Bridgeport Connecticut

About Fairfield, CT Category Listings

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 eastern 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 towns 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 metropolitan area.

Showman P. T. Barnum was a resident of the city and served as the town's mayor (1871). Barnum built four houses in Bridgeport and housed his circus in town during winter. The city in the early 20th century saw an economic and population boom, becoming by all measures Connecticut's chief manufacturing city. Bridgeport was the site of the world's first mutual telephone exchange (1877), the first dental hygiene school (1949), and the first bank telephone bill service in the US (1981).Harvey Hubbell II invented the electric plug outlet in Bridgeport in 1912. The Frisbie Pie Company was founded in Bridgeport, and the city is credited as the birthplace of the Frisbee. The world's first Subway restaurant opened in the city's North End in 1965. After World War II, industrial restructuring and suburbanization caused the loss of many large companies and affluent residents, leaving Bridgeport struggling with issues of poverty, violent crime, and a bad image.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, Bridgeport has begun extensive redevelopment of its downtown and other neighborhoods. Bridgeport is home to 3 museums, the University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community Collage, Paier College, and part of Sacred Heart University as well as the state's only zoo.

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 was incorporated to subsidize the Housatonic Railroad and rapidly industrialized following the rail line's connection to the New York and New Haven railroad. The town was given its name because of 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.

In 1821, a small community of free blacks and runaway slaves was established in the South End along Main Street known as Little Liberia, with its own churches, schools and hotels, and served as a stop in the underground railroad. Many remaining Paugusset Indians also lived there.

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, the city began to industrialise.

The city's first immigrants were Irish Catholics who settled in the Sterling Hill section of the Hollow. Having come to the US to escape the famine, they arrived in town during the 1830s to build the railroad. They mostly lived in wooden four to six family tenements, often subdivided homes.

In 1842, showman P.T. Barnum spent a night in Bridgeport, and there met Charles Stratton, a local dwarf. He soon became part of Barnum's act and a star under the name "General Tom Thumb". Barnum moved to Bridgeport and built four houses in the city over the course of his life, the first being Iranistan.

In 1852, Barnum began an endeavor with William Noble to develop the land (inherited by Noble) on the other side of the Pequonnock River, across the river from Bridgeport to be known as "East Bridgeport" with Washington Park at the center. The new neighborhood had homes, commerce, and factories, centered around East Main Street. The neighborhood eventually became the East Side of Bridgeport (occasionally spelled "Eastside").

In 1863, during the Civil War, the Bridgeport Standard ran a series of articles encouraging the creation of a public park in the city. This led wealthy residents P.T. Barnum, William Noble and Nathaniel Wheeler to purchase the land on Long Island Sound and donating the land to the city in 1864. The land on the shore became Seaside Park. A second park was built near East Main Street, when in 1878, James Beardsley donated more than 100 acres (40 ha) to the city along the Pequonnock River under the condition that the land be "kept the same forever as a public park". Both parks were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, known for creating Central Park. These two large public parks gave Bridgeport the nickname "The Park City".

The county's Roman Catholic seat, St. Augustine Cathedral was finished in 1869, built by the Irish who had arrived 30 year earlier. Saint James Church, predating the archdiocese of Hartford, was the first Roman Catholic congregation in Fairfield County, starting with 250 members in 1842. The congregation gave rise to St Augustine's in Sterling Hill, the seat of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Following the Civil War, the town 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. Barnum also helped establish Fairfield County's first hospital (Conn.'s 3rd) and the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry, connecting the town to Long Island.

Harvey Hubbell founded Hubbell Incorporated in Bridgeport in 1888. The Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. was founded in 1882, its wares sold nationally, and the company became part of the International Silver Company in 1898. (The H&E brand continued well into the 1950s and was advertised in national magazines such as LIFE and Ladies' Home Journal.)Hungarian immigrants began to arrive, which led to the Ráckόczi Hungarian Aid Association in Bridgeport in 1887 and the American Hungarian Immigrant Aid Society 1892. They established themselves in the West End. 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 in the city's Eastside. This parish became the mother church of all Orthodox Churches in New England.

From 1870 to 1910, Bridgeport became the largest industrial center in Connecticut; its population rose from around 25,000 to over 100,000, including thousands of Irish, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans, English, and Italian immigrants. Jewish migration to the city began in the 1881, with an influx of Polish, Russian, and especially Hungarian Jews calling Bridgeport home. Bridgeport Jew Edwin Land grew up to invent the Polaroid.

