teachers organized schools and academies which taught their lessons from school books written by Yale graduates like Noah Webster (whose “Blue Backed Speller” would sell 41 million copies by 1860). also tinges the distant horizon with its glow (De Tocqueville. Like New Haven.26 graduates. it recognized that its alumni and Christians who subscribed to the tenets of the “New Haven Theology” were potential supporters. Illinois.

like the movie and the grade and high schools. and the Yale campus as planned spaces charged with moral and didactic purposes. dentists' and veterinaries' offices. local differences. The Bishops. a Y." The other churches. Writing of the Midwest's rural towns in the mid-twentieth century.” Hutton continues.A. or Union has an office or chapter in the town. and other stores. “they follow a distinctive over-all pattern from Ohio to Minnesota or Missouri with but slight. . or other service clubs. two or three drug stores. landscaping. and professionals lived on or around the Green. If the rural town is the county seat. and architecture. if the town boasts one. on their respective days. and local functions take place. . manufacturers. ownership of large tracts to the north of the Green was divided between two families. There are often in the larger towns a Y. are usually a block or two from it. . . . Creating Neighborhood: Redefining Community in the Expanding City The creation of New Haven's first elite neighborhood. 1946. Until the 1820s. there will probably be a public library. a battery of lawyer's offices. barber shops and at least one beauty parlor. New Haven's wealthy merchants. if the town is large enough. the Grove Street Cemetery. though important. suggests that the creation of distinctive elite enclaves was an extension of the same process of community building that produced the Green. 80). and the houses of more humble folk. some taverns. On the mezzanine of the second floor is usually the local Chamber of Commerce. are the county buildings and courthouse.M.The first church -. clothing. Early in the century. Buffaloes. banquets are given. . the bank or banks. Here meet for lunch. as the town grew (Hutton 1946. p.” Along the sides of the square.27 This influence persisted. and. and the usual array of hardware.C. Lions. . their homes cheek-by-jowl with shops. Grange. the Rotarians.W. if the town is a county seat. . (Hutton. The Farm Bureau. the newspaper. as noted. the Hillhouse Quarter. The square and the buildings on it are both symbols of community and the backdrop for rituals and ceremonies of community solidarity. less generally. in contrast. led the translation of that ideal into planning. The Hillhouses closely identified themselves with the Federalist communitarian ideal and. taverns. . . an English journalist wrote. . 78-79). “There is always one leading hotel in or near the central crossroads. Kiwanis. .A.C. . the Hillhouses and the Bishops. offices. identified with the .Methodist or Presbyterian or Lutheran or Baptist or (more rarely) Episcopalian -. Elks. doctors'.is "on the square.

James Abraham Hillhouse took on the challenge of defining the role of hereditary leadership in a market democracy. he chose to respond to this challenge aesthetically. In the 1790s. Abraham Bishop (1763-1844) divided his New Haven holdings. A child of the ages of Jefferson and Jackson. In his father's time. They proceeded to lay out streets and to subdivide their properties into modest residential lots. learned. but the mantle of his father's civic preeminence. James Abraham's model of the elite urban neighborhood would be widely emulated as a way of symbolically articulating the place of elites in industrializing and urbanizing communities. and respectable could expect the unquestioning deference of their communities. London. and New York. Before his marriage. a process that would take decades to complete. the younger Hillhouse.28 Jeffersonian ideal of unfettered individualism. Much as his father's model of the town center and college campus would become national paradigms. the elder Hillhouse had sold a large part of his holdings to pioneer industrialist Eli Whitney (1765-1825). lying to the east of the Hartford Turnpike (now Whitney Avenue) among his three daughters and their husbands. landscape. and architecture. on the occasion of his marriage to New York heiress. By the younger Hillhouse’s time. economic and political revolution had empowered the “common man” who were united in their opposition to inherited privilege. James Hillhouse (1752-1832) gave his properties on the west side of the Turnpike to his son. proceeded to create a kind of industrial community that would not generally . had spent years in Boston. who had literary ambitions. through setting. the wealthy. Cornelia Lawrence. James Abraham Hillhouse (1789-1841). Their contrasting values would be embodied in the ways in which they developed their properties. who built his arms factory on New Haven's northern border. His father was a self-made man. In 1823. Like his father. the younger Hillhouse was preoccupied with the problem of leadership. he was an inheritor not only of wealth. Whitney. where he became familiar with the latest literary and architectural fashions.

