“The Park City”
“The area that is now Bridgeport was settled in the mid-17th century by farmers from the older towns of Stratford and Fairfield. Centers of settlement were Stratfield, present North Avenue; Pembroke, now Old Mill Green; and Newfield, present downtown. The site of Bridgeport was owned by the Pequonnock or Golden Hill band of the Paugussett Indian tribe. In 1695 the settlers of the area established a church, Pequonnock Parish. Newfield was renamed Bridgeport and made a borough of the Town of Stratford in 1800. Bridgeport became chartered as a city. Municipal bonds helped bring the Housatonic Railroad to Bridgeport. The city’s success was due to its location on a good harbor and favorable railroad connections. With the introduction of steam power, harbor commerce was supplanted by manufacturing as the mainstay of the economy.
Bridgeport was made the county seat of Fairfield County in 1853. By the end of the Civil War, a thriving sewing machine industry has developed. Bridgeport was the birthplace of the midget Tom Thumb, the residence of Phineas Taylor Barnum and the home of his circus winter quarters. Immigrants from many. states and countries settled here, found work, built homes and raised families here. Manufacturing in this heavily industrialized city aided the Allied cause during two World Wars. From 1933 to 1957, local politics were dominated by the Socialist mayor, Jasper McLevy. Large areas of the city underwent urban renewal in the 1960s. Since 1974 the largest city in Connecticut, Bridgeport today is part of the New York metropolitan area, yet remains a city of homes and neighborhoods.”
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