Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

My Maps, My Neighborhood

by
Sara E. Thomas


Contents of Curriculum Unit 08.03.07:

To Guide Entry


Introduction

My school is currently beginning a partnership with the New Haven Museum and Historical Society to rewrite a book about the different neighborhoods in New Haven. The original book was published in 1982 and was titled Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods: A Guide to the City of New Haven. The structure of our book will be similar to the original. In the book there will be a chapter about each of the twelve neighborhoods, with each chapter broken up into sections. First, there is a section that provides a brief history of the neighborhood, which will be created by the history classes at my school. Then there is a section that highlights two or three key figures in the neighborhood, including interviews with those key figures; the history classes will also be responsible for producing these. Lastly, there is a section including sites of interest within the neighborhood. The other history classes at High School in the Community (HSC) will also be writing this section, but my students will be responsible for the photographs of these sites. In order to produce this book, my students will be responsible for capturing, on film, the buildings of about half of the neighborhoods in New Haven.

We have received a grant in partnership with the New Haven Museum and Historical Society and Common Ground High School in order to produce this book. My school will be focusing on the Upper State Street, Fair Haven, Morris Cove and Wooster Square neighborhoods for the book. I would also like to give students the opportunity to include Newhallville in their study, since many of our students live there and it is fairly close to Upper State Street. We can easily walk to these neighborhoods from school, and many of our students will know them well from having spent time in them.

I would like my students to learn more about the histories of their neighborhoods, to look at photographs of their neighborhoods at different time periods, to read oral histories of these places and to begin to understand the rich history of where they come from through a variety of sources. As an end result students will take photographs capturing the neighborhoods as they currently look. Through a comparison of “then and now” photographs I believe students will gain a greater appreciation of New Haven and their own neighborhoods. Besides being published in the book, students will also need to create a Google My Map of the neighborhood they’ve studied, while adding the images and information they’ve learned to the map.

In order to become familiar with the neighborhoods and to successfully photograph important buildings in each neighborhood, students will go through a three part process. First, to get a feel for the growth of the neighborhoods, students will compare a variety of maps of New Haven over time, and will then create a composite map. Next, they will need to study the history and techniques of architectural photography by focusing on photographs of their particular neighborhood. Finally, they will learn to become photographers using both digital and hopefully manual cameras. The photographs that students take will be published in the updated book about New Haven’s neighborhoods.

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Rationale

I teach visual art at a small magnet high school in New Haven. Two-thirds of our student population is from different neighborhoods all over New Haven, and one-third of our student population is from the surrounding suburbs. Due to this demographic students are from a variety of neighborhoods and often take much pride in the area in which they live. I appreciate this pride in their own neighborhood, but it is often represented in our building as graffiti, or as one neighborhood pitted against another. I would like to have students look at their neighborhoods in a more positive and open-minded manner. I want them to learn the history of their neighborhood but also recognize the shifting notions of neighborhoods, the changing populations, and the numerous similarities between them. When students claim they are “reppin” their neighborhood, I would like them to have a better understanding of the history behind their neighborhood. I think students will be invested in learning more about where they live because they already have a direct connection with it.

I will be teaching this lesson in my Advanced Art class, which is a select group of students who have entered the class with teacher permission. These students have a personal, vested interest in art. This class is also a prerequisite for Advanced Placement Art. Advanced Placement Art focuses on the elements and principles of design, and I would like to use architectural photography to introduce those concepts to my students while giving them the opportunity to be published. Students will learn to use a digital camera, hopefully a manual camera and Google Earth/My Maps as a tool to help create digital artwork.

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Mapping

Since my students will be looking at five different neighborhoods I would like them to break into five groups, each of which will choose a specific neighborhood to research. I would like them to start by writing down their current ideas of the neighborhood -- its boundaries, demographic profile, types of housing, range of businesses, etc. Then I would like them to predict what they think the neighborhood might have been like one hundred years ago.

Students will superimpose old maps onto current maps of the neighborhoods to see how existing roads and structures have changed. We will look at a series of five different maps of New Haven -- starting with all of New Haven and eventually breaking down to each neighborhood specifically. Students will go to the Yale Map Collection to look at original sources. As students are looking at the maps I will be asking them to compare: the orientation of the map, its scale, the contents of its legends, symbols used on the map, and other visual evidence. I will then encourage them to speculate why each map was made.

First we will look a plan of the Town of New Haven in 1748, done by Wadsworth; specifically we will look at the hand-colored version printed by Thomas Kensett in 1806. This map can be found online at: http://www.towngreens.com/IMAGES/Exhibits/2/2_3.jpg. This map focuses mainly on the nine squares of the New Haven Green, and the waterfront. The map is not oriented with true north facing up as we are used to reading a map, but rather so that the nine squares are perfectly parallel to the edges of the paper, making true north at a diagonal. I think students will be shocked to learn that you could once see the harbor from the downtown green and that none of the three churches on the Green had been built yet. This map is very different from the downtown New Haven with which they are familiar, and I am confident that it will start them asking questions about what New Haven used to be like.

