In terms of population, Bridgeport
is the largest city in Connecticut. Since it covers only 16 square miles of land, not including bodies of water, it is also the state’s most densely populated city.
It contains 79% of the region’s high density residential land-uses. High density residential is also the largest land-use category within Bridgeport itself. It takes up 25% of the city’s area. Another 22% of the city is medium density residential, 8% is commercial, nearly 7% is industrial and 8% is institutional. Vacant property, which may be in any category, is estimated to be 8.5%.
Bridgeport, and to a lesser extent, Stratford and Fairfield, also differ dramatically from the three northern, suburban towns in the region. Thirty-three percent of the region’s commercial land is located in the city, as is 33% of the region’s industrial land, and over 25% of the region’s institutional land.
Bridgeport is the center of banking and healthcare for the region, as well as the port of entry for most of the bananas and other fresh fruit that come to the East Coast from South and Central America. The city has a history of immigration and ingenuity. Bridgeport’s most famous citizen and former mayor, P.T. Barnum left the city Seaside Park, Washington Park, and the downtown Barnum Museum, his former home.
Bridgeport is also the birthplace of the sewing machine, first mass produced by Elias Howe, and the Frisbee, developed by workers at the Frisbie Pie Company. The city also has a long history as a reception area for immigrants, one that it carries on today.
Since World War II, the Bridgeport has declined, at first in population, and then in manufacturing. In particular, young replacement homebuyers have been attracted to the suburbs. Among other things, this meant a loss of replacement leadership for civic associations and PTAs and Scouts and other organizations that make neighborhoods work.
During the last decade, a resurgence has occurred as City Hall, business leaders, neighborhood groups, and other various governmental agencies have worked to regain fiscal solvency and pursue economic development opportunities.
The numerous projects completed include the construction of a new downtown campus for Housatonic Community and Technical College, refurbishment of McLevy Green and the Broad Street Steps, the West End Industrial Development area and the Bridgeport Regional Sports and Entertainment Complex.