was at odds with New England egalitarianism. . Highwood.based on Whitney's experience of southern plantations -. But he directed most of his attention to developing his own estate. Hillhouse began planting trees along the street. American communities. the intervening strip planted with trees and called "the Grove. p. with workers’ houses grouped around manufacturing and agricultural operations. . native trees which abounded in the area. he planted elms. It was to be an avenue of majestic width. Because this quasi-feudal model of urban industrial community -. was park-like. Though Whitney planned to build his own mansion as part of this complex. on his marriage. he moved to a house near the Green in downtown New Haven. In doing so. rather than clustered around dominant economic interests. and the area between it and downtown -. he drew an explicit symbolic connection between the Green and the new elite residential neighborhood. Well in advance of any clear plans for building. (Brown. ill health prevented him from doing so. it was generally not followed in the United States. having decided that his properties to the west of the Hartford Turnpike “should be developed as a place of beauty and architectural distinction.Hillhouse Avenue -. would generally be stratified by class. a tree distinctively associated with public and civic spaces. Rather than planting oaks. despite the strict initial Federal layout. recalling with its white temples and villas glimpsed through the trees such prototypes as Regent's Park in London. with houses set back 50 feet from the right of way. in a word." The overall effect. The vision of laying out family land holdings as large estates rather than modest residential subdivisions. 134). Though he lived with his workers for many years. The elder Hillhouse had anticipated the direction his son’s efforts might take as early as the 1790s. .” he laid out Temple Avenue (later renamed Hillhouse Avenue). when. was passed on from father to son. where public values and preferences favored mixed neighborhoods characterized by shared economic and social characteristics. a model urban neighborhood. The younger Hillhouse sold large properties along Whitney Avenue to a number of wealthy families. as the Bishops had done.29 serve as a national model: a self-sufficient industrial community.

too far for treetops to meet) grew into a horizontally proportioned grand corridor lit by a central channel of sky. dark and vertical. not only because one was religious and civic (its three churches and the Green) and the other residential. Temple's elms helped produce an environment of civic-minded spirituality. with its elms placed symmetrically just outside both sides of the roadbed (perhaps 45 feet separating their lines across the street) became a green cathedral. The town streets grew to become the city's most beautiful. then newly cut through the Green. thanks to Hillhouse. .” according to architectural historian Patrick Pinnell. Temple Street. because the tree crowns met overhead.. together.30 “Hillhouse's 1792 approach to the Avenue's elm planting was interestingly different form the one he had used in 1787 for the trees of Temple Street. define the city's essential nature (Pinnell 2004. 131). They had very different characters. indeed they large made New Haven's reputation as a beautiful city. their trees created distinct moods. Hillhouse Avenue. Both places resulted from the underlying notion that trees and buildings. the Avenue's trees pulled individual houses into civic unity. but because. its trees outside the street and sidewalk lines (hence their lines perhaps 90 feet apart.

runs diagonally from the Green toward East Rock (from left to right).31 New Haven. from Benhams 1847 City Directory. when James Abraham Hillhouse commissioned architect Alexander Jackson Davis to design his own mansion. The active development of Hillhouse Avenue began in 1828. The Hartford Turnpike. which . a Hillhouse enterprise. To the west of the Turnpike is the Hillhouse property. To the east of the Hartford Turnpike (now Whitney Avenue) lay the properties developed by the heirs of Democrat Abraham Bishop for modest homes and shops. The Green is at the center of the map. set apart “as a place of beauty and architectural distinction” for the development of substantial estates.