The map also includes burial grounds as well as a meetinghouse larger than any other building. There are different symbols used for the houses, and next to each house is the name of the owner, along with the owner’s occupation. I hope this will also pique the students’ interest in the inhabitants of the town. Interestingly, many farmers have houses along the green, but probably had fields farther away. The dock also looks fairly small, and there are small rivers running along the green that have long since been filled in. I am hoping that students notice these geographical differences and begin asking questions about the physical transformation of New Haven.

Next we will look at a map of New Haven from 1817 engraved by Amos Doolittle. This map of New Haven is oriented so that true north is facing toward the top of the map, which means the nine squares are now tilted and appear to be in more of a diamond shape. It is obvious that the town has grown significantly since the last map was created. There are many more houses and the population has spread beyond the nine squares, which have been bisected in some places by new roads. The writing on this map is not as personal as the writing on the earlier examples, but provides the specific geographical features of New Haven. There is also a legend and a scale. The houses are more simplified and there are a lot more of them, and the coastline looks much more accurate. It is obvious that more care has gone into creating an accurate map.

You can also see that roads have started to branch out beyond the green, and many of them are labeled as turnpikes, which will lead you to other towns and cities in Connecticut. Within the city Wooster Square and parts of Fair Haven are noted, and the pier has grown substantially. There is now a public well labeled on the map, all three churches are on the green and there is even an arrow pointing to an “alms” house located off of the map. I would like to lead students through a discussion comparing this map to the previous one and hope that by having the two in front of them they will have a clearer sense of New Haven’s topographical history.

Next we will look at 1868 copy of the Beers Atlas of New Haven. These maps are focused more particularly on each neighborhood. There are also more industrial buildings starting to pop up throughout New Haven.

Then we will look at a series of Sanborn fire insurance maps online, and students will begin comparing the maps for changes in the five specific neighborhoods over time. As New Haven grew, new maps were produced in the years 1886, 1901, 1923-24, 1923-1951, 1973. The maps record what material each building was made out of, and the locations of all of the fire hydrants. These maps are much more detailed for each neighborhood, and you can visually see the growth and changes in each neighborhood from one map to the next. I would like students to compare these maps specifically for the neighborhood they have chosen to research. I am hoping that they will recognize some buildings which are still present today, some places where there used to be buildings and now roads have taken over.

Last, we will look at current Google Maps, both road maps and satellite images. Students will trace the original boundaries of the neighborhood and create a map tracing the outlines of the neighborhood throughout time by comparing the maps we have looked at. They will also look for any buildings which have survived from map to map to see which ones are the oldest buildings in the neighborhood. Students will construct a map visually exploring how the boundaries of their neighborhood changed or grew over the years. A different colored line will denote the boundary of each year. Students will then transfer this information onto their Google My Map.

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Lesson Plan One

The creation of their neighborhood map will be students first interaction with the Google Map program. The maps have a lot of capabilities. Students will go to http://maps.google.com/maps. On the left hand side of the screen is a toolbar. Students will select the “My Maps” tab, and will then select “Create New Map”. They will type New Haven into the search bar, and this will pull up a street map of New Haven. Students will need to zoom in on their particular neighborhood. While many students are familiar with using Internet, directional maps and Google Earth, I doubt if any have created an interactive map before. I anticipate that they will be very excited about it.

The toolbar for editing your own map is located along the top left of the map. The scroll bar with the plus and minus at either end will allow students to zoom in on areas of the map. There are four buttons located to the right of this slide bar that will allow students to edit the map. The little hand allows them to grab the map and move the screen whichever direction they would like.

For this lesson we will focus on the line tool and the shape tool. The line tool looks like a line and will allow students draw lines throughout the map. To start a line students will click anywhere on the map. To continue the line students will click where they would like the line to continue on to. After comparing all of the maps at the Yale Maps collection students will need to choose five different years to represent their neighborhood’s boundaries. We will discuss what things might be important in choosing those five boundaries -- possibly years where a lot of growth occurred, or years where surprising constructions were made. Students will represent each boundary for each separate year with a different colored line. Once students have drawn the line they will have the ability to change the line color, opacity and thickness. They can give a title to the line and include a description about it. This function will allow students to explain what year that particular line is representing, along with any striking changes from the previous year’s boundary.

Finally students will use the shape tool, which works similarly to the line tool in order to create the boundary of their neighborhood as it is today. The shape tool works similarly to the line tool, but once you connect the line to where you started it will fill in the shape. It can also be named, and students can add text, etc. This will be the first step in students creating an online profile of their neighborhood.

