OIB will release this week results of a public opinion poll gauging the mid point of Bill Finch’s mayoralty.
We have partnered with Merriman River Associates www.merrimanriver.com a seasoned election management services group for private organizations and political consultants for public candidates and campaigns.
We are surveying Democrats that voted in the 2007 municipal election when Finch attracted an overwhelming Democratic vote. A variety of potential challengers and elected officials were measured against Finch both individually and as a group.
We expect the survey to be completed within the next day or so. Lots of stuff coming later this week.
We’ve done a little teasing here with my friends at the Connecticut Post who declared Virginia Avenue in the North End, as part of their reporting on the state’s proposed location for a juvenile detention center for girls.
Keila Torres, a mighty fine reporter, wrote a clarification on this last week following several reader protests. What’s the big deal? Well, Bridgeporters are territorial about their neighborhoods, and why not? Neighborhoods are the cultural and political foundation of the city.
Some of the best political fights occurred because this one was from the North End and that one from the Upper East Side. The late North End political powerhouse Richard Pinto hated pols from the Upper East Side. West End pols were the poor neighbors of those high-brow know-it-alls from Black Rock. And for some, it’s still the same.
For my geographic taste the Upper East Side (note my upper U for Upper) is that area generally north of Boston Avenue and east of the Pequonnock River up to the Trumbull and Stratford lines. Basically, we’re talking the Beardsley Park area.
So all of this neighborhood configuration chatter got me thinking (always problematic for me) what genius can give OIB readers a tour of city neighborhoods. For me it’s city historian, architectural historian, story-teller extraordinaire Charles Brilvitch.
If there’s buried treasure to unearth in Bridgeport, Charlie can tell you where to dig. He’d be the guy with pick in hand telling you be careful. Remington buried explosives in these parts after World War I.
So I contacted CB the other day for a quick neighborhood tour. Pull up a cup of java and take note of Charlie here:
My version of Bridgeport’s neighborhoods is based on my own historic research into traditions going back many years.
The East End is that part of the city to the east of Yellow Mill Pond and Old Mill Creek, the territory annexed from Stratford in 1889. It is subdivided into Newfield (south of Stratford Avenue and west of Blackman’s Creek [the arm of Johnson’s Creek that adjoins Central Avenue]); East End Proper (north of Stratford Avenue and east of Blackman’s Creek up to the railroad tracks); Old Mill Hill (north of the railroad tracks to Granfield Avenue/Stewart Street); and Success (north of Granfield/Stewart and including much of Remington Woods), which is an Indian name in use since the 17th century.
The East Side, known in the 1800s as East Bridgeport, is the area between Yellow Mill Pond/Old Mill Creek and the Pequonnock River. In the old days the portion south of the railroad tracks was Newpasture Point (another name of pre-Revolutionary origin), and the area north of the tracks up to Boston Avenue (developed by Barnum & Noble beginning in 1850) was Pembroke City, ‘Pembroke’ being a corruption of ‘Pann Brook,’ after the Pann family of Indians (also goes back to 17th-century deeds).
From Boston Avenue north to Beardsley Park and the intersection of Huntington Turnpike and East Main Street was laid out in the first years of the 20th century as Beardsley Park Slope, a calculated reference to the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, at that time the ritziest place to live in America. And the territory from the Huntington/East Main intersection north to the Trumbull line was known for generations as Briarwood, after the 325-acre farm of the Thompson family (anyone who has been inside Remington Woods will understand the appropriateness of the name!) In recent decades real estate agents have pretty much succeeded in changing the name of this area to Treeland. Collectively, these last two neighborhoods comprise the Upper East Side.
The South End is that entire section of the city south of State Street and East of Went Field (no, Connecticut Post, Lewis Street is NOT in the West End!!). Since the filling in of the salt marsh and tidal flats to the west of Barnum Dyke after 1919, Fayerweather Island was more-or-less annexed to the South End from Black Rock. The exclusive residential district south of Atlantic Street (now the UB campus) was long known as Marina Park to distinguish itself from the more plebeian blocks to the north. And the blocks around the intersection of Main and Whiting Streets was once a village of free people of color called in its early days (1821-47) Ethiope, and, later (1847-late 1800s) Liberia. It was never, ever (prior to about 1980) called “Little” Liberia!!
