Marcy Barack Black

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Off-campus tours, Page 2
The Boston Globe

Frank Bruckmann is a painter who came to New Haven and stayed because of the thriving arts community.

''We all know that once artists move in and make a place funky and cool, it becomes more desirable to everyone," Bruckmann said.

The results are in the shops and restaurants of Westville, where he lives, and the lofts of Ninth Square, a former warehouse district south of historic New Haven Green.

After a Yale tour guide walked us through the campus and the history of the university, we wandered the Broadway shopping district. A dazzling sidewalk display of fresh flowers drew us into Gourmet Heaven to choose lunch from steaming buffet tables and cold deli cases stocked with salads, meat, and cheese.

Up the street, pastel-colored beaded necklaces, bracelets, and earrings draped the walls and tables at Alexia Crawford. I snagged a photo album encrusted with pink seed beads for my daughter at Urban Outfitters, a few doors down from the Yale Bookstore (a Barnes & Noble store).

Abandoning the girls at a coffee shop where the tables were crowded with lattes and laptops, we moms checked into the Farnam Guest House on prosperous Prospect Street. The owners were out, so we let ourselves in with a key left for us under the welcome mat. We made tea and unwound in the large Wedgwood-blue parlor furnished with a grand piano, a pump organ, plants, books, and a ceremonial sword displayed over the door.

Downtown New Haven offers 123 restaurants. We picked an Eritrean spot on the principle that when dining out, eat what you can't get at home. Owner Gideon Gebreyesus welcomed us to Caffé Adulis across from the Shubert Theater on College Street. Our dinners arrived on a metal platter two feet wide. Various stews were arranged on crepe-like sourdough flatbreads. More flatbread -- plain, beet, and carrot-flavored -- served in lieu of cutlery.

We dug in with our fingers and savored the unfamiliar spices. Later, sated, we nested under goose down in a huge second-floor room at the B&B. On an early morning run, my friend discovered 425-acre East Rock Park along the Mill River, with its a rose garden, hiking trails, tennis courts, and a road to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the 380-foot summit.

Black bean soup is the specialty at the Atticus Bookstore and Cafe on Chapel Street, but not for breakfast. We chose eggy striatta, chocolate croissants, and an informal seminar on New Haven's modern architecture from Edward De Barbieri, a Yale divinity student sitting at a nearby table. The steel and glass building we sat in houses the Yale Center for British Art. It was architect Louis I. Kahn's last project, completed after his death in 1974, and was the first US museum to incorporate retail space in its design. Kahn's first big commission, the Yale University Art Gallery (1953), is across the street.

New Haven Coliseum, built in 1972, is in the midst of demolition; the area will be the site of the new Long Wharf Theatre, possible hotel and residential development, and a new junior college.

''Jim Morrison was arrested there, if you know the song," DeBarbieri said, referring to the line ''Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven" from The Doors' song ''Peace Frog."

The streets in New Haven were empty that morning. Whoever wasn't in church was shopping at Ikea. The Swedish home furnishings retailer opened its first outpost in New England here in summer 2004. Healy said the blue and yellow big box by the harbor brings more than 12,000 people a day to the city.

So, you certainly need not know a Yalie to enjoy New Haven.

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