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A Brief History of Each Neighborhood

Students will be given a copy of the original published chapter about their neighborhood from Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods. They will read it and highlight both information they find interesting and clues to important places they might wish to photograph or add to their maps. Once students have completed this list we will go to the New Haven Museum and Historical Society to look at images of their neighborhood and see how it has changed over time. Students will need to present their neighborhood to the class through a PowerPoint presentation focused on the Google Map that they are constructing.

Upper State Street

This neighborhood runs from State and Trumbull to where State intersects with Interstate 91 past Willow Street. Upper State Street has always housed many thriving businesses. Branching off of it are many quiet residential streets in the neighborhood of East Rock, and along it are many mom and pop businesses and restaurants. (Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods Upper State Street)

Sites: State Street Train Station, Blake Field, Archie Moore’s, Nicas and Modern Pizza.

Wooster Square

The land on which Wooster Square is now built was originally used for ploughing contests. It is named after General Wooster, who had a warehouse there. In 1825 the city of New Haven bought and incorporated the land. During the 1840s it became a popular place to live and was home to many ship captains and wholesale grocers. Many built large houses in hopes that the nearby port would bring them wealth (The Long Island Sound was much closer to Wooster Square back then.) In the late 1800s the surrounding area became much more industrial, and consequently a far less desirable place to live. The Italian Americans began to move in and run small stores out of their houses. Because of this shift plans to build interstate 91 in the mid-1950s included running the highway directly through the park. In 1958, however, the Wooster Square Project started and a revival began including the community and many architects. It is now a neighborhood famous for its pizza and Italian pastries. (http://www.nhpt.org/Historic_District_Pages/woostersquare.html and Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods, Wooster Square)

Sites: Libby’s, Pepe’s, Sally’s, Wooster Square Park, Conte School, Farmer’s Market, St. Andrew’s, Santa Maria Maddalena Society, St. Michael’s Church, etc.

Newhallville

This neighborhood is bordered by Hamden, and the main road which passes through it is Dixwell Avenue. It was named after George Newhall who ran his carriage manufacturing plant there. It has always been home to the working class. The Winchester Repeating Arms plant was here, and provided jobs to the majority of the neighborhood. Once the plant was sold and the jobs declined the area was hit by a recession. Originally the area was very industrial, but it is now almost entirely residential, the one real exception being the Science Park research facility. The Farmington Canal also runs through Newhallville.

Sites: Science Park, Farmington Canal, Newhallville Neighborhood Corporation and

Beaver Pond Park.

(Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods, Newhallville)

Morris Cove

This neighborhood is located on the east side of the New Haven harbor and borders East Haven. It often feels separate from the rest of New Haven since you must travel over one of the many bridges across the Quinnipiac River to get there. It feels a little more like the suburbs than other neighborhoods in New Haven. Most of the zoning in Morris Cove is residential, which helps to preserve the small seaside community atmosphere. Most of the settlers living in Morris Cove were farmers and a few seamen. It was the site of a Revolutionary War battle, which we lost. It has stayed residential, and in the mid 1800s became a fashionable place for summering. As time passed many residents updated their houses and began to live there year round. Between Morris Cove and the Quinnipiac River is the neighborhood of the Annex, a slightly busier neighborhood. It was originally part of East Haven until New Haven annexed it. It was originally populated by the Quinnipiac Indians, and then purchased by the settlers. Many of the Quinnipiac continued to live in the Annex until the tribe died out.

Sites: New Haven Harbor, Lighthouse Park, Tweed Airport, Saint Bernadette’s Church, Fort Hale Park, Sail New Haven, East Shore Park, Pardee Morris House and Forbes Market

(Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods, East Shore)

Fair Haven

Fair Haven is located along the Quinnipiac River and was originally called “Dragon Point” after the sea lions which originally inhabited it. It was historically a maritime community, home to the oystering business. A bridge eventually connected it to the rest of New Haven. In the 1930s the oyster fishing business relocated to Southern waters, and many Puerto Ricans and African-Americans moved in. However, there were few jobs, so the community deteriorated and people began moving away until recently. The area is now being rejuvenated. The population remains largely immigrant, though now it is mostly Hispanic. The inhabitants of Fair Haven are very proud of their neighborhood and are often investing time in improving it. Across the river is Fair Haven Heights, a more posh neighborhood with larger houses. The part of the neighborhood along the river is now considered historic and there is a lot of work being put into restoring the houses in that area.

Sites: Grand Avenue Bridge, Front Street Park, Ferraro’s Market, Fair Haven First Congregational Church, JUNTA, Catholic Churches (St. Rose, St. Francis and St. Donato) and Centro San Jose.

