Remember When: Bridgeport was a factory town

Published on July 25, 2012 by

It’s sad to say, but the factories of the past are indeed gone. If we travel through some parts of Bridgeport, it is evident that factories — now abandoned — are part of our great city’s history.

Where do we place the blame? Was it politics, high taxes, economics, a better deal elsewhere, not enough skilled labor, the unions? Whatever forced their closings, these once-thriving manufacturing plants have left an imprint upon our fine city.

It wasn’t just a loss of taxes as the factories closed that hurt Bridgeport but a loss to our sense of community. This city once had a large manufacturing sector. Jobs were plentiful and times were good. Many factories operated three shifts, and factory workers worked overtime.

The economy had a bright outlook — not like the grim outlook that we face today. Many laborers here were machinists. That is all they did for a living. They were skilled professionals and in great demand by companies. Numerous products were made here, from automobiles to soap. Then gradually, but surely, we lost the manufacturing plants one by one.

The factories started closing and jobs began to disappear, causing our economy to falter. All this history certainly has contributed to our city’s current economic situation. The changes may have been gradual, but the impact left its mark.

Many of these buildings still stand today as evidence of days gone forever. Many are boarded up, or the main gates are chained up. These places stand in ruins like those of a former war zone. Who could ever imagine companies such as General Electric, Bridgeport Brass, Carpenter Steel, Remington Arms, Remington Rand, Overland Fabrics and Underwood would one day close their doors?

This wasn’t something people thought about as they reported to work on a daily basis. No one expected the manufacturing downturn. But eventually the good times were gone and the local economy took an unrepairable hit.

While we talk about today’s bleak economy, we also should ask — Why did we allow this abandonment? Perhaps some of it could have been prevented by using better business practices and ethics. But now it’s too late for the factories of the past. They are gone forever and never again will our city be known for its manufacturing. All that is left are the old buildings and lots of memories of days gone by.

Write to Richard Sattanni is a freelance writer and novelist who lives in Bridgeport. Write to him at rsauthor00@gmail.com

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