Bridgeport Connecticut

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Bridgeport is the most populous city and a major port in the U.S. state of Connecticut. With a population of 148,654 in 2020, it is also the fifth-most populous in New England. Located in Fairfield County at the mouth of the Pequonnock River on Long Island Sound, it is 60 miles (97 km) from Manhattan and 40 miles (64 km) from The Bronx. It is bordered by the towns of Trumbull to the north, Fairfield to the west, and Stratford to the east. Bridgeport and other settlements in Fairfield County make up the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk-Danbury metropolitan statistical area, the second largest metropolitan area in Connecticut. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk-Danbury metropolis forms part of the New York megacity.

Showman P. T. Barnum was a resident of the city and served as the town's mayor in the late 19th century. Barnum built four houses in Bridgeport and housed his circus in town during winter. The first Subway restaurant opened in Bridgeport's North End in 1965. The Frisbie Pie Company was founded in Bridgeport, and the city is credited as the birthplace of the Frisbee. After World War II, industrial restructuring and suburbanization caused the loss of many jobs and affluent residents, leaving Bridgeport struggling with poverty and violent crime. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Bridgeport has begun redevelopment of its downtown and other neighborhoods.

Bridgeport was inhabited by the Paugussett native American tribe during the start of European colonization. The earliest European communal settlement was in the historical Stratfield district, along US Route 1; known in colonial times as the King's Highway. Close by, Mount Grove Cemetery was laid out on what was a native village that extended past the 1650s. It is also an ancient Paugusett burial ground.

The burgeoning farming community grew and became a center of trade, shipbuilding, and whaling. The town incorporated to subsidize the Housatonic Railroad and rapidly industrialized following the rail line's connection to the New York and New Haven railroad. The namesake of the town was the need for bridges over the Pequonnock River that provided a navigable port at the mouth of the river. Manufacturing was the mainstay of the local economy until the 1970s.

The first documented European settlement within the present city limits of Bridgeport took place in 1644, centered at Black Rock Harbor and along North Avenue between Park and Briarwood Avenues. The place was called Pequonnock (Quiripi for "Cleared Land"), after a band of the Paugussett, an Algonquian-speaking Native American people who occupied this area. One of their sacred sites was Golden Hill, which overlooked the harbor and was the location of natural springs and their planting fields. (It has since been blasted through for construction of an expressway.) The Golden Hill Indians were granted a reservation here by the Colony of Connecticut in 1639; it lasted until 1802. (One of the tribes acquired land for a small reservation in the late 19th century that was recognized by the state. It is retained in the Town of Trumbull.)

Bridgeport's early years were marked by residents' reliance on fishing and farming. This was similar to the economy of the Paugusset, who had cultivated corn, beans, and squash; and fished and gathered shellfish from both the river and sound. A village called Newfield began to develop around the corner of State and Water streets in the 1760s. The area officially became known as Stratfield in 1695 or 1701, due to its location between the already existing towns of Stratford and Fairfield. During the American Revolution, Newfield Harbor was a center of privateering.

By the time of the State of Connecticut's ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, many of the local farmers held shares in vessels trading at Newfield Harbor or had begun trading in their own name. Newfield initially expanded around the coasting trade with Boston, New York, and Baltimore and the international trade with the West Indies. The commercial activity of the village was clustered around the wharves on the west bank of the Pequonnock, while the churches were erected inland on Broad Street. In 1800, the village became the Borough of Bridgeport, the first so incorporated in the state. It was named for the Newfield or Lottery Bridge across the Pequonnock, connecting the wharves on its east and west banks. Bridgeport Bank was established in 1806. In 1821, the township of Bridgeport became independent of Stratford.

The West India trade died down around 1840, but by that time the Bridgeport Steamship Company (1824) and Bridgeport Whaling Company (1833) had been incorporated and the Housatonic Railroad chartered (1836). The HRRC ran upstate along the Housatonic Valley, connecting with Massachusetts's Berkshire Railroad at the state line. Bridgeport was chartered as Connecticut's fifth city in 1836 in order to enable the town council to secure funding (ultimately $150,000) to provide to the HRRC and ensure that it would terminate in Bridgeport. The Naugatuck Railroad—connecting Bridgeport to Waterbury and Winsted along the Naugatuck—was chartered in 1845 and began operation four years later. The same year, the New York and New Haven Railroad began operation, connecting Bridgeport to New York and the other towns along the north shore of the Long Island Sound.