The area now known collectively as The Hollow is an amalgamation of several historic communities. Golden Hill was the well-to-do neighborhood (largely obliterated by highway construction and later development) that occupied the hill to the west of Pequonnock and Congress Streets. Sterling Hill was a 19th-century Irish settlement on the north and east slopes (named not for the cheaper metal but for its progenitor, Daniel H. Sterling). The area north of Harral Avenue to North Avenue, the Hollow Proper of our day, was known in the 19th century by the bucolic name of Golden Valley. And from Madison Avenue west to the Pequonnock River is a section still known as Bull’s Head, after a tavern of that name that stood at the corner of Main and Frank Streets that was a favorite stop of cattle drovers from Monroe and Newtown in the 1790s.
Like the East End, the West End was annexed from a neighboring town, in this case Fairfield, in 1870. It occupies that entire chunk of the city between Park Avenue and the Rooster River, except for Black Rock and the aforetomentioned portion of the South End. Traditionally, the part to the east of Clinton Avenue was known as the West Side, while to the west of it was the West End Proper. The neighborhood bounded by North, Laurel, Capitol, and Park Avenues (and up to the present Central High School) was laid out as another elite development beginning in 1914 and was called Beach’s Woods, site of the Beach family’s farm that dated back to the 1700s. The part to the south of the railroad tracks and turnpike, reclaimed from salt marsh in the 1880s and ’90s and demolished in the 1960s, was called Hunktown.
‘Brooklawn’ was, historically, entirely within the bounds of Fairfield (laid out as an expensive estate district ‘to be the finest between New York and Boston’ [weren’t they all] in 1892). A chunk of Stratfield Road through Bridgeport was renamed Brooklawn Avenue as part of the development scheme, but a street name doth not a neighborhood make (think of Trumbull Avenue, to cite just one example). The name crept stealthily over the Bridgeport line a number of years back, and real estate salespeople have been advancing its boundaries eastward year by year to the point where now anything west of Lincoln Boulevard appears to qualify. Pretty soon I’LL be living in ‘Brooklawn’ over here by the Stratford line! Old-time Bridgeporters regard this spurious Fairfieldization with contempt.
Black Rock is Black Rock and everybody seems to know where it begins and ends. Its boundaries were even more distinct prior to the 1940s, when the land that now contains the P.T. Barnum Project was a saltwater inlet known as Burr Creek. The fancy enclave at the tip of the peninsula was generally known as Grover’s Hill until 1926, when the Black Rock Land & Improvement Company felt that St. Mary’s by-the-Sea had a better ring to it.
Island Brook is an easy-to-overlook area located to the south of North Avenue between the Pequonnock River and Housatonic Avenue. Beginning in 1786 it was the site of a village built around a grist mill that was known as Berkshire.
Last but not least is the North End, which, contrary to all appearances, was not annexed from the Town of Trumbull. It is bounded by Park and North Avenues, the Trumbull town line, and the Pequonnock River. Starting on the east, the hill that is bisected by Sylvan Avenue was known to previous generations as Rocky Hill. Real estate developers of the 1940s and ’50s promoted it as Sylvan Crest. To the west, the next hill over, bisected by Reservoir Avenue and westerly to Island Brook, was known from the old days as Chopsey Hill (after ‘John Pork Chop,’ an Indian who occupied a Golden Hill reservation where Trumbull Gardens is now located). During Prohibition it was still quite rural, and building lots could be procured for as little as $75. After a number of raids on illicit operations the Bridgeport Herald dubbed it “Whiskey Hill.”
