Historical Tour of Bridgeport, the Park City
This driving tour includes stops at several museums, landmarks, and historical sites throughout the city of Bridgeport.
Klein Memorial Auditorium was completed in 1938 and has played host to notable historical figures throughout history. Sixteen American presidents have visited the Park City over the years, and several of these leaders have spoken at Klein Memorial. In addition, leading Americans such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the American Union Leader Jimmy Hoffa have addressed crowds at Klein Auditorium.
This Craftsman-style building was originally built in 1911 as a synagogue for Congregation B'nai Israel (CBI), a community of German Jews. The former Orthodox congregation organized during the 1850s, making it one of the oldest in Connecticut. For over 50 years, the congregation did not have a permanent, designated synagogue, however, and members worshiped in homes and workplaces. The 1911 construction of this Park Avenue synagogue provided a stable religious and community space.
The Housatonic Museum of Art (HMA) stands as one of the premier college art collections in the United States. Scattered throughout the Housatonic Community College Campus and located within the university’s Lafayette Hall, the free and permanent collections at this museum traverse centuries and art forms to enhance the cultural life of Bridgeport students and residents. While strolling through the campus hallways, visitors are greeted with 18th, 19th, and 20th century works of art, as well as ethnographic objects from Africa, the Americas, and Oceania. These collections are quite unique to the Housatonic campus, and permanent exhibitions remain on continuous display throughout the 300,000 square-foot facility. Within the permanent collection, visitors can view and interact over 4,000 works of art from various time periods, and some of the most famous artists featured at this museum include Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, Ansel Adams, Klimt, and many others. The Burt Chernow Gallery, named after the museum’s founder, offers rotating exhibitions every six weeks that feature national, regional, and even local artists as well as art shows.
Mclevy Hall is located in Downtown Bridgeport Connecticut, in the historic Golden Hill District.It is designed by Alexander Jackson Davis. It was formerly known as Bridgeport City Hall. It was renamed after Jasper Mclevy in 1966 the Mayor of Bridgeport from 1933-1954.It was the site where President Abraham Lincoln spoke.
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.
The Barnum Museum preserves and interprets the history of P.T. Barnum, an American showman and one of the founders of the iconic Barnum & Bailey Circus. Listed on the National Register of historic places and located in downtown Bridgeport, this three-story museum offers a variety of exhibits that share the history and mythology surrounding P.T. Barnum’s life and work. Visitors can browse a number of exhibits, including artifacts drawn from Barnum's personal collection and related to the history of the circus in the United States. The most popular feature offers a one-thousand square-foot miniature representation of a five-ring circus with 3,000 hand-crafted figurines. The museum is also home to several exhibits committed to preserving and illustrating Bridgeport’s industrial and social history. From the first floor’s gallery that ports visitors on a journey through Barnum’s multifaceted life to the third floor’s dedication to Barnum’s protégé, General Tom Thumb, the Barnum Museum takes museum-goers on a ride traversing Bridgeport’s history and the life and career of one of the most famous showmen in American history.
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".
Seaside Park is a historical location in Bridgeport, Ct. It was the original training ground of the 17th Regiment of the Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. The 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was designed by famous architects Calvert Vaux, and Fredrick Law Olmstead (designers of Central Park in New York City). Park of these 325-acres were donated by the famous P.T. Barnum and other contributors.