African American History
Scavenger hunt extra credit
James Henry O’Rourke is known as one of the most colorful, popular, and accomplished baseball players of the late-19th century. He is widely known for obtaining the first recorded base hit in National League history in 1876, and throughout his career, O’Rourke would play with eight different profession teams during 23 seasons. In addition to baseball, O’Rourke was a law graduate from the Yale Law School and known as an eloquent orator, which even led to his nickname, “Orator Jim.” By 1895, James O’Rourke helped organize the Connecticut State League, in which he owned and managed several teams. For one of these teams, O’Rourke hired Harry Herbert, Bridgeport’s first African-American resident to play professional baseball (as the son of Irish immigrants, a heavily disparaged community at that time, this was just one of his many contributions to the quelling of stereotypes in the sport of baseball). O’Rourke also built a minor league stadium, Newfield Park, in Bridgeport’s East End and made many other contributions to baseball in Bridgeport, New Haven, and throughout Connecticut (as well as the New England area). He played his last game with the New Haven Wings on September 14, 1912, at the age of 62. Outside of Bridgeport Bluefish Stadium, a memorial to James O’Rourke shows the baseball pioneer making that first hit with the National League. Inscriptions around the memorial tell O’Rourke’s history with baseball; on its north face, O’Rourke’s most endearing quote is inscribed, reading, “Baseball is for all creeds and nationalities.”
Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses are the last two houses built by freed African American Slaves. Free African-Americans founded a community in the city. When the railroad from New York to Bridgeport was completed the sisters purchased adjoining lots and constructed these homes. Mary was known as one of the wealthiest women in Bridgeport. They were the also the sisters of Joel Freeman a prominent African American who helped his community gain a foothold in the South-end of Bridgeport, Ct. also known as " Little Liberia" or "Ethiope".
Commissioned by local leaders in 2015, this statue in front of the Margaret E. Morton Government Center commemorates the life and work of inventor Lewis Howard Latimer who invented and patented the carbon filament used in many of the most important inventions at the turn of the century. The son of runaway slaves, Latimer was a draftsman worked closely with other inventors such as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell to design innovations that led to the telephone and incandescent lighting. Latimer came to Bridgeport in 1880 to take a job with Hiram Maxim at U.S. Electric Lighting Company. He later worked for Edison Lighting Company and General Electric in New York City.