(http://www.juntainc.org/en/community/fairhaven.php and Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods, Fair Haven)

There were HUGE changes in all of these neighborhoods during the administration of Dick Lee, who promised to “renew” the city. Many of the neighborhoods my students will be studying went through tremendous changes in the 1950s. I want students to be able to experience these tremendous changes through maps, oral histories and images of the neighborhoods throughout that time period.

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Reading a Photograph

After students have compared maps, developed their own, and created a PowerPoint presentation of their neighborhood, we will begin looking at photographs of their chosen neighborhoods. In order to interpret the photographs successfully I will teach Feldman’s method as a framework for our discussions. It is a process that entails four steps: describe, analyze, interpret and decide. When students are first presented with this model they are eager to interpret the artwork first and foremost. I encourage them to record these initial feelings towards the artwork they are viewing, however I also model for them a new more in depth way of viewing a piece of artwork. (Simpson 124)

First, I ask students to describe the artwork. In order to try to teach the students not to interpret I encourage them to describe only things that are obvious in the artwork. I stress this by having them only list things they see, if they cannot recognize any objects, then they should begin to describe shapes and values instead of assuming what subject they artist was trying to express. For example, when looking at an image of the Church on the Green a student might say, “The people who attended there were all rich,” as a part of his or her description. I would explain to the student that s/he is assuming what the make up of the congregation is, and should say instead, “The church boxes have numbers to allow for specific seating.” This offers a more accurate description and does not begin to interpret the work, which is a later step in the process. I have only used this process before for paintings, sculptures, etc. and I am curious to see the results it has for architectural photography. I often start the discussion using this question: If you wanted your friend to go to the art museum and find this specific piece of artwork, how would you describe it for him/her? Initially, we complete this process as a class. I am at the front of the class recording all of the students’ suggestions on the white board, or sometimes I will choose a student recorder. If students do not compile a detailed enough description I will read them the description they have recorded so far, and explain to them another piece of artwork that could fit that description. This prompts them to continue describing. If a work is very large and detailed I may also break it down into four quarters, which we will discuss one at a time, so that the students have a more specific area to focus on to be sure they create a complete description. It is important for students to create a detailed description because they pick up on details that they might have missed upon first glance. The first few times we participate in this analysis it is difficult for students to refrain from interpreting the artwork, but as they become familiar with it they become very adept at describing the artwork.

Next, students analyze the artwork using the elements and principles of design. Students discuss composition, use of value, and which particular techniques the artist has used in the artwork. Because students come to me with a very limited vocabulary, they become exponentially better at this process as the class continues, as they begin to learn more about the elements and principles of design. They have a better understanding of identifying and applying these principles. I will go into much greater detail about the elements and principles as they relate to architectural photography later on.

The third step asks students to interpret the artwork. After describing the artwork in detail they have a full arsenal of details to use to formulate an interpretation. I will ask students to hypothesize what the artist was thinking about when s/he created the piece of art, and why they think this -- this is where supporting evidence becomes important. The first few times we use Feldman’s method we do it out loud as a class so that students gain an understanding of how the process works. I will have students look at their black and white copy of the image and prompt them to highlight or circle symbols in the artwork that tell them something about the particular neighborhood. This way they can easily reference the supporting evidence in the artwork. I will ask students to list ten different things they can interpret about the neighborhood and the symbols they have highlighted. Once students have completed their own individual lists of ten traits about the neighborhood, students will be given a chance to share their interpretations. I will record their answers on the board using a two-column grid. One column will have the heading “Interpretation,” the second column will have the heading “Evidence.” It is important for students to understand that as long as they can support their claim using evidence, there are no incorrect interpretations.

The final step in this process is decide how you as the viewer feel about the artwork. Usually decide means students must decide whether or not they feel it is a successful piece of artwork. For these exercises I will be asking them to decide whether or not they think the photograph is an accurate representation of the neighborhood. Again, they will need to use supporting evidence.

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Lesson Plan Two

I would like students to practice this process of analyzing artwork with a variety of different images. To focus on architectural photography I would like students to look at the images of the Oak Street Neighborhood in Images of America on page 32. These two images were taken before the Oak Street Connector was built and leveled the neighborhood. They were used to justify tearing down the buildings. I would like students to view them and go through Feldman’s method -- paying careful attention to their description. I think it will be very important for students to be cognizant of the fact that the photographer is taking the photo with a specific purpose in mind. These photographs clearly show what living in the neighborhood was like at that time -- deplorable living conditions, juxtaposed with images of new, clean housing projects.

The image on the top of page 32 shows a storefront called Midtown Antiques, next to Nelson’s Antiques. The buildings are brick and do not look like they have been well kept. The store looks like it is no longer open, and in the display windows piles of miscellaneous objects can be seen. The objects look as though they were thrown there haphazardly in a garbage pile, as opposed to being lined up in a nice display. The awning is tattered and torn, and there is also a pile of garbage collecting in the doorway.

