Memorial Day Parade in Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1923-1929
This film is from the period between the World Wars. The World War I manufacturing boom further expanded Bridgeport’s already well established status as a significant industrial center in the Northeast and strongly associated the city with the munitions industry, aviation, and war-related production. During this period, thousands of men and women, including African Americans from the rural south and immigrants from Europe came to Bridgeport to work in factories like Remington Arms. Many domestic service organizations and the Red Cross trained people to knit socks for the troops and administer first aid; war bonds were heavily advertised and sold. But Bridgeport did not just support the war effort on the home front. Like other American cities with a large blue-collar labor force, Bridgeport also sent many of its own into service during the war. Thus by the end of World War I, the city’s economic and social identity had become inextricably linked with the new role of the United States as an industrial powerhouse and an emerging world power
Like many American cities whose economies were once heavily based in manufacturing, Bridgeport has seen many changes in recent decades. It’s once vibrant downtown was packed with businesses of all sorts from department stores and law offices to banks, restaurants, and specialty shops. For commerce, social activities, and major events such as the Memorial Day parade, the city drew visitors from the less densely populated surrounding towns by all modes of transportation, including train, trolley, ferry, and auto. This film of downtown Bridgeport in the 1920’s serves as testimony to a different time in the life of a city that is now undertaking a “revitalization” of that same downtown.