The hill to the west, extending from Island Brook to the vicinity of Wayne Street (with Summit Street appropriately at its summit), has no name in common parlance today. In the 18th and 19th century it was known as Cow Hill, an apparent mate to Ox Hill located along Main Street above Anton. To the south of Cow Hill, from Salem Street down to North Avenue and west to Beachwood Park, is an area known to every Italian-American grandparent as the Old North End. Two more hills define the North End, Toilsome Hill (approximately bounded by Wayne Street, Park and Capitol Avenues and “Rooster River Boulevard’ [another pet peeve–the stream that adjoins this is Horse Tavern Brook, NOT the Rooster River!]); and Chestnut Hill (north of Toilsome Hill to the Trumbull line). And completing our circle is Lake Forest (a late-1930s development of the Hydraulic Company’s outmoded Island Brook Reservoir, which dates back to 1866), and Charcoal Pond (where the city’s drinking water was once filtered).
News release from GOP City Council candidates
A FIGHT FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT
The Republican Candidates in the 130th District (Black Rock and the West End)
Election Day ’09 is a week and a half away and the Republican Candidates for City Council in the 130th District (Black Rock and the West End), are looking forward to it. Who are they? They’re John Weldon and John Slater and they want to make a difference in the way things are done in City Government.
We hear it election after election from the same group of people – “We’re gonna lower taxes”. But look at your own bottom line. Look at your tax bills over the last few years. Have they gone down? No, they haven’t. Increased and frivolous spending makes our taxes go up. It’s time to stop it before none of us can afford to live here anymore.
Who Is John Weldon? John Weldon is 38 years old. He was born in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport and has lived in the neighborhood his entire life. Weldon was educated through the Bridgeport Public School System, attending schools in all corners of the Park City–Black Rock School, Longfellow School, High Horizons Magnet School and Central High School. After graduating from Central, Weldon went to U.B., taking up a major in Finance & Banking.
His interests drifted toward being involved with the public and, since 1992, he has been employed with Greater Bridgeport Transit, where he is Manager of Customer Relations & Service Development. In that role, Weldon deals with a diverse group of people, communicating with them and hearing and helping them with their everyday concerns on a daily basis. Because of this background, Weldon knows the city like the back of his hand. He knows the diverse people who live here, especially those from the Black Rock and West End neighborhoods.
Because of his involvement and interest in mass transit, Weldon started a company called Hoverflight Corp. to establish high speed ferry service in Bridgeport. A lot of people have talked about doing that but, in 2006, Weldon put his money where his mouth is and purchased a 50-passenger hovercraft to establish high speed service. Now, with vessel in hand, he is pursuing investment capital to commence the service. Weldon believes in Bridgeport and doesn’t just talk the talk–he walks the walk–and he wants to use his dedication and hard work for the benefit of the people of Black Rock and the West End and for the future of the Park City–the city he loves. To learn more about John Weldon and the kinds of things he wants to do, visit www.VoteWeldon.com. Or, feel free to shoot him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Is John Slater? John Slater is 27 years old. He was also born in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport and has also lived in the neighborhood his entire life. After his Dad passing when he was 17, Slater had to help out when he graduated Notre Dame High School and went straight to work. Working hard in various retail establishments, Slater began a career in banking with Fairfield County Bank, where he is a Customer Service Representative in the Trumbull Center office. Not one to just settle, Slater began attending Housatonic Community College. At HCC, Slater is the editor of the College’s Student Newspaper, “Horizons”. He will graduate with a degree in Journalism & Communications in May.
Because of his experience in having to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, Slater is not afraid to take on the Machine, ask the tough questions and push for answers. He wants to be a voice of change and work to help his neighbors and fellow city residents.
Feel free to visit John Slater’s Facebook page or drop him a line at email@example.com.