The image on the bottom of the page shows an old three-story apartment building, with clothes hanging out on the line to dry. The building looks like it is falling apart. Even more striking is the foreground of the photograph, an empty lot next to the apartment building that looks like it has become a dumping ground. There’s wood, cloth and garbage piling up.

Once students have created a class interpretation of these two images we will begin to brainstorm questions that students have about these images, in order to make a more informed interpretation. I hope that they will begin to ask things like -- Who lived here? Why would you want to capture a neighborhood in this light? Why didn’t they fix the existing homes? I am sure students will begin to see parallels to things going on in their neighborhoods currently.

Once students have created a list of questions we will go to the historical society to do some research about each neighborhood, based on the questions they have compiled.

To do this research we will make use of the photograph collection at the New Haven Museum and Historical Society. Students will be given collections of images from different years of the same specific blocks in their neighborhoods. I will work with the librarian at the museum to put together groups of these images beforehand -- to make sure that enough of them exist. I will also make copies of the images for students to use in the classroom. There may be some logistical problems here because this class usually meets at 8AM, so we may have trouble accessing the library’s collection but I would like to arrange for someone from the Museum to come into the classroom.

Each group of students will look at photographs of street corners, shops and houses in their neighborhood throughout time. We will try to focus on the five different time periods that students included on their maps of the boundaries of that particular neighborhood. While students are looking at the maps I would like them to be aware of buildings that have lasted since the inception of the neighborhood, and also to look for buildings that look like they are centers in the neighborhood. I would like students to then add images of the important buildings throughout time to their Google my maps. They can add the buildings as place markers, and can add images to the pop up bubbles that go with those place markers. (I need to talk to the librarian about copyright issues.) Next, students will go out into those neighborhoods and photograph the buildings as they appear currently.

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How Architectural Photography Differs from Other Photography

Jeff Dean states, “The ability of the architectural photographer to select his views and manipulate his medium can be used to enhance or denigrate any building. It can be used to place a building on a figurative pedestal...[or] show the failure of the first sort of building,” (Dean 1). This is a concept I want my students to become very familiar with by comparing existing photographs of buildings, and also by urging them to take a variety of different images of the same building. One main concern when taking photographs of buildings is the fact that you are photographing a three-dimensional structure in a two-dimensional media. This can be very difficult if the photographer is not aware of the elements.

Architectural photography has a few striking differences from other types of photography. Almost everything in an architectural photograph is geometric. Because of this the artist needs to be careful of bizarre foreshortening or perspective distortion. In order to alleviate this it is critical that students learn that the lens must always be parallel to the subject. If a building is tall then the students need to find a different vantage point to capture it, instead of simply angling their camera upwards. Capturing a tall building by tilting the camera up exaggerates the vanishing point and gives the building an appearance of strength and grandeur, which may not be the desired outcome. (Dean 19)

The sun and the weather are both also important factors in photographing buildings. If you are staging a photo shoot inside you can easily control the lighting on your subject. However, outside you are subject to many variables: the position of the sun, the position of the building, and the weather. Ideally you would like a bright sunny day, at the time of day when the sun is beating on the face of the building. This will create contrast and ensure that the building looks like it has volume. (Dean 65)

Planning and patience are also extremely important. You must plan what time of day it is best to shoot your building. I will need to figure out how to help students get to their buildings during this time, since chances are it will not always conveniently be when we meet for class. Buildings are structures that people use and do not exist in a vacuum. Because of this the photographer must be patient and willing to take many photographs in order to capture what s/he is looking for because you cannot control what is going on around the building, or the people interacting with it. (Dean 7)

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Elements of Design in Architectural Photography

I will show students examples of each of the elements of design in specific photographs in Images of America: New Haven Reshaping the City. These examples will give students first hand knowledge of how the elements and principles of design work. They will then be challenged to look through the 24/7 books (a more modern series of photographs) to find more examples of the same elements of design. They will need to be able to defend why they think that a particular photograph successfully uses a specific design element.

The first important element of design is line. Buildings are extremely geometric and create lines from their walls, windows, beams, siding, walkways, roofs, etc. Lines lead your eye through the composition and can make a building feel stable or dynamic. A good example of strong vertical lines is on page 49 of Images in America, showing all of the construction workers lined up on each floor of the infrastructure of the Church Street redevelopment. The strong vertical lines in the concrete and the cables, along with the repetition of vertical bodies make this feel like a very strong, safe structure. On page 69 of Images in America the bird’s eye view of Long Wharf shows all of the highways, on ramp and off ramps. The diagonal and curved lines lead your eye through the composition and make it feel very busy and alive with movement. We equate horizontal lines with stability and calmness. We equate vertical lines with strength and growth. We equate diagonal lines with movement and instability. Our eyes are most drawn to diagonal lines. This information is extremely important when photographing a building because by simply changing your vantage point so that the focus in the composition shifts from horizontal lines to diagonal lines the building will have a very different feeling to it.

