BY Richard A. Sattanni, 06/05/18
The city of Bridgeport collectively has many historic sights. The Harbor area of the Black Rock section has quite a history. This part of the city is the home of the Black Rock harbor light with quite a historical background. The harbor light traces back to the early 1700’s. Years ago The Black Rock area was part of what we know today as Fairfield Connecticut. Today of course it is part of our fair city Bridgeport.
Fair-weather Island as it is known title consisted of seven acres of land. The year 1807 brought about a real change. Our federal government then purchased 9 and 1/2 acres of the island from a Daniel-Fair-weather establishing the Light station.
The very first Lighthouse known as The Black harbor Light was built by Arisa Woodward. This went full operation by 1808.Years later this Lighthouse was destroyed by a ravaging storm in 1821. BY 1823 a new tower replaced the damaged property .This was in operation until 1933.This then was duly replaced by two offshore Lights. The Lighthouse adds itself to Bridgeport’s Seaside Park as a historic district attraction.
This unique Lighthouse was given over to Bridgeport in 1934 and duly became part of what’s known as Seaside Park. But over the years vandals had destroyed some of the internal structure. Also in 1977 the keepers building was destroyed by fire. The tower was restored later in 1983.This moved the Lighthouse to become a nature preserve.
Over the years a number of keepers looked after the Lighthouse. The last keeper was Charles H. Gilmore. He was on duty from 1933-1952. Throughout the years many keepers kept the tower in operations.
Throughout the years many renovations took place so as to preserve the ancient Lighthouse. Even though not in use now it stands today as a symbolic tribute to the cities’ history. Bridgeport’s Black Rock harbor was a trade center in the earlier times and today is truly a landmark many years later.
Golden Memories of the City
By Richard Sattanni
I have many fond memories growing up here in Bridgeport. I was born and raised in the city’s Hollow Section. Life was pretty simple then – not complex like it is today. Somehow we’ve become a different type of society. Most of all I remember my former neighborhood. The ethnic groups were quite diversified but yet no prejudice existed. People respected each other regardless of race, color, or religious beliefs. There was a special bond among us. Everyone contributed something to the life blood of the neighborhood. (more…)
Theaters of the past, especially, in Bridgeport are indeed gone –virtually disappeared. No longer is Main Street bright with the marquees that once held our attention. Downtown Bridgeport has changed dramatically.
I can remember so vividly the Loew’s Poli with the headliner letters announcing the latest flick from Hollywood. The Palace, as it was known, was only a couple of doors down from its sister theater, the Majestic. Back then we were indeed a theatrical community.
Across the street, the Lyric and Strand theaters stood. Not far from them, the Globe for our entertainment, as well. If we walked a few blocks to Fairfield Avenue, we would find the Rivoli Theater. I remember well seeing western movies on the big screen. The Rivoli always played at least two movies, plus cartoons and a news update. For an inexpensive night of fun and entertainment, people attended the Rivoli. I still can smell the popcorn as you entered the lobby. You could have a great night out for well under a dollar.
Not far from the Rivoli, the Warner Brothers at State Street and Lafayette Boulevard also always had great movies at a decent price. The building was where Housatonic Community College stands today.
Located north on Main Street at one time was the Merritt Theater which unfortunately is gone now, too. A smaller theater near Main and Charles Streets, called the Rialto, gave viewers a night out, reasonably priced. The exact location was directly across from the Colony Diner which is still at its original location even today.
Several other theaters that are honorable mention are the former Highway, the Beverly, the Astor, the Hippodrome, and, of course, the Barnum on Barnum Avenue. All of these wonderful centers of fine entertainment have disappeared through the years.
Bridgeport still has theaters most of which are housed in a major complex. What we were used to has dramatically changed. Now we have more choices all under one roof –similar to a shopping center, in a sense.
The days of simplicity now have become more complex. As time progresses perhaps cable television will become more competitive or film rentals will take away business from the big conglomerates. Only time will tell.
Historically, people have to be entertained. Everyone has their favorite stars and types of films they enjoy. But looking back to the golden years of the movie industry, one thing is for sure: the forms of entertainment we seek will continue for change.
No one truly remembers the pioneers who paved the way to big screen entertainment that brought joy to the beholder. Thinking about that time period I can truthfully say I’m glad I had the good fortune to take those memories and hold them dear to my heart.
