1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bridgeport
BRIDGEPORT, a city, a port of entry, and one of the county-seats of Fairfield county, Connecticut, U.S.A., co-extensive with the town of Bridgeport, in the S.W. part of the state, on Long Island Sound, at the mouth of the Pequonnock river; about 18 m. S.W. of New Haven. Pop. (1880) 27,643; (1890) 48,866; (1900) 70,996, of whom 22,281 were foreign-born, including 5974 from Ireland, 3172 from Hungary, 2854 from Germany, 2755 from England, and 1436 from Italy; (1910) 102,054. Bridgeport is served by the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway, by lines of coast steamers, and by steamers to New York City and to Port Jefferson, directly across Long Island Sound. The harbour, formed by the estuary of the river and Yellow Mill Pond, an inlet, is excellent. Between the estuary and the pond is a peninsula, East Bridgeport, in which are some of the largest manufacturing establishments, and west of the harbour and the river is the main portion of the city, the wholesale section extending along the bank, the retail section farther back, and numerous factories along the line of the railway far to the westward. There are two large parks, Beardsley, in the extreme north part of the city, and Seaside, west of the harbour entrance and along the Sound; in the latter are statues of Elias Howe, who built a large sewing-machine factory here in 1863, and of P. T. Barnum, the showman, who lived in Bridgeport after 1846 and did much for the city, especially for East Bridgeport. In Seaside Park there is also a soldiers’ and sailors’ monument, and in the vicinity are many fine residences. The principal buildings are the St Vincent’s and Bridgeport hospitals, the Protestant orphan asylum, the Barnum Institute, occupied by the Bridgeport Scientific and Historical Society and the Bridgeport Medical Society; and the United States government building, which contains the post-office and the customs house.
In 1905 Bridgeport was the principal manufacturing centre in Connecticut, the capital invested in manufacturing being $49,381,348, and the products being valued at $44,586,519. The largest industries were the manufacture of corsets—the product of Bridgeport was 19.9% of the total for the United States in 1905, Bridgeport being the leading city in this industry—sewing machines (one of the factories of the Singer Manufacturing Co. is here), steam-fitting and heating apparatus, cartridges (the factory of the Union Metallic Cartridge Co. is here), automobiles, brass goods, phonographs and gramophones, and typewriters. There are also large foundry and machine shops. Here, too, are the winter headquarters of “Barnum and Bailey’s circus” and of “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.” Bridgeport is a port of entry; its imports in 1908 were valued at $656,271. Bridgeport was originally a part of the township of Stratford. The first settlement here was made in 1659. It was called Pequonnock until 1695, when its name was changed to Stratfield. During the War of Independence it was a centre of privateering. In 1800 the borough of Bridgeport was chartered, and in 1821 the township was incorporated. The city was not chartered until 1836.
See S. Orcutt’s History of the Township of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport (New Haven, 1886).