Davis himself favored less pretentious styles than the Greek Revival houses he designed for Hillhouse Avenue. does not cut it off from the mainstream of civic life. In this view. The fence – which lacks a gate. whose decorative motifs are identical to those on the Green. Rural Architecture. The street’s magnificent elms echo the elms on the Green. with our backs to the city. the house. His best-selling 1837 pattern book. we can glimpse James Abraham Hillhouse’s mansion. criticized “The bald and uninteresting aspect of our houses” and “the wasteful and tasteless expenditure of . Hillhouse Avenue c.32 would stand on Prospect Hill at the northern end of the avenue.. with its two-story Ionic portico. Davis would design five of the dozen houses built on Hillhouse Avenue during its initial development in the 1830s before going on to become “most successful and influential American architect of his generation” (Wikipedia. Inspired by a British publication. we are looking north.). N. At the end of the street. while demarcating this residential neighborhood from the rest of the city. Stuart and Revett's Antiquities of Athens (1762). Sachem’s Wood. became an iconic structure in the burgeoning Greek Revival Style. as does the fence in the foreground. 1850.D.

33 money in building" “hat they represented (Davis. the gazer sees Towers and white steeples o'er the trees. By the end of his tenure. Eventually his arguments proved persuasive and Hillhouse. he changed the name of his estate from the aristocratic “Highwood” to the more domesticated “Sachem's Wood. Mansions that peep from leafy bowers. When securely in power. 1). as such. In 1838. is inappropriate for country residences. While not abandoning its claims to leadership. Hours for the mind and body tell. and classic bell. its residences mirrored the styles of public buildings. New England’s elites seem to have reframed them by more clearly differentiating public and private domains. from this bench. And villas blooming close by ours. The shift to more purely residential architectural styles the late 1830s is symptomatic of the elite's shifting understanding of its relationship to the rest of society. and well adapted as it is to public edifices. with Notes (1838). a visual assertion of the elite's claims as a leadership class. he had definitively displaced old elites from political leadership nationally and locally. . and yet it is the only style ever attempted in our more costly habitations. the Greek Revival residences were an important symbolic link to the civic structures on the Green and. James Abraham Hillhouse seems to have sensed this shift. Sachem's Wood: A Short Poem. p.” He explained his reasons for doing so in a poem. frontiersman Andrew Jackson ousted patrician John Quincy Adams from the White House and initiated the second phase of America's democratic revolution. who tightly controlled the design and ownership of houses on the avenue. “perfect in itself. The Greek Temple form. relented and permitted the construction of two houses in the Italianate/Villa Style in the late 1830s.” he continued. as the elite’s hold on power grew more tenuous. 1837. In 1829.Italianate and Gothic -. Like avenue's elms. and even to town mansions. the design of residences became more and picturesque and oriented to private pleasures. The poem begins with an evocation of the view from his porch on Prospect Hill over the city that his family had done so much to shape: Now. Hears grave clocks.

6).I blush to own the pain -And half am tempted to refrain. who was popularly known as “The Sachem” (the Indian term for Big Chief). He refers to the “grave clocks. In the new urban democracy. See! How its guardian Giants tower. “So farewell Highwood!” – he wrote. the aristocratic airs that he and people like him had so casually assumed would not do. Of proven worth. . he proclaimed Observe.and gentleman. is oe'r! . and questions. there. as the gong Bids urchins not disport too long A blended murmur minds the ear That an embosom'd City's near. A graceful vine. Good stock. Ancestral woods! Must we forego An epithet we love and know. Hillhouse views the city's towers and steeples. and proclaim That steady folk have changed their name (14). framed by the “guardian Giants” -. I hope as Federal as mine own -I feel -. and a tone.Whig -. . “‘HighwoodPark'/O'ersteps the democratic mark” (14). people we admire. (14).) Proud for his country.34 Or starts. The Sachem's day is o'er. In this stanza. a noble shoot.planed by his father. After a long recital of the history of the community and his father's services to it.(Hillhouse 1838. For some new title. Bull. urbane and true. like Mr. Each from a venerated root. Should be a plain republican -Proud he may be (some honest pride Would do no harm on t'other side.-And shadows pass of things gone by. Changing their aspects with the hour!-. Emulating European styles and fashions would not do for American leaders: A Yankee -. but not full Of puffy names. Keeping the line their fathers' drew.the great elm trees -. and classic bell” that regulated the lives of New Haven's citizens. its mansions and villas. -But memory's glass as at mine eye. good nurture.

