A History of Urban Renewal in New Britain

By at April 5, 2018 | 3:15 pm | Print

anthony-vinci

Last Wednesday, March 28, graduate student, Anthony J. Vinci majoring in Public History at CCSU, held an opening reception for about 50 people at Gallery 66 for his “New Britain Urban Renewal” Exhibit.

Images were on display that help illustrate the history of urban renewal in New Britain. Copies of documents and an array of images from the urban renewal project lined the walls.

Vinci’s research aims to document and show how urban renewal policy literally transformed the city of New Britain. Vinci said he enjoys researching Urban, Public, and African American history as he begins a doctoral program in higher education this summer at Central Connecticut State University.

“I originally started the research because I was interested from another class on urban history. I focused on how urban renewal affected the City of New Haven. Since I come from New Britain I wanted to see how that affected my hometown area. The project grew from there” said Vinci. “The project starts from 1955-72 but it also talks a bit about 1951 because that is when Robert Moses, who actually was one of the main individuals who enacted urban renewal, ended up starting that in New Britain.”

The project began at the New Britain Public Library and then expanded to Gallery 66, at 66 West Main St.

“I was able to build on that draft (at the library) and make a more complete product,” Vinci added. “A lot of the pictures were from the New Britain Public Library History Room and then I was able to scan a couple of books from the New Britain City Municipal records.”

Vinci said he found that the City of New Haven had one mayor in the time period of 1956-72, but New Britain had seven mayors.

“In New Britain it was much harder to implement these plans when you have seven different mayors than when you have one agenda,” said Vinci. “The urban renewal made the manufacturing industries want to move out as it changed the City alignment. And small businesses moved from the City as there were highways and they wanted to implement Westfarms Mall. It was tougher for smaller businesses to compete.”

Gerry Amodio, executive director of the Downtown District said, the Visitor’s Center is lucky to have such wonderful exhibits.

“For lifers, we lived this. We saw this,” said Amodio. “We are very excited.”

Exhibit Curator Adrian Elliott said the project uses both of their imaginations.

“He had to get visual things. It was a hard thing,” said Elliot. “I am so excited that Anthony chose me to help him do this project.”

The exhibit will last until April 30.

“I hope this will spark some interest for other individuals to research the history of urban renewal in New Britain,” Vinci said.

For further questions contact Anthony J. Vinci at anthony.vinci@my.ccsu.edu or exhibit designer & curator, Elliott at 860-881-7801 or adrian8669@gmail.com.

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