Now a major junction for western Connecticut, the city rapidly industrialized. Following the Civil War, it held several iron foundries and factories manufacturing firearms, metallic cartridges, horse harnesses, locks, and blinds.Wheeler & Wilson's sewing machines were exported throughout the world. Bridgeport annexed the West End and the village of Black Rock and its busy harbor in 1870. In 1875, P. T. Barnum was elected mayor of the town, which afterwards served as the winter headquarters of Barnum and Bailey's Circus and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

In 1894, Bridgeport's Slavic immigrants played a major role in the development of the Orthodox Christian faith in America when they met with Fr Alexis Toth (now Saint Alexis) and founded Holy Ghost Russian Orthodox Church on the city's Eastside. This parish became the mother church of all Orthodox Churches in New England.

From 1870 to 1910, Bridgeport became the major industrial center of Connecticut and its population rose from around 25,000 to over 100,000, including thousands of Irish, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans, English, and Italian immigrants.

Among the initiatives, the Singer factory joined Wheeler & Wilson in producing sewing machines and the Locomobile Company of America was a prominent early automobile manufacturer, producing a prototype of the Stanley Steamer and various luxury cars.

Further, the Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. was founded in 1882, with its wares sold nationally, and the company became part of the International Silver Company in 1898. (The H&E brand, in fact, continued well into the 1950s and was advertised in national magazines such as LIFE and Ladies' Home Journal.)

The town was also the center of America's corset production, responsible for almost 20% of the national total, and became the headquarters of Remington Arms following its 1912 merger with the Union Metallic Cartridge Co. Around the time of the First World War, Bridgeport was also producing steam-fitting and heating apparatuses, brass goods, phonographs, typewriters, milling machines, brassieres, and saddles.

In the summer of 1915, a series of strikes imposed the eight-hour day on the town's factories; rather than moving business elsewhere, the success spread the eight-hour day throughout the Northeast. The First World War continued the city's expansion so that, on the eve of the Great Depression, there were more than 500 factories in Bridgeport, including Columbia Records' primary pressing plant. The build-up to World War II helped its recovery in the late 1930s.

Restructuring of heavy industry starting after the mid-20th century caused the loss of thousands of jobs and residents. Like other urban centers in Connecticut, Bridgeport suffered during the deindustrialization of the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Continued development of new suburban housing attracted middle and upper-class residents, leaving the city with a higher proportion of poor. The city suffered from overall mismanagement, for which several city officials were convicted, contributing to the economic and social decline. In September 1978, Bridgeport teachers went on a 19-day strike due to deadlocked contract negotiations. A court order, as well as a state law that made strikes by public workers illegal in Connecticut, resulted in 274 teachers being arrested and jailed. Bridgeport made numerous efforts at revitalization. In one proposal, Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn was to build a large casino, but that project failed. In 1991, the city filed for bankruptcy protection but was declared solvent by a federal court.

In the early 21st century, Bridgeport has taken steps toward redevelopment of its downtown and other neighborhoods. In 2004, artists' lofts were developed in the former Read's Department Store on Broad Street. Several other rental conversions have been completed, including the 117-unit Citytrust bank building on Main Street. The recession halted, at least temporarily, two major mixed-use projects including a $1-billion waterfront development at Steel Point, but other redevelopment projects have proceeded, such as the condominium conversion project in Bijou Square. In 2009, the City Council approved a new master plan for development, designed both to promote redevelopment in selected areas and to protect existing residential neighborhoods. In 2010, the Bridgeport Housing Authority and a local health center announced plans to build a $20 million medical and housing complex at Albion Street, making use of federal stimulus funds and designed to replace some of the housing lost with the demolition of Father Panik Village. Recently, MGM announced plans to build a waterfront casino and shopping center in the city, awaiting approval by the state government. If built, the development will create 2,000 permanent jobs and about 5,779 temporary jobs.

On March 10, 1860, Abraham Lincoln spoke in the city's Washington Hall, an auditorium at the old Bridgeport City Hall (now McLevy Hall), at the corner of State and Broad Streets. The largest room in the city was packed, and a crowd formed outside, as well. Lincoln received a standing ovation before taking the 9:07 pm train that night back to Manhattan. A plaque marks the site where Lincoln spoke; later that year, he was elected president.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke three times at the Klein Auditorium during the 1960s. Additionally, President George W. Bush spoke before a small group of Connecticut business people and officials at the Playhouse on the Green in 2006. President Barack Obama also spoke at the Harbor Yard arena in 2010 to gain support for the campaign of Democratic Governor Dan Malloy.

Bridgeport lies along Long Island Sound at the mouth of the Pequonnock River.

