2012 Report for Upper State Street / Under91 Project


East Rock

Type of Site:



State and Humphrey Streets, New Haven, CT, 06511



Number of volunteers


Total volunteer hours


Number of events



Underpasses mark the lines of division between neighborhoods. But what if they also become a point of connection - the common ground shared by two sides of a highway? That is what activists from the Upper State Street district of New Haven have been trying to find out for the past four years, ever since local architect, property owner, and community leader Bob Frew postulated that the Humphrey Street underpass would look a lot less austere and intimidating if there were trees planted in the spaces between the highway spans. In 2011 URI helped to make that tree planting dream a reality. This year, the group of volunteers took things several steps further. Raising $10,000 in individual contributions through the social fundraising website Kickstarter, the group brought in professional photographers to take high-quality portraits of hundreds of people passing by the underpasses. Using the money they raised, they printed these portraits on a scale appropriate to the underpasses - 6'x4'. At weekly community events (12 so far), where volunteers bring their own wheat paste and URI and the project organizers bring the tools and equipment, volunteers have pasted the posters onto the walls of the Humphrey Street and State and Bradley underpasses. Instead of the monumental grey walls, gigantic portraits of their neighbors now greet passersby - or perhaps we should call them gallery visitors.