James Abraham Hillhouse set out to set an example of cultured enterprise for his fellow citizens. Far off. Throughout the poem. We think of him beyond the sky. rather than reason. it shifted the source of that commitment to a more sturdy foundation. Another theme evident in Hillhouse's poem -. Where as silent moons roll by. Hillhouse expected to underwrite these costs with profits from his development schemes. where the objects of his care. Here. These noble trunks should never feel. in decades before the community had produced a written account of its own history. Moreover. Though he abstained from politics (in which his father excelled). “The Sachem. The life of a gentleman author. Vowing the woodman's murderous steel. “Central to the environmental awakening of the Jacksonian period. and lavish entertainments.” writes environmental historian Thomas Campanella. This was not a withdrawal from leadership.) In earnest rusts. In naming the estate in honor of his his embrace of nature. nature.” not pedigree. was costly.35 His hatchet (buried oft before. Waved grateful o'er his silver hair. Without an inherited fortune. Resting among the Wise and Good. a choicer hunting ground. This embrace of the Romantic sensibility in no way constituted an abandonment of a commitment to civic order. with European travels. he asserted a distinctive tie to the community's past -and. Here. Rather. it was believed that a person could derive similar . whether in the recurrent trope of trees framing the man-made landscape or references to his father. was a belief that the contemplation of wild nature produced positive moral and spiritual effects upon the observer. is cited as a source of authority.and his willingness to embrace departures from Classical architectural models -.” as embodying the virtues of New Haven's aboriginal inhabitants. Here. the younger Hillhouse was an energetic entrepreneur. while he has found. were in life's aspiring stage. extensive book buying. Recognizing that leadership in the age of Jackson depended on “proven worth. 15-16). took charge of the community's collective past and the elite's place in it. He planned a wigwam for his age. Our hearts decide for SACHEM'S WOOD (pp.

. improvement could transform village space just as it transformed home grounds. As an advocate of village improvement put it decades later. 2003. p. and our dwelling-places made fitting for refined and intellectual beings” (Campanella. influentials like James Abraham Hillhouse instead committed themselves to creating and maintaining settings that influenced the moral agendas and group identities that underlay politics. its appropriate handmaid. and an appreciation for beauty. the pair produced a series of volumes -. they could claim leadership in realms other than the political: in refinement. Davis's 1837 Rural Architecture was only the first of a series of influential pattern books in which he had a hand.36 value by reproducing the essence of such scenes closer to home. and the knowledge of the principles on which nature works. “Taste. the perception of the beautiful. both public and private spaces could have powerful effects on engendering a sense of community by creating settings in which citizens could contemplate and come to understand their place in the larger scheme of things. Teaming up with talented landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing.” wrote painter Thomas Cole. Withdrawing from the kind of substantive political engagement that his father relished. by affording to nature “the assistance of Art. sacred and secular. by “improving” his grounds according to certain aesthetic principles. pp.including Cottage Residences (1842) and The Architecture of Country Houses (1850) -. “can be applied. In other words. 75). 2003. architects. and builders throughout the country. 74-75). he could realize bountiful dividends both moral and spiritual. The example set by Hillhouse and Davis was hugely enlarged through their aggressive promotion of their ideas. elevated sentiments. “in the most outward aspect of the village itself. The private contemplation of the sublime in nature had powerful public consequences. "in the interior life of the people" (Campanella. he continues: This application of “taste” could be just as effective in the civic realm as it was in the domestic.that sold by the thousands and influenced homeowners.” improvement could bring about “a most gratifying development of two kinds of beauty”: one.’ and the other. If civic elites could no longer demand deference. Within this framework.

