Humans Conquer Highway, Cont’d

Neighbors took another step toward converting a drab concrete highway overpass that divides two neighborhoods into a living, human bridge.

The two neighborhoods are Upper State Street and Jocelyn Square.

Organizers first planted trees and painted fences in and around the overpass, by which I-91 split the area.

Then, this Saturday, they began taking pictures of people who live in the area. Nice ones. Some of them, taken by Chris Randall and Ian Christmann, are reproduced here.

The idea is eventually to plaster 200 portraits on the concrete. Both symbolically, and in reality, humans will have retaken the terrain.

Some six photographers took a total of 100 photos Saturday, according to project co-organizer Ben Berkowitz. Another communal shoot is scheduled for May 12 at 11 a.m. Once the group raises $9,600 for printed materials (help here), it plans to start hanging the pictures. And a highway overpass will become a gallery.

Berkowitz said the plan is to print the photos on five-foot-by-six-foot “UV paper,” then “wheat-paste” them to the concrete. The organizers would “welcome” donated work from an interested printer.

Pictured below are some shots of Saturday’s event. (Those are the color ones.) Berkowitz sent them in. New Haven has spent decades justifiably complaining about how highways divided us a half-century ago. In Jocelyn Square and Upper State Street, people have decided that they can not only fix the problem, but create new beauty and community in the process. Rather than just kvetch or try to recreate the past.

Click here to learn more about the project and get involved. Click here and here for two background stories.

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posted by: Win Davis on April 9, 2012  9:44am

A great project for New Haven, kudos to the organizers. I hope it can be replicated in other underpass and bridge areas around Town.  The Union Ave. underpass, water street and Church Street south extension bridge would benefit greatly from some smiling local faces. Anybody else have suggestions on more locations?

posted by: BenBerkowitz on April 9, 2012  11:50am

Thank you to everyone who came out and all the folks who are funding this at 

If you have not been involved yet in some capacity I highly recommend. This project is really a testament to the social benefit of a more connected neighborhood.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on April 9, 2012  3:32pm

Win ya know I would love for it to be in Cedar Hill but we are so far removed it would not have the impact that this underpass does.

I do have to add the photographers are brilliant every photo I have seen so far are fantastic!

posted by: Erin Gustafson on April 9, 2012  5:22pm

Win: The Grand Ave overpass between Adriana’s and Ferraro’s desperately needs brightening up! It’s such a huge psychological divide between Wooster Square and Fair Haven. If the Mill River project takes off, there would be businesses interested in it as well. The flip side of Wooster Square at the Chapel Street overpass could also use the same treatment for the same reason, although at this moment it’s all torn up for the I-95 construction.

This project is the kind of citizen-powered creativity that makes me love living here and I hope it’s successful beyond the organizers’ wildest dreams! If you’re making a list, please include Grand Ave and Chapel St!

posted by: RevKev on April 9, 2012  11:40pm

Correction: The next photo shoot is May 12th not May 6th.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on April 10, 2012  2:43am

Hey Erin,
You should do it! I’ll help you get it started!! Email me.
We are a growing disorganized band of merry men and women.


posted by: annegatling on April 17, 2012  6:07pm

hi all—this is a great project and i’m proud to help on kickstarter! 

Erin—at EDC we’ve discussed two underpasses with team working on the Mill River project—both along chapel and grand. We certainly want to discuss at next public meeting (stay tuned, not yet on calendar).  Should it be faces? or faces of people at work? some amazing things happening in those buildings!