Learn About This Location
As the largest city in Connecticut, Bridgeport has a rich history that includes serving as a hub for colonial trade with the West Indies, having famed circus man P.T. Barnum as mayor and being the birthplace of the Frisbee. The city has also been a center for industry in New England, with Singer sewing machines, Holmes & Edward silver and Remington guns all having been manufactured here. Redevelopment of the downtown area in recent years includes ongoing work on a new concert amphitheater and a proposed casino complex.
The Community of Bridgeport
Bridgeport is situated on Long Island Sound, about 60 miles from New York City. The Connecticut Turnpike, I-95, runs parallel to the coast and state highway 8 dissects the city into east and west. Thirteen city neighborhoods comprise Bridgeport, including Downtown in the south-central area, The Hollow just north of Downtown, Black Rock with its residential areas and bustling commercial section with restaurants and art galleries to the south.
What to Do in Bridgeport
The 90-year-old Beardsley Zoo is one of the nation's best small zoos, complete with big cats like tigers and leopards, Condors and other large birds, red pandas and informational exhibits. Take part in an educational program or go for a ride on the carousel while you're visiting.
Walk along 3 miles of beaches at Seaside Park, a 325-acre complex with hiking trails, ball fields and picnic areas. Regular concerts in the summer can be fun; just bring a blanket to sit on. Statues dotted around the park honor veterans, local residents and P.T. Barnum. You can also see the Black Rock Harbor Light, a non-working lighthouse that can only be accessed at low tide.
Circus showman P.T. Barnum lived in Bridgeport for 40 years, and the ornate downtown museum that bears his name has more than 60,000 artifacts related to his career and the history of the city. The museum is undergoing extensive renovations following damage from a tornado and two hurricanes that struck in the past decade, so not all of the historic areas are publicly accessible and hours are limited. Don't worry, though: You can still see such oddities as the Feejee Mermaid, Tom Thumb's miniature carriages and the bones of a centaur.
One Place You Shouldn't Miss in Bridgeport
Visit the Housatonic Museum of Art for a surprise. Though it's on the grounds of a community college, the museum features work from the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s, as well as from other cultures. Pieces are nicely displayed throughout the 300,000-square-foot museum, and regular programs and exhibitions can both educate and delight you.
Dining in Bridgeport
Ralph N Rich's in downtown is a classic restaurant with a fancy atmosphere that's ideal for a special occasion. Known for their raw bar, excellent prime rib and delicious pasta dishes, Ralph N Rich's serves big portions of traditional Italian cuisine. Try the fixed price "Sunday Sauce" where anyone can come eat traditional Italian food served family style.
Ever since the late 19th century, Harborview Market has sold food to the residents of the Black Rock area. Evolving from a Swedish goods store in the late 1800s to a butcher shop to a grocery store to today's fun restaurant / coffee shop / bakery open for breakfast and lunch, Harborview is a great place to get a fancy omelet with homefries or the best Cuban sandwich north of Miami.