In 1905, Bridgeport was already "the largest industrial center in the state, $49,381,348 was invested in manufacturing and the products being valued at $44,586,519." The city was a port of entry with its imports being valued at around $656,271 in 1908.

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.

The town was also the center of America's corset production, responsible for 19.9% 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.

Brideport's Italian immigrants settled in the "Central End", today's Little Italy, and the city was the 3rd most Italian in the state by 1910. Their newspapers were the weekly La Tribuna de Connecticut (1906-1908) and later La Sentinella (1920-1948) The West End along Wordin Avenue, known as "Hunktown", grew into one of the largest Hungarian communities in the US. It was visited by Hungarian republicans trying to take down the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, in order to garner support. The West Side nearby was home to Slovenians, French-Canadians and Swedish immigrants. By 1910 Bridgeport had grown into second largest city in Connecticut at 102,052, behind New Haven.

Between 1910 and 1920, during World War I, the city's population exploded from 102,054 to 143,555, due to the city's role in the First World War. Bridgeport had the largest factory in the world at the time, the new Remington Arms plant on Boston Avenue (on the East Side). Built in 1915, it had 13 separate buildings, each of them 5 stories, connected by a long corridor half a mile long. The purpose of the building was to fulfil a company order from the Russian tzar for a million rifles and 100 million round of ammunition. The construction site was protected by the National Guard to prevent Bolshevik arson. The factory by 1916 employed 16,000 people and led to the construction of "Remington City" in the Mill Hill neighborhood, and "Remington Village" in the East End, by Remington Arms.

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. Due to housing shortages in many US cities during World War I, the federal government created the US Housing Corporation. This resulted in 7 USHC housing developments being built in Bridgeport, notably Seaside Village in the South End and Black Rock Gardens in Black Rock. By this point, Remington Arms was producing 50% of America's cartrages during the war, with 17,000 employees, and homes for new workers were needed. The factory became a General Electric plant after the war. The First World War had 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 1920s saw the city's population stabilize at 143,555, after the war. The decade saw the city grow with more leasure and entertainment. In 1919, the city of Bridgeport bought Pleaseure Beach (also known as Steepchase Island) for $220,000. Pleasure beach was an amusement park and beach on an island in the East End next to Stratford. In 1920, the city parks commissioner began the process of creating a zoo in Beardsley Park. 1922 was the year the elegantly designed Majestic and Poli Palace theatures, were built downtown, along with the Savory Hotel. The 3,600 seat Poli Palace theatre (built by Sylvester Poli) was the largest theater in the state of Connecticut, with guided hand carved moldings and vaulted cealings. Bridgeport a stop became for performances with around 20 theatures. The Ritz Ballroom was opened in 1923. In 1928, the city bought an 800-acre (320 ha) racetrack and landing field in Lordship to construct Bridgeport Airport.

During the Great Depression the city elected Socialist party candidate Jasper McLevy as mayor in 1933. McLevy's election made headlines as a New England city had a socialist mayor. Known for cutting costs, he would serve as mayor for 12 terms, finally losing in 1957.

The Great Migration led southern African-Americans to Bridgeport around the 1930s (thanks to railroads) along with black foreigners (such as Cape Verdean), By 1930, Bridgeport had the third largest percentage of African Americans in New England. The Italían population by 1930 had more than doubled, more than 13,000 American-born children would be born to Italians in Bridgeport.

The build-up to World War II helped the city's recovery in the late 1930s. Sikorsky moved into the South Avenue plant in the 1940s.

Development made its expansion into the quiet suburban North End, north of Westfield Avenue. On Park Avenue in 1962 the Museam of Art, Science and Industry (MASI) was opened to the public, today's Discovery Museam and Planetarium. Known for the newly developed approach of hands on-exhibits, the Museam became science oriented later on. Continued development of new suburban housing attracted middle and upper-class residents, leaving the city with a higher proportion of poor. By the 1960s, Puerto Ricans had begun to immigrate to Bridgeport in large numbers, and by about 1970 had made up 10% of the city's population. Groups such as the local Young Lords branch organized themselves on East Main Street.