What John Weldon & John Slater want to do in a Nutshell: John Weldon & John Slater want to make Black Rock, the West End, and the whole city, a better place to live. They want to start that by engaging the people of Black Rock and the West End. They want to meet and listen to them and see what issues concern them. The 130th District is, perhaps, the most diverse district in the City–economically, socially, racially and ethnically. And with such a diverse group of people comes a diverse set of issues that are important to them. What is important to the homeowners in the part of Black Rock near St. Mary’s by the Sea is not necessarily what is important to the homeowners and renters who live in the part near BJ’s and the movie theaters, or to those in the area around P. T. Barnum Apts. and Twin Towers or the people of the area surrounded by Howard Ave. and Mountain Grove. They’re all different. But none of the issues important to one individual group of people are any more or less important than those that are important to another. They’re all of equal importance and they all need to be listened to and addressed. Funny thing is, though, they rarely, if ever, have been. Weldon & Slater want to change that and hear what everybody has to say and see what they can do to help them. Why? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT A PUBLIC SERVANT IS SUPPOSED TO DO–serve the public–ALL the public, not just certain ones or their own self interest.
The same rhetoric keeps being said and things keep being done the same way, year after year after year, by the same group of people–but nothing gets any better. Well, it’s time for something different. On November 3rd, vote the Top Line for something different and elect John Weldon and John Slater your representatives in the City Council.
News release from Mayor Finch
City to Recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Oct. 25-31
Lead paint comes with a lifetime guarantee. It’ll do damage for generations.
Today, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet an estimated 250,000 U.S. children have elevated blood-lead levels.
To promote the reduction of lead poisoning, Mayor Bill Finch will join the nationwide recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week from October 25 through October 31, 2009.
“Preventing lead poisoning is one of the most important things we can do to help keep our children safe,” said Mayor Finch. “The City’s Lead Free Families Program, in partnership with Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust are working together to warn renters and homeowners of the dangers of lead-based paint, and helping to create lead-safe units where families can be assured their children won’t be exposed to lead-based products.”
Through funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City of Bridgeport’s Lead Free Families Program (BLFF) and Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust’s Lead Elimination Action Program (LEAP) are creating hundreds of lead-safe units. Both initiatives have implemented intervention and prevention programs to reduce the lead hazards for low-income families.
Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust Executive Director Elizabeth Torres says, “We have a critical responsibility to create healthy communities. The City has an abundance of older housing stock with low-income families renting them. While this may be a recipe for lead poisoning, our program plans to reduce that potential dramatically.”
The most common way children are lead poisoned is from exposure to lead paint, which is frequently found in homes built before 1978. According to state statistics, housing stock in Connecticut is a risk factor since 84% of it was built before 1980 and 35% was built before 1950. In fact, the average age of construction of housing stock in target neighborhoods in Bridgeport is 1948.
Disturbing lead paint, which most often occurs when property owners renovate their buildings, allows dust to settle on toys, window sills and floors. Children can then easily swallow bits of dust and paint chips. Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body and often occurs with no obvious symptoms. The only way to test for lead poisoning is by asking your health care provider for a blood test.
The City of Bridgeport’s BLFF program and BNT’s LEAP program are collaborating with other partners that include the City of Bridgeport’s Health Department Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, the Social Services Department, the Bridgeport Burroughs Library, Fairfield University’s School of Nursing-Health Promotion Center and Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc.
As part of the Mayor’s efforts to raise public awareness about lead poisoning, a series of events are scheduled to recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week:
Tuesday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a Health and Safety fair will take place on the 2nd floor of the Health Department at 752. E. Main Street. Screenings will be provided, information on lead safe methods for property owners and contractors will be available, as well as Child ID and other resource materials.
Wednesday, October 28, from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Burroughs-Saden Library,
2:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Screenings by the Health Department’s Lead Prevention Unit
6:00 to 6:30 p.m. – Halloween Parade
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. – Education and outreach
Thursday, October 29th, 2009 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Action for Bridgeport Community Development, Inc., 1070 Park Avenue. Event includes arts and crafts, screenings, face painting and puppet making activities geared toward parents and their children. A local contractor will be available to talk about lead prevention techniques. Mayor Finch will stop by at 11:30 a.m.
For more information about the BLFF program, contact Sabine Kuczo at (203) 576-8220 or Milta Feliciano at (203) 576-7483.
For information about BNT’s LEAP program, call Tammy Talton at (203) 332-7977.