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In New Haven, Connecticut, from 1954 to 1969, some 25,000 people were relocated from their homes. Neighborhoods were transformed. One was totally eliminated. New Haven, residents were told, would be the “model city.” What was life like for regular citizens in the midst of such massive changes? How did neighborhoods and families react? How would yours?

Life in the Model City: Stories of Urban Renewal in New Haven is an oral history exhibit about redevelopment during the administration of Mayor Richard C. Lee. Oral history reveals the individual stories that, taken together, define history. Here, then, is an important and controversial piece of the history of this city, told by those that lived it.

The New Haven Oral History Project interviewers asked people, “What was it like to live in the model city?” Listen to their answers.

Model of Florence Virtue Housing Project
Florence Virtue housing development in Dixwell. Model of buildings above; finished construction below. Undated. Courtesy NHCHS.
Photo of constructed Florence Virtue Housing Project