As cities across the country were renovating their central business district after the war, Bridgeport attempted its own urban renewal projects in its old downtown in the early 1960s during the construction of the highways. Bridgeport under Mayor Tedesco went under the 52-acre (21 ha) State Street redevelopment project, demolishing 52 acres on State Street, clearing the land for development. Replaced with modern high-rise office buildings, parking, the Route 8/25 expressway towards Waterbury and Newtown, and a shopping mall at its core. Large parts of Main Street were destroyed. Constructed with federal funding, on Lafayette Boulevard and Broad Street, the 450,000 acre, 2 story (with basement) Lafayette Shopping Plaza was erected, a downtown shopping mall with a Sears and a Gimbels department store as anchors connected to it.

The 12-story 855 Main Street (the first high rise in Bridgeport in decades) was built as well, and Middle Street was built the 18-floor Park City Plaza, in 1972 by the FD Rich Comeant with the hope that a major company would move in, which never occurred. The plan for three identical towers never materialized, due to finances. Bridgeport was largely bypassed by the New York companies heading to suburban Fairfield County. The block on Main Street would be demoshied and replaced with the $24 million Hotel Bridgeport Plaza, later a Holiday Inn. Much of north downtown Bridgeport would end up abandoned, neglected and boarded up as department and discount stores closed, leaving only federal and municipal buildings.

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. Pleasure Beach was sold 5 years after a rollercoaster caught fire. A year later the park closed for good.

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. In November 1978, a wave of arson passed through the city's East side, with the fire chief calling it as a microcosm of "the Bronx". The city suffered from overall mismanagement, for which several city officials were convicted, contributing to the economic and social decline.

The once busy Lafayette Shopping Plaza began to lose customers after Gimbel's closed in 1984. Replaced with a Read's store, the mall was later bought by Hi-Ho Industries and renamed "Hi-Ho Mall", until it closed in 1993 and became Housatonic Community College in 1997.

Bridgeport remained the state's second city and as Hartford's population continued to shrink, Bridgeport became the largest city in Connecticut in 1974, with a population of 142,546. A 1981 Times article read; "Bridgeport... for years has suffered an image problem when compared with Hartford because of that city's role as state capital and as the site of a number of large corporations." Mayor Mandanici's response was "Hartford reported state sales taxes of $712.7 million, but Bridgeport yielded state sales taxes of $890.4 million. That's economic power, right?" In 1985, Bridgeport was still Connecticut's chief manufacturing center, its major industries including General Electric, Remington Shaver, Bryant Electric, and Raybestos factories. A New York Times in 1985 stated Bridgeport was the fifth largest banking center in New England, with five of the banks based Bridgeport having assets of more than $6 billion. Between 1984 and 1989 the construction of the new $75 million headquarters for People's United Bank, the second largest bank in New England. The 10-story Connecticut National Bank building was demolished and replaced with the new 18-story Bridgeport Center overlooking McLevy Square, and was designed by famous architect Richard Meier. The bank establishing the first phone bank service in the US.

In 1991, the city filed for bankruptcy protection but was declared solvent by a federal court.

Bridgeport made numerous efforts at revitalization. In a proposal in 1995, Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn was to build a large casino, but that project failed due to traffic concerns. The project was opposed as rival Donald Trump feared a Bridgeport casino would harm his Atlantic City properties and proposed to build a theme park and potencial casino on the same site.

Later that same year, Mayor Mary C. Moran lost the election to Joseph Ganim, at 33 years old, the youngest person to hold that office. He was known for being one of the city's biggest promoters and under him the city was able to begin redevelopment with the construction of the Arena at Harbor Yard and the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. In 1999, city-owned Sikorsky Memorial Airport ceased its commercial regional flight offerings.

In 2003, Mayor Ganim was involved in a corruption scandal after being investigated by the FBI as he received gifts from developers in exchange for being allowed to build in Bridgeport. He was sentenced to federal prison, and was replaced by John Fabrizi.

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 under Mayor Finch approved a new master plan for development, designed both to promote redevelopment in selected areas and to protect existing residential neighborhoods. The plan was updated in April 2019. 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.

The Steel Point (or Steelpointe) project of Bridgeport's on the lower portion of the East Side finally led to the construction of a Bass Pro Shop in 2013, along with a Chipotle, Starbucks and T-Mobile, and a lighthouse with a marina and oyster bar). The plan for high-end mixed use apartments is in place, although concerns about gentrification have been raised. A hotel is also in the works. A new proposed train station in East Bridgeport, meant to be completed in 2021, was postponed in 2019.

