Surveyor John Brockett created this square as part of his plan for New Haven in 1640. During its early history, the green served variously as a parade ground and as a cemetery. Reverend James Pierpont planted the square’s first elms in 1686; politician James Hillhouse added more in 1784 as part of his city improvement effort. During the early nineteenth century, architects Ithiel Town and Asher Benjamin designed the First Church of Christ and Trinity Episcopal Church within the green, and David Hoadley designed the United Church of Christ. In 1805 the Committee of Proprietors of the Common and Undivided Lands in New Haven was established to manage the square. In 1910 Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and architect Cass Gilbert recommended in their report to the New Haven Civic Improvement Committee that the common be renewed through regrading and tree replanting. The Olmsted Brothers firm enlarged and restored the square’s bordering mall in 1912. In the 1980s the Garden Club of New Haven partnered with the proprietors and the city to replace many of the elms.
Located adjacent to Yale University’s ‘Old Campus,’ this sixteen-acre square is bordered by gravel paths that form a mall edged by ornamental fencing (1846) and shaded by double rows of elm trees. The square is divided into two rectangles, known as the Upper and Lower Green, by the intervening Temple Street. Paved walkways shaded by elm trees radiate from the Upper Green’s corners to connect to the churches aligned along Temple Street. Similar paths intersect across the Lower Green to reach Temple Street and the World War I Memorial Flagpole and Honor Roll, sculpted by Michele Martino in 1928, at the lawn’s center. The Bennett Memorial Fountain (1908) is situated at the Lower Green’s southeast entrance, surrounded by brick pavement that frames the green along Chapel Street. The New Haven Green Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1970.