81 miles NE of New York City

There has been a noticeable, positive uptick in attitude in this Sound-side city in recent years, a palpable sense that things are getting better. This is not to paper over the generalized afflictions of many of Connecticut's cities -- nearly a quarter of its citizens live at or below the poverty line, with the attendant urban afflictions that suggests. But all along, the city has had much to offer the leisure traveler: several performing-arts centers and theaters, outstanding museums, autumnal renewals of college football rivalries that date back over 120 years, and a growing number of notable restaurants.

Much of what is worthwhile about New Haven can be credited to the presence of one of the world's most prestigious universities. Yale University both enriches its community and exacerbates the usual town-gown conflicts -- a paradox with which the institution and civic authorities have struggled since the Colonial period.

Relatively little serious history has happened here, but there are a number of "firsts" that boosters love to trumpet. Yale awarded the first Doctor of Medicine degree in 1729 to a man who never practiced medicine. Noah Webster compiled his first dictionary here, Eli Whitney perfected his cotton gin, and a local man named Colt invented a revolver in 1836. The first telephone switchboard was made here, necessitated by a Rev. John E. Todd, who was the first person in the world to request telephone service. And the first hamburger was allegedly made and sold here, as was -- even less certainly -- the first pizza.