The next important element is shape. The viewfinder of the camera is a specific format and as soon as you introduce another shape into the viewfinder a relationship is immediately created. (Dean 82) The building creates a positive shape, or focal point while the sky or the environment around the building creates the negative space. Positive and negative space should always balance each other. If there is too much negative space the building looks very unimportant and dwarfed by the sky. If there is too little negative space you will begin to crop out important parts of the building. The rule of thirds is a common tool used by photographers. It involves breaking the frame down into nine squares by using two vertical and two horizontal lines one-third of the way through the frame. Think about just superimposing a tic-tac-toe board over the frame. It is a good guide to place focal points at one of the places where the lines intersect. It is also good to place your horizon along one of the horizontal lines, so that it does not break the frame perfectly in half -- creating a boring image. There is a good example of using the rule of thirds on page 48 in Images of America, which places the huge new geometric building along the left third of the photograph. The horizon line runs along the bottom third and because of this placement along with the converging lines and the negative space this is a very well composed image.

Related to positive and negative space is value. Value is the lightness or darkness of an image, and contrast is the difference between the two. You can create a focal point by having a very dark composition with only a small light area and the viewer’s eye will immediately be drawn to that particular part of the image. Also, light and dark values are what are going to make the buildings feel like they have volume, instead of appearing flat. This relates back to sunlight and time of day that the image is taken. There is a good example of contrast in Images of America on page 50. The contrast of the new, dark, geometric skyscrapers make the light, pristine, organic church seen through them really pop because the contrast in value is so high.

The last important thing to capture in the photograph is texture. Buildings have a variety of textures that can tell you about the materials used to construct the building and also how well maintained the building is. They provide rich values and lots of interest in photographs. A good example of this is in Images of America on page 103 showing Lou-Marin’s Furniture and Appliances. This image shows the grainy, rough, worn texture of the wood directly next to the smooth, clean glass of the storefront making an interesting juxtaposition of textures.

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Becoming a Photographer

Besides techniques and elements of design, intent is extremely important when photographing a building. As students look at photographs from their specific neighborhoods we will discuss what it is the artist wanted to capture about the building -- why is it important to the neighborhood? If it is important as an architectural structure, how can they capture that on the camera? If it is important as a meeting place for residents of the neighborhood, should there be people in the image as well? What angles best capture buildings? They will need to determine what makes one photograph more interesting than another. They will need to look at how viewpoint, perspective and what is actually included in the frame can drastically change the message that an image is sending. Students will compare a variety of different photographs in order to do this.

After looking at many images taken of New Haven and discussing composition, students should have a good idea of what makes a photograph successful and also the idea that photographers usually take a photograph with an idea in mind. Knowing that, students will begin using digital cameras to take photographs of the neighborhood they are exploring. They will take “candid” shots of the neighborhood, as well as shots of specific sites they have deemed important within the neighborhood.

We will start by learning to use the digital camera. Our school is lucky to have five digital cameras at our disposal, which is very convenient -- one for each group. First students will learn the basics of using the digital camera. I expect most of them to be familiar with using a digital camera already. They will learn how to turn the camera on, how to take a shot, how to erase individual pictures, and also about the different settings for picture quality. Many students when they use a camera simply set the camera on the setting which provides them with the most memory, or the largest number of images the camera can hold. Because students will already be familiar with Photoshop we will try taking a photograph at each setting, look at it in Photoshop, and then look at its print quality. I want students to understand that the higher the dpi (pixels per inch) they use to take a photograph the more memory the photograph will take up, however the image will be of a much higher quality.

After completing this unit students will understand and be able to take photographs with a digital camera, transfer them to the computer, touch them up in Photoshop and print them successfully. Once students have learned to use the digital cameras, they will go on photo shoots. They will need to determine beforehand what they want their photographs to say about the place or person they are shooting as a subject. We will discuss as a class that photographs best convey the message they are trying to send about the person or place. In order to take successful photographs students will need to understand the essence behind the people and will have to then capture those things on film.

I also have a small dark room and a limited number of manual cameras. If time and space allow I would like students to be able to have the experience of developing their own images to gain an appreciation of the precursor to digital cameras.

Students will go out in groups to shoot their neighborhood, sharing the camera. They will become each other’s photo editors. They will learn to print out contact sheets, which allow you to see smaller versions of all of the images you are interested in printing. This will allow them to compare photographs easily to see which ones best capture the subject.

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Lesson Plan Three

Students will then add their own photographs to their My Google Maps. They will choose their most successful five photographs of the buildings and will add them to their Google Map by using the place mark tool. Once they have placed a placemark a bubble will pop up which allows them to edit the placemark. Students have a variety of options here. They can name their placemark, add text and images, and by clicking on the icon inside the bubble, even change what the placemark looks like. Students will use this tool to add the photographs of their buildings along with descriptions of the buildings and why they are important to the neighborhood.

