The New York Times Chronicles Bridgeport’s ‘Diamond-In-Rough’ Reinvention, City Rebounding

Steelpointe Harbor, Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

In the journalism engagement of my early 20s, 40 years ago, I wrote curiously for the Connecticut section of The New York Times, Bridgeport my main meanderings.

I pitched things to editors, via hardline phone, often offbeat: a beauty pageant in Bridgeport (no way); the feds tried to sting the police chief and it did not go well (I want it); the mayor’s wearing a bulletproof vest (get out of town!).

I was broke and needed the moolah, plus not a bad way to get your name out there. Conventional reporting would not cut a payday. They wanted something different. Good grief, it was annoying learning The Times writing style, a “Mr. Mrs. Ms.”, or whatever, fronting a second-reference name. I barely graduated high school, my comprehension fished in the shallows, and now I must absorb a stylistic handbook? Argh. Survival skills come in handy.

(Believe it or not, I also freelanced concurrently for the New York Post. I beg you to read The Times and Post on the same day and understand my schizophrenia.)

The city’s evolved from 40 years ago. Connecticut’s most populous city has undergone a transformation of sorts since that time, a tough old factory town rooted in Yankee ingenuity and immigrant brawn.

Generally, Bridgeport’s a place for outside reporters to regurgitate scribe laziness, often fanned by cynical, internal haters seeking power, pissed off because a city job rejected, horrified a development proposal flushed into the sewage treatment plant.

Many don’t put the work in to uncover the gleam among the gloom.

Lo and behold, now comes C.J. Hughes, who writes about real estate for The New York Times, recognizing a city rebounding, with evidence to back it up. Of course, then there’s this Ganim land baron nugget.

(Full disclosure: I may be violating The Times Fair Use policy, but worth the risk of litigation.)

From Hughes
Even gritty areas appear to be on the mend, although the process is happening in fits and starts. Apartments, breweries and antiques shops have popped up in some of the industrial hulks. Long-empty lots that resemble prairies are being eyed as sites for housing. And a two-year-old concert venue known as the Amp has added bounce to the city’s nightlife.

… In the last five years, more than 1,500 apartments have been completed, are under construction or planned, in new and converted buildings that are mostly downtown, according to the Bridgeport Building Department. A three-building complex next to Interstate 95, in a former gramophone record factory on Cherry Street and Howard Avenue that had been abandoned for decades, is completed and occupied, with 174 apartments, market-rate and affordable.

… At a 104-unit brick complex at Main and Golden Hill Streets, called 1188 Lofts, the lights are now on in what had been boarded-up windows. Market-rate studios there start at $1,630 a month, and one-bedrooms at $1,865.

“We’ve been sort of a diamond in the rough, but we’re getting discovered,” said John Guedes, the president of Primrose Companies, a developer about to cut a ribbon on a former Holiday Inn at 1070 Main Street going from 267 rooms to 94 apartments. Units will come furnished with the hotel’s furniture, and one-bedrooms will start at $2,500 a month.

Mr. Guedes is also constructing a 92-unit building at 1269 Main, a $22 million project, and is planning to add 112 units to an office building at 855 Main. “You can’t just have affordable housing in these downtowns,” he said, “because nobody will spend money at night and they will become ghost towns.”

… Boldly offbeat community radio station WPKN entertains at all hours, while Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock bustles at night. In January, Park City Music Hall hosted a Van Halen tribute band and an act called Beatniks Organ Trio. Total Mortgage Arena offers hockey games and concerts, and the Amp next door–officially, the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater, a 5,700-seat conversion of a former baseball stadium–hosts bands.

Full story here.



  1. Basically a free ad for Joe’s house in Black Rock, which he somehow bought for a song and now wants to flip for a 300% payday. And a main source is a key Ganim staffer. Somehow this all goes unmentioned in the NYT. Good story otherwise.

  2. Any Bridgeport taxpayer — paying ridiculous taxes for meager services and at-risk public safety conditions — knows that this NYT piece was politically engineered as a partnership with the highest-level, Connecticut government and D-Party officials and their D-Party-loving editorial compadres at the Times… A “transformed” Bridgeport gives a big boost to Ned’s policy cred, even as it plays into Biden’s claims/cred regarding a “transformed” American economy and an urban-friendly Administration (as we head into a Presidential/Congressional election season in 2024). Joe Ganim, alone, couldn’t move the Times to commission such a propaganda piece as has been cited and excerpted y Lennie in this OIB segment.

    Truly, it is a great disservice to the people of Bridgeport for the Times to do such a “fluff”/”whitewash” piece based on a handful of unproductive, taxpayer-financed/subsidized show-piece developments located on a background of smokestacks and our desert, razed, industrial past. The Times doesn’t talk about our decimated, deficient police department, understaffed, poorly-performing schools, or the fact most of our “development” consists of the creation of new non-profits and expanded existing capacity to serve an increasingly dysfunctional, impoverished population… And again, it must be emphasized that our private, for-profit development is taxpayer financed, heavily taxpayer subsidized, and otherwise highly unproductive…

    All-in-all, the Times has demeaned itself by this politically-motivated propaganda piece. This type propaganda is the type of tool used to maintain the status quo in Third World, authoritarian regimes… BAD SHOW!! on the part of the New York Times…

    I recall a piece about Bridgeport done several years ago by NBC in which their visitation of Bridgeport was driven by a search for “poverty” in the Bridgeport environs that took them to the East Side/East End where they were going to focus on the historic epicenter of poverty in Bridgeport that was Father Panic Village… Well, of course, FPV had been razed and replaced by new, attractive, government subsidized housing — on a background of Bridgeport’s industrial wasteland… The conclusion of NBC was, essentially, that there was no poverty in Bridgeport, because it looked pretty good… Well; the smoke and mirrors and illusion of rebirth created by City in partnership with the State and Feds worked well with the “journalists” that did that piece on Bridgeport. Indeed that piece would appear to have been a deliberate scheme to discredit activists involved in the exposure of the huge income-education gap between Bridgeport and its suburbs at the time (circa 2014)… Of course, nothing had changed in regard to the latter in Bridgeport before or after that NBC documentary on Bridgeport… The Times has picked up where NBC left off in 2014…

    It’s amazing how things always look so good in Bridgeport just in time for big election seasons…


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