Mind the Gaps

U nder two hours away, Manhattan is a titan. It has 12 times New Haven’s population in 1 1/2 times the space. It’s the media, fashion and banking capital of the planet. It’s a national cultural obsession, with more than 25 scripted TV shows currently set there—cartoons, sitcoms, dramas, thrillers, procedurals.

Despite what many of those shows suggest, there’s one thing New Haven has that Manhattan doesn’t: gaps. Not subway gaps, of course—Manhattan has miles and miles of those—but rather gaps between buildings. The structures making up Manhattan’s hundreds of blocks are almost always built right into each other, or at least soldered together at the joints. So it is that with few exceptions, Manhattan’s sidewalk-ers don’t even get inches of peripheral openness, let alone full-fledged alleyways large enough for Law & Order crime scenes or superhero showdowns.

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Design by the Jonathans

Too bad for them, because they’re missing out. New Haven’s gaps offer visibility the average pedestrian would never have otherwise—of the back of the Yale School of Architecture, for instance, which is just as buttoned-up as the front, or of grand backlot trees, now bare for winter. Gaps offer utility, too. Sometimes they’re paths to places you want to go, like Karaoke Heroes, where a quasi-open-air alley functions as an entry hall. Sometimes they’re just good places to sit on a bench.

Which speaks to something else New Haven has that Manhattan doesn’t, thanks in part to such gaps: room to breathe.

Photo Locations:

1. Between 814 and 816 State Street.
2. Yale School of Architecture back alley, off Park Street near Chapel.
3. Next to Authentic Beauty Salon & Spa (902 Whalley Avenue).
4. Karaoke Heroes (212 Crown Street).
5. Next to Pan’s Package Store (828 State Street).
6. Next to Citizens Bank (209 Church Street).
7. Next to the Graduate Clubhouse of the Elm City Club (155 Elm Street).
8. Between 149 and 143 Elm Street, New Haven.
9. Between Neville Wisdom’s Westville location (903 Whalley Avenue) and Sally Goodman Antiques (901 Whalley Avenue).
10. Next to The Eli Apartments (227 Church Street).

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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Turning down a dream editing job right out of college, Dan instead went into marketing and media sales to better cover the rent. Stints at Spin Magazine and Yahoo! followed. But he kept scratching that writing-and-editing itch—first on the side, then at a couple of startups. Dan is now scratching it as Daily Nutmeg's editor.

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