Bridgeport has many distinct neighborhoods, divided into five geographic areas: Downtown, the East Side, the North End, the South End, and the West Side.

Under the Köppen climate classification, Bridgeport straddles the humid subtropical climate (Cfa) and humid continental climate (Dfa) zones with long, hot summers, and cool to cold winters, with precipitation spread fairly evenly throughout the year. Bridgeport, like the rest of coastal Connecticut, lies in the broad transition zone between the colder continental climates of the northern United States and southern Canada to the north, and the warmer temperate and subtropical climates of the middle and south Atlantic states to the south.

The warm/hot season in Bridgeport is from mid-April through early November. Late day thundershowers are common in the hottest months (June, July, August, September), despite the mostly sunny skies. The cool/cold season is from late November though mid March. Winter weather is far more variable than summer weather along the Connecticut coast, ranging from sunny days with higher temperatures to cold and blustery conditions with occasional snow. Like much of the Connecticut coast and nearby Long Island, NY, most of the winter precipitation is rain or a mix and rain and wet snow in Bridgeport. Bridgeport averages about 33 inches (85 cm) of snow annually, compared to inland areas like Hartford and Albany which average 45–60 inches (110–150 cm) of snow annually.

Although infrequent, tropical cyclones (hurricanes/tropical storms) have struck Connecticut and the Bridgeport metropolitan area. Hurricane landfalls have occurred along the Connecticut coast in 1903, 1938, 1944, 1954 (Carol), 1960 (Donna), Hurricane Gloria in 1985, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Bridgeport lies in USDA garden zone 7a, averaging about 92 days annually with freeze. Coastal Connecticut is the broad transition zone where so-called "subtropical indicator" plants and other broadleaf evergreens can successfully be cultivated. As such, Southern Magnolias, Needle Palms, Windmill palm, Loblolly Pines, and Crape Myrtles are grown in private and public gardens. Like much of coastal Connecticut, Long Island, NY, and coastal New Jersey, the growing season is rather long in Bridgeport—averaging 210 days from April 8 to November 5 according to the National Weather Service in Bridgeport.

The average monthly temperature ranges from 31.4 Â°F (−0.3 Â°C) in January to 75.7 Â°F (24.3 Â°C) in July. The record low is −7 Â°F (−22 Â°C), set on January 22, 1984, while the record high is 103 Â°F (39 Â°C), set on July 22 in 1957 and 2011.

Precipitation averages 44.9 inches (1,140 mm) annually, and is somewhat evenly distributed throughout the year, with March and April the wettest months. Annual snowfall averages 33.6 inches (85 cm), falling almost entirely from December to March. As is typical of coastal Connecticut, snow cover does not usually last long, with an average of 33 days per winter with snow cover of at least 1 inch (2.5 cm).

As of the census of 2000, there were 139,529 people, 50,307 households, and 32,749 families living in the city. The population density was 8,720.9 people per square mile (3,367.0/km2). There were 54,367 housing units at an average density of 3,398.1 per square mile (1,312.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 45.0% White, 30.8% African American, 0.5% Native American, 3.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 31.9% of the population. Other ancestry groups include: Italian (8.6%), Irish (5.1%), Portuguese (2.9%), Polish (2.8%), and German (2.4%). There is also a sizeable Kurdish population in Bridgeport, primarily from Iraq.

As of the 2010 census, there were 144,229 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city residents was 39.6% White; 34.6% Black or African American; 3.4% Asian; and 4.3% from two or more races. A total of 38.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 50,307 households, out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 24.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.9% were non-families. 29.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.34.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 28.4% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,658, and the median income for a family was $39,571. Males had a median income of $32,430 versus $26,966 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,306. About 16.2% of families and 18.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.8% of those under age 18 and 13.2% of those age 65 or over.

According to 2010 census data, the Bridgeport MSA, containing all of Fairfield County, is the most economically unequal region in America, with 57% of the wealth going to the top income quintile.

Since the decline of its industrial sector beginning in the middle of the 20th century, Bridgeport has gradually adjusted to a service-based economy. Though a level of industrial activity continues, healthcare, finance, and education have become the centerpieces of Bridgeport's economy.

The two largest employers in the city are Bridgeport's primary hospitals, Bridgeport Hospital and St. Vincent's Medical Center. Park City Hospital closed in 1993 and was reopened in 2010 as elderly and homeless housing units.

Top employers in Bridgeport according to the cities 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

Venues for live theater and music events include:

Bridgeport was the annual home to Gathering of the Vibes, a weekend-long arts, music and camping festival, until it ended in 2015.

