Yale Bulletin and Calendar

November 22-December 6, 1999Volume 28, Number 14

Yale sophomore Penny Herscovitch glues the Town Green Special District logo to a planter. It's just one of the assignments she's tackled while working for the organization, which is dedicated to promoting the riches to be found in the Elm City.

Student is now big Elm City fan, thanks to internship

Though she's only a sophomore, Penny Herscovitch has become somewhat of an expert on downtown New Haven.

She knows the names and locations of all the downtown stores and restaurants ­ right down to their footage and rent payments -- and is engaged in research aimed at determining how many people visit various New Haven attractions. The more familiar she becomes with the Elm City's downtown, the greater her fondness for the area, she says.

Herscovitch, who hails from Washington, D.C., works as an intern for the Town Green Special Services District, an organization dedicated to enhancing and promoting New Haven's downtown. The district encompasses the original nine squares of the city, a 27-block area spanning from Audubon Street to Frontage Road and from State Street to York Street, with the New Haven Green at its center. The Town Green Special Services District was formed with the support of property owners and both public and private institutions, including Yale.

Herscovitch has been involved in a data-gathering project as part of the Town Green Special Services District's initiative to retain and recruit retail shops in the area. Last spring, the Yale student measured and photographed all of the storefronts in the district and entered into a database their footage, current rent and other pertinent information. She is currently helping to gather data on demographics and transit usage, as well as on the number of visitors to New Haven attractions. Yale student canvassers, working with a soon-to-be-hired retail coordinator, will use the data to entice out-of-town retailers to fill vacancies in the downtown area.

In addition, Herscovitch recently cemented new custom-made tiles decorated with the Town Green District logo onto 30 new planters that have been placed throughout the downtown area. She also has helped contact service organizations, such as the Lions, Masons and Rotary clubs, to arrange presentations in which Town Green District staff members can talk about the attractions of the Elm City's downtown.

Herscovitch began working as an intern for the Town Green District during the second semester of her freshman year, after spending her first semester working in Yale's recycling office. She chose the internship, she says, because of her interest in New Haven affairs and urban planning, as well as for the opportunity to work outside and to talk to local residents and city visitors about all of the efforts to "spruce up" the downtown.

"Working for the Town Green District has brought me outside of Yale to see how the city works on a daily basis," says the Yale undergraduate. "I really like being out on the streets and talking to people, learning about all the downtown restaurants and stores, and being in contact with people who work every day to improve our city."

Her colleagues in the Town Green District are impressed with the undergraduate's commitment to helping enhance the city in which she lives.

"Penny is a joy to work with," says Jane Snaider, president of the Town Green District. "She is just a bundle of enthusiasm -- a willing worker who catches on so quickly to the significance of our projects. We are delighted to have her with us."

In addition to her work downtown, Herscovitch is also involved in starting a stained glass studio in Saybrook College, where she and others can teach fellow students how to make artistic creations from stained glass. She and the studio's other organizers also hope to invite master artists to the studio to provide instruction in the craft to Yale students.

While she has not yet decided on a major, Herscovitch is considering three possibilities: architecture, anthropology or art. In the meantime, she is appreciating Yale's home city through the eyes of someone in all three fields of study as she examines its diverse architecture, explores its history and culture, and takes note of its beauty while sharing in the task of forming its future.


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