Tuesday, December 13, 2011

28 New Haven Days: Part 4

If you've been following my posts about New Haven, you know that I've been lamenting about the crime here. Shermania commented on my last post about how he's in New Orleans right now and that their crime is much higher, and the RL-DGs have told me as well that since they moved to New Orleans, they have been warned about the crime and it has prevented them from exploring their neighborhood like they normally would. In a bizarre coincidence, The New York Times happened to publish an article last week about crime in New Orleans. This year they have had 175 murders, which is a ratio of 51 per 100,000 citizens. Compared to NYC, where it's 7 per 100,000, that is a shocking difference. The current population of New Haven is about 130,000, however, which means this city has a ratio of about 28 murders for the same number. Clearly it's not as bad as New Orleans, but it's certainly much higher than NYC. In thinking more about this, I've come to the conclusion that 2 issues here are at stake: (1) people (myself included) envision this area as a "New England college town" when in fact it is a city, even if it is small; and (2) NYC has become so safe it has given us a false sense of security about how other cities really are.  On Sunday, the PR-AMs came from NYC to visit, and even they were a bit surprised that we were asked for money by people out in the street about six times. Our favorite incident happened during dinner when a guy asked us for $3 and when we said no he went back to the bar where he was drinking a beer. Not surprisingly, he ducked out without paying.

After all is said and done, however, I cannot emphasize enough how fantastic my time here has been. The staff of the YCBA has been simply incredible. This really has been an amazing opportunity and it has helped me tremendously in my dissertation research. The picture above is a shot of the Reference Library where I spent most of my time in one of those study carrels on the mezzanine level, upper right. I'm going to regret leaving in a couple of days! And in spite of the issues with crime, I have ventured out and eaten a number of delicious meals here: vegetarian restaurant Claire's just across the street from the Taft (great soup), Big Bear Saloon (awesome burgers), Zinc Artisan (tasty personal pizzas), Istanbul Cafe (yummy Turkish), Zaroka (inexpensive Indian buffet), Woodland Cafe (tea & bagel sandwiches), Caseus Cheese food truck (delectable grilled cheese), and of course the old standby Atticus Cafe & Bookshop on the ground floor of the YCBA. There are many good restaurants here too, but I haven't had time to eat everywhere.

As far as my work goes, last Friday I gave a presentation to the YCBA staff. About 25 people showed up, which was great, and they provided boxed lunches for everyone. Although I gave an overview of my dissertation itself using PowerPoint, I focused more on things I've discovered since I've been here. What started out to be an almost 25-minute presentation turned into nearly 75 minutes of round-table discussion with excellent feedback, which I needed and greatly appreciated. One of the challenges of working on an artist from the past (in particular one who hasn't had a book published on him since an edition of his memoirs came out in 1911) is that there is a tremendous amount of information to cover, and so I must be very selective in what I work on, or postpone for a future project. For instance, in the process of working on John Gibson, I've found myself now also interested in his brother Benjamin (1811-1851), who also was a sculptor. This portrait bust of John is by Benjamin, made about the year 1838 (image: YCBA). Benjamin was 20 years John's junior and was never the success his brother was, but he did work in John's Roman studio, taught himself Latin and Greek, and published a few articles on archaeological discoveries in Rome. He was frequently ill, however, and sadly he died near the baths of Lucca when he tripped and suffered a concussion. He is buried in Lucca, but John also set up a memorial in his honor in Rome at the Protestant Cemetery where he himself was buried in 1866. My interest in him is probably not too much a coincidence; he was about my age when he died.


pranogajec said...

Your posts on New Haven have reminded me of this book, which came out in 2003 but addresses the issues you bring up: http://www.amazon.com/City-Urbanism-Professor-Douglas-Rae/dp/0300095775/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323896603&sr=1-2

bklynbiblio said...

Thanks. Looks like it could be an intriguing explanation for how things devolved in this way.