6). to beautify the civic spaces of town and village. tastemaker Andrew Jackson Downing.” Campanella writes. “Although much of Downing's work focused on the domestic environment. Campanella continues. Village improvement societies were organized.and on the village improvement movement in general -. or were better equipped to give it direction. “The muse of improvement spread far and wide with the help of . . Davis teamed up with talented landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing. they changed the face of New England. and he did so at precisely a moment when members of the growing middle class in American began seeking guidance on the tasteful appointment of their grounds (Campanella. In doing so. beginning in western Massachusetts.” Few men in the first half of the nineteenth century had a better grasp of the emergent interest in spatial beauty. and Dubuque. Massachusetts (Campanella. “In the 1830s. he was also interested in the design of civic space. In writing of Yankee City's most elite neighborhood in the 1930s. Connecticut. Like the whitewashed steeple or the village green. the elm trees which Hillhouse had so energetically promoted as a civic totem. . had become an almost universal element of the American urban landscape. 1). p. By the 1920s. and suburbs of the nation. 2003. p. A survey in 1937 revealed that more than 25 million American elms embowered the cities. p. W. a “new craving for spatial beauty” swept across the United States. . . The elm became a powerful symbol of civic community. 2003. and forged one of the most powerful images of place in America -. 2003.” "Downing's impact on his age -. Lloyd Warner would muse .” thanks to the work of Downing and Davis. 89).elm trees. but first and foremost they planted trees -. Iowa had more trees than elm-rich Springfield. Downing was the first advocate of environmental design to reach a wide audience. . These groups engaged in a wide range of activities to enhance the attractiveness of their public lands. identified in particular with the commitment of private citizens to give and serve.37 After completing his work with Hillhouse.the elm-tufted Yankee town. towns. instructing America's emerging bourgeoisie to create tasteful and educative home grounds. Dallas has six times as many elms as Boston. the American elm became the symbol of New England throughout the United States (Campanella.was profound. Sacramento has as many elms as did New Haven.

and associational communities. it cannot be denied that in a fair-sized city. Hill Street is the most important public symbol of the upper classes of Yankee City.38 the beauty of the tree-lined street and the common sentiment of its residents for the venerable elms. (44-45) Like the Green and the Yale campus. instead defining themselves through social networks and sets of symbols that permitted members to recognize one another. symbols of civic community not only had to be continually reinvented. taken on a public function in helping to show the role of civic elites in democratic society. The modern city. tended to become decoupled from specific places. 44) “Although rows of fine trees are the hallmark of old New England towns and villages. the past lives too. as the younger Hillhouse hoped it would. the man raising his arm seems to be inviting his companion to admire the panorama of great trees and fine homes as a matter of civic pride. professional. Rather. Though serving the elites which resided in them as symbolic representations of their exalted status. the fine old trees providing an outward symbol of that superior region's self-regard. and diversity. they constitute a public expression of the presence of upper-class manners and gentle refinement. . but also had to coexist with the proliferation of sub-communities. Here on Hill Street. their age and the agreeable and historic style of most of the houses give eloquent testimony that good form. and this whole world with the values and beliefs of an upper class style of life of past generations. like neighborhoods. . like occupational. Some of these.” unify the homes of Hill Street in the minds of its people. neighborhoods like the Hillhouse Quarter were models for similar neighborhoods throughout the country. The trees themselves are part of a planting that physically and symbolically interrelates the contemporary families and their homes with the larger cultured world of their dwelling area. good breeding. Others. this private neighborhood had. In the living presence of the elms. (Warner 1959. The couple standing in the foreground of the 1850 illustration of Hillhouse Avenue do not appear to be residents. they served public purposes as well. civic life. As a publicly accessible space. and a proper ritualistic consumption of wealth have been and are being maintained by the families that have lived there for generations. . . and the institutionalization of community As American cities grew in geographical extent.” Warner continued. in the residential section. were defined by location -each of which tended to take on their own physical character and ethnic or class composition. population.