Along with their My Map they will be responsible for producing a set portfolio of images. Each student will be responsible for producing at least five well-composed images of their specific neighborhood. These images will be the ones sent to the historical society to be curated and included in the updated version of the book.

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In the Future

Also, in the end, I might like students a prediction - Where are we going from here? I would like students to predict what they think their neighborhood might look like fifty years from now, and create a final layer to their artwork. They will need to back up their prediction with reasons why they think the neighborhood is headed in this direction.

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Assessment

I assess my students in a variety of different ways and think that using rubrics is extremely important; especially since grading art is so subjective. In order to assess students and hold them accountable for attending class each student is given a daily participation grade. This grade will be extremely important on the days in which the students are doing group work. Students will also receive a group grade for their presentations. Also included in that grade will be a grade for information presented, and for their spoken contributions during the presentation.

Throughout the process students will be asked to complete peer critiques. While I think that it is important for me to track the students progress, I also think it is important for them to see each other’s progress. I find that the students are each other’s best critics. Students will easily be able to look at another student’s photographs and pick out the most successful one. I try to train them to be specific and to also offer suggestions if they are going to comment on a peer’s artwork. Towards the end of each project I also have students fill out a peer critique form. This allows a new set of eyes, besides mine, to look at their artwork and respond.

Their final piece of artwork will be graded using a rubric. The criteria on the rubric will be given to students at the beginning of the assignment. The rubric will include the following criteria: an accurate Google map showing boundary changes for five years, place marks of important places, the addition of well composed photographs by each student of their neighborhood. Students will be given a self-evaluation containing this rubric to fill out before they hand in their artwork. The teacher will then fill out the same rubric to determine the grade.

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The Next Step: Who Lives in Each Neighborhood?

In the original book of New Haven’s Neighborhoods there are profiles of important people within the neighborhood -- owners of important businesses, organizations, churches, etc. Along with an interview of each person, there is a contour line drawing of each person. The first year that I teach I would like to focus on buildings, as I planned above. The following year, I would like students to repeat the process, however instead of going through the process with buildings and architecture, I would like them to learn to take portraits of the people who represent each neighborhood. Students will need to successfully represent each person through an image and will have to use placement, lighting and camera angle in order to tell something about the individual in the image.

Students will go through the same process of creating a Google My Map, and will also go through learning Feldman’s process, but this time for discussing portraits instead.

Each student will then be assigned an oral history of someone who used to live in the neighborhood they’ve chosen. I would like to pre-select these people so that each group has at least four different individuals and each one is from a different time period. This way along with looking at the maps students will be able to place a voice to the changes that were taking place in the neighborhood at the time. Along with buildings students will also research people living in that neighborhood at that time. Each student in the group will be responsible for researching the life of one particular individual from that neighborhood. Hopefully in this way students will have about four different personal views of the same neighborhood.

Students will present their neighborhood and the person whom they have followed throughout a lifetime in that particular neighborhood. Once students have gone through this process -- looked at and analyzed photos, listened to oral histories, looked at and compared maps, they will be challenged to choose a new person who lives in the neighborhood now to highlight. Students will also add these individuals to their Google my maps, using the place marker tool. Students will include information about the person, and quotes from them about the neighborhood. In this way the map will contain history through maps, buildings and first hand accounts of each neighborhood.

Next students will each choose a present day inhabitant of the neighborhood to highlight. Each student will write their own oral history of an inhabitant of their chosen neighborhood. They will take portraits of that particular individual, record their oral history, and also photograph buildings and landmarks, which are currently in the neighborhood and are of important significance to their interviewee. This will be the second part of the book, where portraits are added.

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Resource List

Neighborhood Resources

Horowitz, Andy. “New Haven Oral History Project.” September 2003. http://research.yale.edu/nhohp/content/ (accessed July 22, 2008). An interesting collection of oral histories by New Haven residents. It will help students to give more of a personal voice to the neighborhood histories they are reading.

JUNTA: For Progressive Action, 2008. http://www.juntainc.org/en/about/ (accessed July 22, 2008). JUNTA’s website with a brief history of Fair Haven.

New Haven Colony Historical Society. Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods: A Guide to the City of New Haven. The City of New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1982. The original book about New Haven’s neighborhoods. It gives good background information about each neighborhood and will also be the basis for the format of our work.

New Haven Colony Historical Society. Images of America: New Haven Reshaping the City 1900 -- 1980. Arcadia Publishing. Charleston, SC: 2002. A fantastic collection of images from the Historical Society of New Haven throughout different time periods. A great collection for use in the classroom.