By 2013 the city and local business owners agreed that work needed to be done in the downtown area north of Fairfield Avenue, nicknamed Downtown North, above. Made up of old empty brick buildings which were neglected for years, the city and developers began their rehabilitation starting in 2015, most of which are now converted apartments or retail. Bridgeport's downtown renovation has resulted in various restaurants, the renovation of the Bishop Arcade Mall, a comedy club, and theatres. A 2022 plan to renovate McLevy Hall is in place.

In 2017, MGM had announced plans to build a waterfront casino and shopping center in the city, awaiting approval by the state government. If built, the development would have created 2,000 permanent jobs and about 5,779 temporary jobs. After a legal battle with the Mohegan and Pequot tribes on the right to build a casino in Connecticut, the project "appears to be dead", and tenents such as Bridgeport Boatworks now occupy the proposed space. The construction of Honey Locust Square began on the East End, which when complete will house a supermarket (something the neighborhood lacks), a public library, a health center, and a retail building.

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.[100] 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, as well as in Bridgeport City Hall. Additionally, President George W. Bush spoke before a small group of Connecticut business people and officials at the Playhouse on the Green in 2006.[101] President Barack Obama also spoke at the Harbor Yard arena in 2010 to gain support for the campaign of Democratic Governor Dan Malloy.[102]

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

Bridgeport has many distinct neighborhoods,[107] divided into five geographic areas: Downtown, the East Side, the North End, the South End, and the West Side.[108]

East End

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.[109]

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 inhabitants per square mile (3,367.2/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.[113]European (white) 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.[114][115]

Bridgeport is known for having one of the largest communities of Puerto Ricans in the United States, it has the 7th largest population in the United States, with 30,250 people claiming Puerto Rican heritage in 1990, that number has grown to about 31,900 (22.10% of the population).[116][117] The city also has the 12th highest Cape Verdian population in the country.

45,270 people (31%)[118] is foreign born in 2010. According to the NewsTimes, 4.9% of Bridgeport's population is Mexican,[119] a number that has grown to 5.4% (7,949 people) in 2022, making it the most Mexican city in New England. Other Latino groups are also present, with people from the various Central Americans nations making up 5%.[120] Despite an exodus back to Brazil, possibly 40,000 Brazilians lived in Connecticut in 2013 (one of the largest concentrations in the US), most of whom reside in or around either Bridgeport or Danbury,[121] This led to the opening of a Brazilian consulate in the state capital of Hartford.[122] Migration to Connecticut began in the 90s and has since slowed down as many returned home.[123] Bridgeport also has the largest Cuban population in the state, with more than 1,000 of the state's 10,600 Cubans living in Bridgeport.[124] Jamaicans, the state's largest foreign-born group,[125] has a significant presence in Bridgeport, with 6.3% being Jamaican.[126]

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.[127][128]

Since the decline of its industrial sector beginning in the middle of the 20th century, Bridgeport has gradually adjusted to a service-based economy. As late as 1985, the city was still home to company plants such as General Electric, with 1,900 employees, and Remington Products, with 900, both of which are now closed. Bryant Electric didn't close its plant until 1988. The last major factory to close was the Sikorsky helicopter plant in 2015.[129]

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 in the South End closed in 1993 and was reopened in 2010 as elderly and homeless housing units.[130]

In April 2022, M&T Bank of Buffalo, New York, merged with Bridgeport-based People's United Financial. The combined company is now the 11th largest bank in the United States, and gave M&T a foothold in the New England market, in total serving 12 states. Although M&T laid off Bridgeport employees (which made national headlines),[131] the company as part of this effort made Bridgeport Center the regional M&T headquarters of New England. [132]

Top employers in Bridgeport according to the cities 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report[133]

Venues for live theater and music events include:[134]

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.

The Greater Bridgeport metropolitan area is home to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, 30 minutes from downtown Bridgeport.[138] One of the two aquariums in Connecticut, the aquarium focuses on Long Island Sound as well as creatures and convervation efforts from around the world.[139]

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

Bridgeport was once home to a Little Asia along Wood Avenue in the West Side, established in 2012 by local business owners with a sign and a festival every year. By 2016 the name had fallen out of use, and the committee no longer exists. The area is still home to Asian restaurants.[140][141]

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, the farm team of the New York Islanders team of the National Hockey League.[142]

The arena is also the home of the Westchester Knicks of the NBA G League (the farm team for the NBA New York Knicks) for the 2021–22 season. Their home stadium, Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY is currently being used as a vaccination clinic.[143]

For college teams, Total Mortgage serves as the home venue for 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.[144]

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,[145] led by club members Derek Surka and Charissa Lin. The club is a member of the Grand National Curling Club Region.