almost without exception. immigration (both from abroad and from our own countryside). Ultimately. and the unswerving loyalty of ethnic and working class voters. “Blue ribbon commissions” and civic improvement organizations gave them the visibility and the resources they needed to advance their agendas. the civic reformers discovered that they could not best political machines at their own game: the bosses’ control of patronage. The initial responses to the decline of civic community in the cities were political movements to restore the integrity of the government. Higher education. Citizens willing to challenge political machines. Like the creators of the new civic order of the early nineteenth century. vast financial resources. supplied the knowledge and training needed by the reformers. however. to demand accountability from big business. where older forms of community and the symbolic spaces and structures that embodied them. Rising crime and public disorder. In the larger cities. and physical appearance of cities. made them unbeatable. basing its programs in arguments about the application of science and professional expertise to the administration. infrastructure. and deepening poverty were all symptoms of the decline of any shared sense of mutual identity or obligation.39 Despite dramatic economic and political changes in the decades through the course of the nineteenth century. unrestrained capitalist enterprise. . the municipal reformers of the Progressive Era used private rather than public instrumentalities to achieve their ends. educated businessmen and professionals who identified themselves with older traditions of civic leadership. and to assume responsibility for the problem of poverty were. remained meaningful. which was overwhelmingly private before the Second World War. municipal reform had shifted its strategy: it became non-partisan. most citizens continued to live in villages and small towns. By the beginning of the twentieth century. and the geographic expansion of municipalities generated powerful forces inimical to civic community. official and corporate corruption.

mind. 1989. he became involved in planning New York's Central Park. Olmsted was profoundly influenced by Andrew Jackson Downing's ideas about the moral and civic influence of physical settings. The City Beautiful Movement came directly out of the New England-dominated culture of antebellum reform. 1989.” Their effort involved a cultural agenda. but also political reformers and public officials committed to municipal improvement. 1). “The London parks. During the War. the private organization that assumed responsibility for deploying professional expertise to deal with problems of health and relief in the Union army. Parks -. public and semi-public buildings. like Charles Sprague Sargent of Harvard's Arnold Arboretum. and purse of the citizen. Wilson. Olmsted's work and ideas had attracted the attention not only of academics. including good paving. Realized Olmsted's social idea. Its founder.and in a larger sense -. Through a variety of national associations -. Promenades in parks also encouraged the members of “the largest classes f people” to make "their best presentation of themselves" (Wilson. had spent the years before the Civil War writing anti-slavery propaganda. These were affirmed by Olmsted's observations of the impact of parks in cities like London. or extensions and embellishment of them. He eventually founded a firm that pioneered modern landscape architecture. the democratic intermingling of all classes. and carefully selected and maintained trees. order.the National Municipal League. 16).the overall design of cities was a powerful mechanism for recreating community and responsible citizenship. Physical change and institutional reformation would persuade urban dwellers to become more imbued with civic patriotism and better disposed toward community needs. The ideal found physical realization in urban design.40 One of the most influential efforts to reform the life of urban communities advanced under the banner of the City Beautiful Movement. The display of riding horses and luxurious carriages moving among throngs of ordinary citizens was a visual affirmation of an interdependent organic society. civic centers. The goal beyond the tangibles was to influence the heart. So were ordinary street improvements. attractive furniture such as lampposts. an effort by middle and upper-middle class Americans to “refashion their cities into beautiful. In the 1890s. were the tokens of the improved environment. functional entities. a middle class environmentalism. system. p.” writes historian William H. reform journalist and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903). he worked with the United States Sanitary Commission. and harmony. the . p. and aesthetics expressed as beauty. park and boulevard systems. Beautiful surrounding would enhance worker productivity and urban economics (Wilson. After the war.

