Former New Haven Mayor Richard Lee Dies

By Davis, Lance | Nation's Cities Weekly, February 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Former New Haven Mayor Richard Lee Dies


Davis, Lance, Nation's Cities Weekly


Richard C. Lee, the former mayor of New Haven, Conn., who many credit as a leader in the urban renewal effort, and the founder of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), died Feb. 2. He was 86.

"Under his leadership, New Haven became a great flagship city for urban redevelopment and later urban renewal, and then in human renewal," said Joel Cogen, executive director of the CCM.

Lee was the city's youngest and longest-serving mayor. He was first elected to office in 1954 and served seven more terms through 1970. He founded CCM in 1966.

Lee's administration was responsible for redeveloping New Haven's downtown, which included construction of the Chapel Square Mall, New Haven Coliseum, the demolition of slums to make way for Interstates 95 and 91, and the rejuvenation of blighted neighborhoods.

The redevelopment of four blocks in downtown New Haven was heralded in several national publications. He was also the subject of "Who Governs," a political science book by Robert Dahl.

"During Dick's time, the modern geography of New Haven was built," New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., president of NLC, told the Associated Press.

"At one time, New Haven had more urban renewal grants per capita than any other city in the United States. The city's comprehensive program of renewal was a model for dries all over the nation," said Cogen. "Lee also led New Haven to become one of six dries in the U.S. to receive a grant from the Ford Foundation for human renewal, which was the genesis of the war on poverty and community action."

In 1980, Lee was honored by the U. …

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