Greetings -- Grüßen -- Powitac´ -- Sveikinimai !
Benvenuto -- Bud vitán -- Dobro dosao -- Välkommen !
Welcome to the Bridgeport history home page. The Languages above are those that have been part of the Bridgeport scene at one time or another; some of these languages are still know to Bridgeporters even today. Above all, Bridgeport has been an ethnic neighborhood. Sure, it is well known for the mayors and politicians that grew up here. But when those -- mostly Irish -- political heavyweights were youngsters walking the streets of Bridgeport, you can bet that they knew a Pole, or a Lithuanian, or an Italian, or one of the other ethnics of the place. Bridgeport was truly a neighborhood of neighborhoods -- not a single urban village, but a collection of them. Bridgeport has a long history. It got its start when the Illinois & Michigan Canal construction got underway in 1836. Times were a bit different then. Journey back with us to have a brief look. And a brief look is all that we will be able to take: the history of Bridgeport even predates the beginnings of the canal. It is quite literally one of the oldest localities in northern Illinois of note; although to read the original notes, you'd have to know French. The history of Bridgeport is quite rich; much of it has yet to be rediscovered.
This sketch of Bridgeport history is organized into five topics -- The early history, transportation history, economic history, ethnic history, and political history. Did we forget the social history? Not at all; with the five categories already outlined, a high degree of interrelation (or overlap) should be apparent. We've encountered this in our studies of the area. For this reason and because we wanted each section to be able to stand alone, certain important elements are discussed in more than one section. For example, ethnic shops are discussed in both the ethnic and economic chapters, but with a different emphasis. The five topics are set into the chapters outlined in the list below. Click on an icon or a title to access them. (For faster, simpler content-oriented access, reference the paragraph below the list.)
On a more technical note, this WWW site contains a lot of pictures, and they are for the most part in JPEG format (which are compressed to save on file space). These take a longer time to download on modems than GIF formats do. You should have a browser equivalent to at least Netscape 2.0 in order to view tables. This site is also content heavy. For printing purposes (and for text-based browsers), the five chapters have non-graphic counterparts that can be accessed from the quick index of contents here.