Two factors made this new iteration of programs for the reshaping of community particularly powerful: one was the vigor of the national periodical press. The civic center's beauty would reflect the souls of the city's inhabitants. open spaces. landscaping. The hallmark of the City Beautiful Movement was the civic center. order. 1989.41 Outdoor Art Association. and technology to promote a unique kind of civic nationalism -.” writes movement historian William H. or intersection of radial streets allowed the visual delights of perspectives. square. the heart of downtown. This orderly and focused array. the grouping of public and private buildings -. . “The civic center. Grouping public buildings around a park. and propriety therein. the city hall.they debated. and promoted their ideas. which aggressively promoted reform ideas. the public library. . 1989. the fair showed the possibilities of the “‘fuller. and dissemination of those ideas drew on the older village improvement societies of the ante bellum years. Just as Olmsted's ideas had emerged from earlier thinking about the design of urban communities. . the world's fair which drew millions to a setting which used the best in contemporary architecture. . institutionalization. and the municipal arts associations -. the other was the propagation of these ideas through national federated membership associations. the municipal auditorium. usually in the imposing Beaux Arts Style -. In its beauty. . framed. an architectonic triumph far more breathtaking than a single building. The citizen's presence in the center. and efficiency. was intended to be a beautiful ensemble. 71). . and the contrasts between buildings and their umbrageous settings. calm. Wilson.the court house. inducing order. p. more leisurely urban life of the twentieth century” that could be realized through comprehensive planning and community-wide cooperation (Wilson. (White. together with other citizens.’ cooperative.along with an awareness of the power of environment to shape collective identity. which depended on local chapters to carry out their work. so the elaboration. Ideas about city planning also received wide exposure through such extravaganzas as the 1893 Columbian Exposition. the major financial institutions. 92). would strengthen pride in the city and awaken a sense of community with fellow urban dwellers.

More significantly. According private actors this kind of power is not without its hazards. Perhaps the central theme in their endeavors has been the capacity to distinguish the public interest from the interests of government and business. and of business. The limitations of democratic government. Hillhouse and their allies of the early national period. Mike Davis describes how the middle class's . Its architectural motifs would be echoed in school buildings. The former. The creation of the civic spaces which expressed symbolically the interrelationships of public and private interests were. ultimately. In an essay on Los Angeles. but private ones. and other municipal outposts throughout the cities that possessed them. privatization of civic life can have profoundly undemocratic consequences. fire houses. no more than the sum of individual interests. Civic Space and Civil Privatism Like Dwight. the products of voluntary bodies – nonprofit organizations and privately-convened “blue ribbon” commissions. in contrast. seeks to create civic communities in which the whole is more than the sum of its constituent parts. which is ultimately constrained by its competitiveness in the pursuit of profits. values embedded in the physical arrangements of communities were far more powerful and enduring than legal or regulatory prescriptions or governmental arrangements. which is ultimately constrained by the preferences of electoral majorities and their willingness to be taxed. the urban reformers of the Progressive era civic appreciated the capacity of setting. appear to have been remedied by the willingness of leaders acting in private capacities to serve the public interest. landscape. park structures.42 The civic center would serve as a powerful symbol of a community and its shared values and purposes. The power and historical persistence of this assumption of public leadership by private groups – civil privatism -. for both the chief agencies for shaping these didactic environments were not governmental bodies. almost without exception. police stations. though both government and business were essential allies. The latter are. As contemporary critics of urban life have a central theme in the development of American institutions. and architecture to shape public values and behavior. For both.