The Greater Bridgeport Symphony, established in 1945, performs at Bridgeport's 1,400-seat Klein Memorial Auditorium. Gustav Meier directed the orchestra from 1972 to 2013.

Bridgeport has five local historic districts, where exterior changes to structures are under the control of two Historic District Commissions:

Total Mortgage Arena serves as the city's sports and hospitality center. Seating 10,000, the Arena serves as the home rink of the Bridgeport Islanders AHL hockey team and the Sacred Heart University's men's hockey team and as the home court of Fairfield University's basketball team.

The Ballpark at Harbor Yard served as a minor-league baseball stadium from 1998 to 2017. It was built in 1998 to serve as the homefield of the Bridgeport Bluefish. From 2001 to 2003 it was the homefield for the Bridgeport Barrage, a Major League Lacrosse team. It is downtown on a former brownfield site. It is visually prominent to commuters on I-95 or on passing trains. On August 8, 2017, Mayor Joe Ganim announced that the Bluefish would be ending their 20-year stint at the ballpark at the end of the 2017 season. The ballpark was converted into an amphitheatre. The Bluefish played their final home game at the park on September 17, 2017, losing by a score of 9–2 to the Somerset Patriots.

Kennedy Stadium serves as a community sports facility. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was the home of an Atlantic Coast Football League minor league football team, the Bridgeport Jets, a New York Jets farm team also known locally as the Hi-Ho Jets due to their sponsorship by the (Hi-Ho) D'Addario construction company.

Fairfield University is in the neighboring town of Fairfield, and many of the athletic teams play on campus. Only the men's and women's basketball teams play in Bridgeport.

Nutmeg Curling Club, one of two curling clubs in Connecticut, is in Bridgeport. It is the home club of the 2013 USA Mixed National Champions, led by club members Derek Surka and Charissa Lin. The club is a member of the Grand National Curling Club Region.

Bridgeport has a storied history in professional sports. Bridgeport native Jim O'Rourke was the first baseball player to earn a hit in National League history in 1876. The founder and original owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Charles Ebbets, married his second wife in Bridgeport in 1922, five years before his death.

Bridgeport's public park system led to its official nickname, "the Park City". The city's first public park was the westerly portion of McLevy Green, first set aside as a public square in 1806; the Clinton Park Militia Grounds (1666) and Old Mill Green (1717) were set aside earlier as public commons by the towns of Fairfield and Stratford, respectively. As the city rapidly grew in population, residents recognized the need for more public parks and by 1864, Barnum and other residents had donated approximately 44 acres (180,000 m2) to create Seaside Park, now increased by acquisition and landfill to 375 acres (1.52 km2). In 1878, over 100 acres (400,000 m2) of land bordering the Pequonnock River was added as Beardsley Park.Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City's Central Park, designed both Seaside and Beardsley Parks. Over time, more parks were added including 35-acre (140,000 m2) Beechwood Park and Pleasure Beach, home to an amusement park for many years. Went Field on the West End, between Wordin Avenue and Norman Street, used to be the winter headquarters of Barnum's circus.

The city is governed by the mayor-council system. Twenty members of the city council are elected from districts. Each district elects two members. The mayor is elected at-large by the entire city

Bridgeport is notable for having had a socialist mayor for 24 years, Jasper McLevy, who served from 1933 to 1957.

Mayor Joseph P. Ganim was involved in a corruption scandal, as was Mayor Eddie Perez of Hartford in 2010. In June 2006, Mayor John M. Fabrizi admitted that he had used cocaine while in office.

Bridgeport is recognized for its polarizing political culture. The city's current mayor, Joseph P. Ganim, has served the city seven terms since first taking office in 1991. After being indicted on charges of corruption in 2003, Ganim served nine years in federal prison. After his release in 2015, Ganim announced his mayoral campaign to serve a sixth term in office. His campaign ran on a theme of providing him with a "second-chance," as he was renowned for his work of escaping the city from bankruptcy and build its economy from a post-industrial standpoint.

In a divisive primary election between him, the city's mayor at the time, Bill Finch, and University of Bridgeport professor and real estate developer, Mary-Jane Foster, Ganim was able to receive the endorsement of the politically volatile democratic town committee, paving the way to his victory for being reelected mayor at the end of year.

Bridgeport votes Democratic at the presidential level. In 1972 Richard M. Nixon was the last Republican to win the city; since then Democrats have prevailed, often by comfortable margins, the lone exception being 1984 when Walter Mondale carried the city by just 76 votes (0.16 percent) over Ronald Reagan.

