Jobs in Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States
Congregationalists founded the first English colony in central Connecticut in 1636 and soon settled throughout the state. They obtained a royal charter in 1662 and governed until 1818. The state has a strong maritime tradition.
During the 19th century it also became a major center for financial services and manufacturing. Irish and southeastern European immigrants came to work in the factories and introduced Catholicism. In the 1950s and 60s, economic expansion led to an influx of Puerto Rican and African-American workers, but 71 percent of the state’s population of 3.5 million is still non-Hispanic and white, and their religious traditions remain influential.
Ending of the Cold War and endemic corruption led to a period of late-20th century decline, but since 2008 the economy has begun to rebound. Finance, insurance and real estate now account for a third of the state’s GDP. manufacturing, the arts and tourism are also important.
Affluent communities within commuting distance from New York make Connecticut a high-income state, but wealth is unevenly distributed and many older industrial cities are now impoverished.
BRIDGEPORT – Park City
Portrait of Contemporary Bridgeport
With a population of just over 145,000, Bridgeport is the largest city in the state of Connecticut. It is located in Fairfield County, a heavily urbanized metropolitan area in western Connecticut on the northern shore of Long Island Sound. Hispanics (all races, 40%), Black African-Americans (30%) and Non-Hispanic Whites (22%) together account for 92 percent of the current population.
Fairfield is an affluent county, but Bridgeport is one of Connecticut’s impoverished post-industrial cities. Median household income is below both US and state averages, while unemployment and poverty are high. Some heavy industry remains and ferries and marine pilots still operate out of the port.
City residents also find employment in the surrounding area. The Greater Bridgeport Planning Authority has promoted conversion of derelict buildings to residential use. Today a new service economy based on healthcare, banking and higher education is emerging. Although many areas remain blighted and crime ridden, old-timers still love Bridgeport for its beaches, its history, its multiculturalism and its unique neighborhoods and parks.
Bridgeport was founded beside a deep natural harbor on the west bank of the mouth of the Pequonnock River. The harbor’s backwaters are crisscrossed by general traffic, foot and rail bridges dating to the mid-19th century.
The city has invested in parks since early days. These include: Clinton Park Militia Grounds, Old Mill Green and McLevy Green (early public commons); Washington Park (centerpiece for development of East Bridgeport); Seaside Park and Beardsley Park (initiatives of P.T. Barnum designed by Frederick Law Olmsted); Fayerweather Island and Tongue Point Lighthouses; and St. Mary’s Walking Path by the Sea.
The city sea breeze is refreshing and the climate is generally mild, though subject to extreme storms. Flooding is common but control measures are in place.
Early History and Industrial Revolution
In early days, Bridgeport harbor was used for coastal and West Indian trade. During the American Revolution the port settlement, then named Newfield, became a center for privateering. In 1798 the first bridge across the river opened and in 1800 Newfield was chartered as the borough of Bridgeport. In the early 19th century Bridgeport became a major railroad junction for western Connecticut. It chartered as a city in 1836 and grew into an important industrial center, specializing in heavy machinery, machine tools, brass products and armaments. In its heyday (1870-1929) some 500 production plants were located there. For a time it was also an important shipbuilding and whaling port. P.T. Barnum, renowned showman and co-founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, lived in Bridgeport for much of the 19th century. In his later years he became an influential politician. He was a Unionist during the Civil War and provided a platform for the works of abolitionist writers. While serving as mayor, he promoted civic investment in the city’s infrastructure and founded the Bridgeport Hospital.
Restructuring of heavy industry began after WWII. Many industrial plants were abandoned and replaced by public housing blocks. Suburban growth in the 1950s and 60s drained wealth away from the city and it began to decay. Nationwide deindustrialization and poor local governance led to further decline in the late 20th century, now beginning to be reversed.
Amenities and Cultural Attractions
Fun places include: the Barnum Museum, Barnum Palliser Historic District, Beardsley Zoo, Bluefish Baseball Club, Discovery Museum and Aquarium, Down Town Cabaret Theater, Klein Memorial Auditorium, Housatonic Community College Museum of Art and St. Margaret’s Shrine and Gardens.
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