Recollections of Theaters from Bridgeport’s Past
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