Bridgeport's Democratic Town Committee has the authority to nominate and endorse Democratic candidates running for local office, and they have the resources to outperform challenger slates that may compete with them. There have been numerous calls for better transparency and reform of the committee altogether. The chairman is former state representative and local restaurateur, Mario Testa.

Bridgeport is home to the University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community College, St. Vincent's College, and the Yeshiva Gedola of Bridgeport. The Yeshiva Gedola is the home of the Bridgeport Community Kollel, a rabbinic fellowship program.

The University of Bridgeport's Ernest C. Trefz School of Business offers undergraduate and graduate programs.

The city's public school system has 30 elementary schools, three comprehensive high schools, two alternative programs and an interdistrict vocational aquaculture school. The system has about 20,800 students, making the Bridgeport Public Schools the second largest school system in Connecticut after Hartford. It is ranked #158 out of the 164 Connecticut school districts. The school system employs a professional staff of more than 1,700.

The city has started a large school renovation and construction program, with plans for new schools and modernization of existing buildings.

Public high schools

Public magnet schools

Bridgeport is also home to private schools, including Bridgeport Hope School (K–8), Bridgeport International Academy (grades 9–12), Catholic Academies of Bridgeport (Pre-K–8), Kolbe Cathedral High School (9–12), St. Andrew Academy (Pre-K–8), and St. Ann Academy (Pre-K–8).

Bridgeport was NBC's pioneer UHF TV test site from December 29, 1949, to August 23, 1952; the equipment from the "Operation Bridgeport" tests was later deployed commercially at KPTV in Portland, Oregon (1952–1957). While Bridgeport is primarily served by New York City stations, some local UHF broadcasters operate today:

A list of films shot or partially filmed in the city:

Sikorsky Memorial Airport in neighboring Stratford was previously owned by the City of Bridgeport before closing a deal in 2016 that sold the land to Stratford. It once provided regional flights to major cities, but commercial operations at the airport were terminated in November 1999.

Bridgeport has several major roadways. Interstate 95 and the Route 8/Route 25 Connector meet in Downtown Bridgeport. I-95 runs east–west near the coast heading towards New York City to the southwest and Providence to the northeast. Routes 8 and 25 run north–south across the city, with the two routes splitting just north of the city. Route 8 continues towards Waterbury and Torrington and Route 25 continues towards the Danbury area. Both Routes 8 and 25 connect to the Merritt Parkway in the adjacent town of Trumbull.

Other major surface arteries are U.S. 1 (the Boston Post Road), which runs east–west north of Downtown, and Main Street, which runs north–south towards Trumbull center. The city also has several secondary state highways, namely, Route 127 (East Main Street), Route 130 (Connecticut Avenue, Stratford Avenue, Fairfield Avenue and Water Street), and the Huntington Turnpike.

The Bridgeport Traction Company provided streetcar service in the region until 1937. The Housatonic Railroad carried passengers North through the Pequonnock and Housatonic Valleys prior to 1933.

The city is connected to nearby New York City by both Amtrak and Metro-North commuter trains, which serve Bridgeport's Metro-North station. Many residents commute to New York jobs on these trains, and the city to some extent is developing as an outpost of New York–based workers seeking cheaper rents and larger living spaces. Connecting service is also available to Waterbury via Metro-North, and New Haven via Amtrak and Metro-North. Shoreline East service links Old Saybrook and New London with New Haven, which extends to Bridgeport and Stamford during weekday rush hours only.

The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry service runs from Bridgeport across Long Island Sound to Port Jefferson, New York; the three vessels Grand Republic, P.T. Barnum, and Park City transport both automobiles and passengers.

The Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (GBTA) provides bus service to Bridgeport and its immediate suburbs. Route 2 the Coastal Link goes west to Norwalk and east to Westfield's Connecticut Post Mall in Milford, from where Connecticut Transit can bring passengers to the New Haven Green. Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines both offer intercity bus service to points throughout the Northeast and points beyond.

The Bridgeport Fire Department provides fire protection and emergency medical services at the Basic life support level to the city of Bridgeport.

The Bridgeport Police Department is the primary law enforcement agency in Bridgeport, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It is responsible for most law enforcement within the geographical boundaries of City of Bridgeport.

Emergency medical services are provided by American Medical Response at the paramedic level.

Novels set in Bridgeport include:

Bridgeport has one of the highest property tax rates in Connecticut. A 2017 Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Minnesota Center of Fiscal Excellence study determined that Bridgeport had the second-highest property tax burden of any U.S. city (after Detroit), and the fourth-highest for commercial properties valued at more than $1 million (after Detroit, New York City, and Chicago).

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