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.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument - Seaside Park

Seaside Park - Spanish American War memorial

The beach at Seaside Park

James Beardsley Monument at Beardsley Park in Bridgeport

Nathaniel Wheeler Fountain on Park Ave

The city has 1,300 acers of public space, with a pocket park in nearly every neighborhood.[146] 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;[147] 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. Washington Park in 1850 was located in the center of East Bridgeport.[148] 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 (18 ha) to create Seaside Park, now increased by acquisition and landfill to 375 acres (152 ha).[149] In 1878, over 100 acres (40 ha) of land bordering the Pequonnock River was added as Beardsley Park.[150]Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City's Central Park, designed both Seaside and Beardsley Parks.[151] Over time, more parks were added including 35-acre (14 ha) 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.

Bridgeport Center - An 18-floor postmodern building designed by Richard Meier and built 1989. It is the tallest building in Bridgeport.

Park City Plaza - an 18-story modernist style building completed in 1973.

Hotel Beach, a 13-story Art Deco building built downtown in 1927 on Fairfield Avenue.

Apartment house on Milne Street, in Sterling Hill, settled by the Irish. Three deckers, brick tenerments and small houses are found here.

Remington City rowhouses on Bond Street. Built for workers during WW1, emulates European cottage styles.

Queen Anne style tenements within the Barnum Palisser historic district in the South End, built by Barnum in the 1870s for working class families

1850s Victorian residences around Washington Park on the East Side

Golden Hill United Methodist Church in between Downtown and the Hollow near City Hall.

CityTrust Bank building, finished 1929. Today a Citi Bank branch and apartments above.

McLevy Hall, built 1854, 3 stories, the original Bridgeport City Hall and County Courthouse. Renamed after Mayor McLevy.

Bridgeport was largely bypassed by Fortune 500 companies moving to Fairfield County in the second half of the 20th century, due to the city's growing reputation for having a rough industrial character. Thus was also largely bypassed by the skyscraper construction boom of the 70s and 80s, resulting in fewer modern skyscrapers than otheir cities [152] The tallest building in Bridgeport is currently Richard Meier-designed the 16-story, 248-foot (76 m) Bridgeport Center, which was completed in 1989 and surpassed the 18-story Park City Plaza, which was completed in 1973.

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.[153] In June 2006, Mayor John M. Fabrizi admitted that he had used cocaine while in office.[154]

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.[155] 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.[156]

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.[156]

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. The chairman is former state representative and local restaurateur, Mario Testa.[158]

Bridgeport is home to the University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community College, Paier 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.[161] The University of Bridgeport's Ernest C. Trefz School of Business offers undergraduate and graduate programs.

Sacred Heart University is located in the neighboring suburb of Fairfield on the town line, with its campus extending into the North End of Bridgeport on Park Avenue. Many of its students live in the city's North End. It is the second largest Catholic University in New England (behind Boston Collage). [162] Sacred Heart has campuses in nearby Stamford, as well as Griswold, CT and Dingle, Ireland, as well as St. Vincent's College in Bridgeport. The University of Bridgeport has secondary campuses in Waterbury and Stamford. Paier College near the University of Bridgeport is the only Private Arts college in Connecticut. Founded in 1946 in West Haven and previously located in Hamden, the college recently relocated to Seaside Park in Bridgeport.[163][164]

The Greater Bridgeport Area (made up of the surrounding towns) is home to Fairfield University in neighboring Fairfield, and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

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.[165] 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

1181 Fairfield Ave, Bridgeport, CT. 06605

1 Lincoln Blvd, Bridgeport, CT. 06606

379 Bond St, Bridgeport, CT. 06610

60 St. Stephens Rd, Bridgeport, CT

Public magnet high schools

840 Old Town Road, Bridgeport, CT. 06606

1 Lincoln Blvd, Bridgeport, CT. 06606

Public military/trade high schools

160 Iranistan Ave, Bridgeport, CT. 06604

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;[168] 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 or New Haven-Hartford stations, some local UHF broadcasters operate today:

Cable:

A list of films shot or partially filmed in the city:[169]

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 the 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.[171] 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).[172]

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