By Richard Sattanni
By Richard Sattanni 10/29/18
Join me now as we literally take a trip back in time and share some history of Seaside Park. Yes, our own Seaside Park offers more than swimming, fishing, and boating.
The very first part of our trip begins at the entrance way as we enter Park Avenue’s entrance. The Perry Memorial Arch greets us as it stands majestically awaiting our passage. This arch was dedicated to William H. Perry at a cost of seventy five thousand dollars in the year 1918. This is only our first stop along the way as we enter the 325 acre park some of which once belonged to P. T. Barnum. The park was one of several properties belonging to Mr. Barnum.
At just about the center of the park sits a statue of the most famous showman P.T. Barnum. The huge bronze statue depicts him very cleverly; it seems he’s just eternally viewing the massive sound from his seated position.
As we move further, we come across another statue. This is one of the great sewing machine inventor, Elias Howe. This statue overshadows another view of the ocean. Not far from Mr. Howe’s statue stands yet another one which is that of Christopher Columbus. Again, this big statue seems to be standing attentively as though it too were viewing the mighty ocean. These statues mentioned are a must see for anyone, especially a history buff.
Later on as our trip progresses we will come upon that of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. This was erected in memory of and honor of those who died in the Civil War. The statue was erected August 29th, 1866, but dedicated August 17th, in 1876. Again, Seaside shares part of its history with us as we view this beautiful monument.
As we leave the park our last stop is at Main Street and Park Place. This is where the Bergh Statue stands. This was constructed in 1897. This was built in the house of Henry Bergh, an advocate for the prevention of cruelty to animals and a horse adorns the structure in remembrance.
Just adjacent to the Bergh Statue during the fifties and into some of the later years were a few restaurants. The street along that area was lined with the Buglight Restaurant, the Seawall, and, of course, Homas’. The younger generation always filled the parking lots with their hot rods while they enjoyed the burgers, sodas, shakes, hotdogs, etc. I remember this well as a teenager. This area was always our last stop after cruising through Seaside Park with our radios playing loudly with the music known then as Rock and Roll.
There is so much history at Seaside Park. What was once Barnum’s backyard has indeed brought wonderful memories back for me and I hope for you, as well. Whether you are a history buff or not it’s a self-guided tour. So take a drive, a stroll perhaps, or even a bus and enjoy some of Bridgeport’s past. I am sure you will be glad you did.
A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH ST. VINCENT’S
Looking at the history of St. Vincent’s takes us back to the year 1903. At the corner of Main Street and Hawley Avenue, then the last stop on a Bridgeport trolley line, a piece of farmland became the sight of what we know today as St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Recognizing the need for a medical facility, a priest from St. Patrick’s Church in Bridgeport had ventured to Maryland to seek the help of the Sisters of Mercy. With their assistance secured, the dream of a hospital became a reality. A new facility was erected for $250,000 to serve the needs of the community.
As time progressed, a nurses training facility was started at St. Vincent’s. The year was 1905. This undertaking took the field of medicine a step further in patient care. The training and medical procedures were totally different back then. The nuns supervised many of the basic daily operations. As the years passed the needs of the community increased dramatically. By 1920, a new wing was planned at St. Vincent’s Hospital. Once that was built, medicine and medical technology at St. Vincent’s took on a whole new meaning. When the 1950’s arrived more demands were placed on the facility. Around that time the use of x-ray machines and other new technologies were developed and put into use. Patients benefited from the modern medicine, equipment and care,
Still more changes came as the 1970’s arrived. A new medical center was built behind the former one on Main Street. A new name was put into place as the health care institution’s name was changed to St. Vincent’s Medical Center. In the 1950’s, many new surgical procedures were put into place. Patient heart care, for example provided for better chances of survival for those with cardiac needs. T
Today St. Vincent’s ranks in the top 100 hospitals in heart care in the United States. The facility has truly become a health care leader in the 21st century. As we look back at the last century that St. Vincent’s has served our community we certainly can appreciate the hard work, compassion and dedication of the hospitals’ former and present staff. I’d like to extend my personal thanks for past and present St. Vincent’s employees, without your dreams, aspirations, dedication and passion our community would never had benefited so much as it has. St. Vincent’s and Bridgeport Hospital provide care on a 24/7 basis every day of the week. They give the city a more positive image. We as a community should be grateful that what was once a dream is now a reality.