The Entrance to Beardsley Park, Bridgeport CT

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Greeting visitors to Beardsley Park is a statue of the man who donated the land to the city of Bridgeport, James Walker Beardsley.

Legend has it that Beardsley decided to give the land to the city after seeing an irate farmer tell children to leave a meadow where they were playing.

Trying to guarantee that future generations of Bridgeport children would have a place to play freely, Beardsley, also a farmer donated the land to the city in 1878.

Fredrick Law Olmstead, landscape architect of Central Park in New York City as well as Seaside Park, designed Beardsley Park.

Beardsley, using his agricultural background, advised park officials on the planting of trees and other shrubs and designed bridges and special roads.

Beardsley and his sister lived in a house near Beardsley Park. On Christmas Eve in 1892, intruders broke into Beardsley’s home and attacked the two, who were elderly.

James Beardsley died on New Year’s Day, 1893, at age 72, due to complications from the wounds inflicted by the thieves.

The bronze statue of James Beardsley was dedicated on June 19, 1909. The Bridgeport Board of Trade raised money for it by public subscription, appropriating $6,000. The statue was designed by Charles Henry Niehaus.

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About Author

Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.

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