A Narrative Script
by Teo Quintana and Violette de la Selle
How to get to know Crown Street? Nine blocks long, this New Haven Street offers an impressive array of disparate conditions. Quietly residential at one end, nearly abandoned at the other, and bustling with various forms of commerce and nightlife in between, Crown Street is one of New Haven’s most cosmopolitan streets. For this research project, we devised a collection of scripted tours that might encourage visitors to interact with the street in several unusual manners. Rather than simply visiting Crown Street to buy pizza, go to a club, or park the car, these tours call upon their participants to closely examine their environment on its own terms.
Inspired by Raymond Queneau’s story, Exercises in Style, where an argument on a bus is recounted differently by each passenger, we came to understand Crown Street as an urban text with multiple interpretations—none complete on their own. Accepting this, we realized that to get to know Crown Street required interacting with it in a multitude of ways, from simply walking its length to crisscrossing its sidewalks, to circumnavigating its intersections.
Taken together, these tours are an invitation to question the modes whereby one confronts the street everyday. Disorienting by nature, the tours choreograph a simple but extra-ordinary trajectory through Crown Street. Thus, By defamiliarizing oneself from the city, we hope that these tours will allow their participants to understand what frames their perceptions of and scripts their interactions with the city.