.. conceived public landscapes and parks as social safety valves. heroic feats. 'No one who has closely observed the conduct of the people who visit [Central] Park. and cultural complexes. office centers. and conquests (Boyer 1992. on one level. while insulated from the city as it actually exists. 155. mixing classes and ethnicities in common (bourgeois) recreations and pleasures. everything seems steeped in tradition. 156). to re-establish a mythical base on which American moral. public activities are sorted into strictly functional compartments under the gaze of private police forces. This polarization marks the decline of urban liberalism and with it the end of what might be called the Olmstedian vision of public space in America. [They] link the past to the present through visual recreations that gloss over real social change by capitalizing on the yearnings for lost innocence. “Genuinely democratic space is virtually extinct. The American city is being systematically turned inward. and the desolation and increasing dangerousness of streets as resources are diverted to further privatize public space and subsidize new exclusive enclaves. the father of Central Park. and social traditions might stand. insulate the privileged from disturbing realities — and from any sense of their civic responsibilities—they also serve as backdrops for forms of consumption that further distance the middle classes from awareness of their connection to a broader public. she concludes. political. Such enclaves. architectural environments and furnishings to create a mood through which the past is filtered and perceived. 191). the neglect of parks. These stylized historical tableaux. Yet these nostalgic constructions only refer to history obliquely by appropriating styles of clothing. The way it was has supposedly become the way it is. Christine Boyer. according to Davis the destruction of any truly democratic urban space.43 "obsession with security has supplanted hopes for urban reform and social integration” (Davis 1992. “On the surface of these tableaux. .” Davis laments: public amenities shrink with closing of libraries and playgrounds. and temperance” (Davis 1992.' he wrote. The 'public' spaces of the new megastructures and supermalls have supplanted traditional streets and disciplined their spontaneity. are privately shaped public spaces like New York’s South Street Seaport which. adventures. Just as troubling. are self-conscious attempts to regain a centered world.. falsify the city’s past and engender illusions about its present.)" The consequence of this crusade to secure the city from crime and violence. self-control. is.” she writes.. Frederick Law Olmsted. explorations. 'can doubt that it exercises a distinctly harmonizing influence upon the most unfortunate and most lawless classes of the city—an influence favorable to courtesy. Inside malls.. according to M.

was predicated on notions of mutuality and inclusion: Inequalities of ability and least the slice of it offered here -. The increasing diversity of American society in this global age may preclude the existence of that kind of consensus and deference to any elite and its ideals. Rather. they understood that their effectiveness as educational instruments depended on their ability to serve as many people as intriguing. hospitals. can democratic society continue to take the risk of ceding to private groups the power to define civic values and civic space? Civic space and the institutions it frames have historically rested on the public's willingness to concede to elites the power to shape consensus defining community identities and values. churches.when government cannot -. Because taxpayers were reluctant to underwrite even such obviously public responsibilities as education and caring for the poor and dependent.may be instructive. Unlike today's enclaves. once these agencies were established. rather than diminishing mutual obligations. the creators of cemeteries and other civic institutions of the nineteenth century did not exclude the public. Even in places where private initiative was discouraged. which established schools. the possibility that private citizens can succeed in creatively engaging the dilemmas of community and diversity -. The capacity to maintain this consensus depended. private groups lobbied legislatures and municipal authorities to create public agencies and. .44 The civil privatism that emerged in places like New Haven at the end of the eighteenth century.the ability of elites to enforce belief in the legitimacy of their claims to be acting in the public interest. cemeteries. libraries. enacting and extending these obligations fell primarily to privately funded voluntary associations. in turn.failing that . and other public institutions. were viewed as the basis for extending them. that was elaborated in the nineteenth. The notion of civic community may be doomed by the increasingly individualistic nature of American life. often supported them generously out of their own pockets. on underlying ethnic and religious homogeneity and -. and reached its fullest expression in the great designed public spaces of the first half of the twentieth century. But here history -. Isn't the modeling civic order in the face of power centripetal forces precisely the challenge faced by the conservative reformers of the early national period? While their solution is hardly the answer to our own problems. Given the hazards involved.

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