New Haven Museum and Historical Society. 114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT. A museum in New Haven which houses a variety of resources for students to access such as architectural drawing, journals, inventories of houses, scrapbooks, photograph collection, etc. We will use their resources through class visits and field trips.

Remember When. CPTV. (1994) An interesting documentary following the changes in New Haven’s neighborhoods.

Rae, Douglas, City Urbanism and Its End. Yale University Press. Harrisburg, VA: 2003. A good history of New Haven.

The New Haven Preservation Trust, “State Districts.” April 15, 2008. http://www.nhpt.org/state_districts.htm (accessed July 22, 2008). A website maintained by The New Haven Preservation Trust. Good brief histories of each neighborhood.

Mapping Resources

Atlas of New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1911. Maps of New Haven and surrounding areas.

Beer Atlases. New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1868. Maps of New Haven and surrounding areas.

Dolittle, Amos. Map of New Haven. New Haven, CT:1817/24. A map of the New Haven Green, plus a little more of the surrounding area.

Google Maps, “My Map.” July 22, 2008. http://maps.google.com/ (accessed July 22, 2008). This is a great site to get aerial maps of a variety of different places, and involves a user interface where you can create your own “places of interest” on the map.

Kensett, Thomas. A Plan of the Town of New Haven With All the Buildings in 1748. New Haven, CT: 1806. A map of New Haven in 1748.

Sandborn Maps. New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1888. These are a group of maps updated every twenty years or so (more often in times of large population increase) which show the material each building is made of and where the fire hydrants are located. Can also be accessed online at: http://www.library.yale.edu/MapColl/print_sanborn.html.

Architectural Photography Resources

Dean, Jeff. Architectural Photography: Techniques for Architects, Preservationists, Historians, Photographers and Urban Planners. The American Association for State and Local History: 1981. A great resource for thinking about buildings as subject matter, and for composition and design elements. It is very heavily focused on manual cameras and lenses with no mention of digital cameras.

Green, Betsy J. Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood. Santa Monica Press: 2002. An interesting book about becoming an architectural detective. Some good excerpts for students to think about when looking at photographs.

Howe, Barbara; Fleming, et al. Houses and Homes: Exploring Their History. AltaMira Press: 1987. Another book to help document the history of a home.

Lesy, Michael. Wisconsin Death Trip. University of Wisconsin Press: 2000. A collection of photographs taken of one Wisconsin town, paired with newpaper clippings of the same time. An interesting counterpoint to the Dana Collection scrapbooks and good resource for students to look at to think about creating a “digital” scrapbook.

Simpson, Judith W. et al. Creating Meaning Through Art: Teacher as Choice Maker. Prentice-Hall, Inc.: 1998. Describe different methods for analyzing artwork, including Feldman’s method.

Smolan, Rick. 24/7 Series. A series of books about different places where photographers are given one day to go out and take as many images as they can to capture the feel of a place. A wonderful resource for students to look at capturing a neighborhood, along with composition.

Student Resources

Atlas of New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1911. Maps of New Haven and surrounding areas.

Beer Atlases. New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1868. Maps of New Haven and surrounding areas.

Dolittle, Amos. Map of New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1817/24. A map of the New Haven Green, plus a little more of the surrounding area.

Google Maps, “My Map.” July 22, 2008. http://maps.google.com/ (accessed July 22, 2008). This is a great site to get aerial maps of a variety of different places, and involves a user interface where you can create your own “places of interest” on the map.

Kensett, Thomas. A Plan of the Town of New Haven With All the Buildings in 1748. New Haven, CT: 1806. A map of New Haven in 1748.

New Haven Colony Historical Society. Inside New Haven’s Neighborhoods: A Guide to the City of New Haven. The City of New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1982. The original book about New Haven’s neighborhoods. It gives good background information about each neighborhood and will also be the basis for the format of our work.

New Haven Colony Historical Society. Images of America: New Haven Reshaping the City 1900 -- 1980. Arcadia Publishing. Charleston, SC: 2002. A fantastic collection of images from the Historical Society of New Haven throughout different time periods. A great collection for use in the classroom.

New Haven Museum and Historical Society. 114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT. A museum in New Haven which houses a variety of resources for students to access such as architectural drawing, journals, inventories of houses, scrapbooks, photograph collection, etc. We will use their resources through class visits and field trips.

Sandborn Maps. New Haven. New Haven, CT: 1888. These are a group of maps updated every twenty years or so (more often in times of large population increase) which show the material each building is made of and where the fire hydrants are located. Can also be accessed online at: http://www.library.yale.edu/MapColl/print_sanborn.html.

Smolan, Rick. 24/7 Series. A series of books about different places where photographers are given one day to go out and take as many images as they can to capture the feel of a place. A wonderful resource for students to look at capturing a neighborhood, along with composition.

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