July 13: Legislator P.T. Barnum Speaks While His Museum Burns

  On this day in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent.  Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz…

July 12: Buckminster Fuller’s Car of the Future

  R. Buckminster Fuller, the inventor, architect, author, and futurist best known for his popularization of the geodesic dome, was one of the most prolific public intellectuals of the early 20th century. In the early 1930s, Fuller coined the word “Dymaxion” — a portmanteau of the words “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “tension” — and applied it…

July 7: The Burning of Fairfield

  Throughout the duration of the Revolutionary War, Connecticut citizens lived in fear of devastating British raids on shoreline communities. In the eyes of the British, Connecticut was a nest of rebel activity, home to a government that ardently supported the Patriot cause and scores of residents who smuggled, spied, and fought against the King’s…

May 30: 12,000 Bridgeport Workers Mobilize to Support Striking Trolleymen

  On this day in 1922, Bridgeport’s Central Labor Union issued a formal call to all of its 12,000 members to support the striking trolleymen who worked for the Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company, triggering months of labor unrest in one of Connecticut’s largest cities. The Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company was the primary operator…

April 5: P.T. Barnum Elected Mayor of Bridgeport – Not His Greatest Show

Today in 1875, Phineas T. Barnum was elected Mayor of Bridgeport at the age of 64.  Though internationally acclaimed as an entertainment impresario and well respected as a politician at the state level, Barnum’s short mayoral tenure  was not the greatest showing for a man still remembered as one of America’s most successful entertainers, entrepreneurs,…

April 3: The Sewing Machine Patent Wars

  Inventor and longtime Connecticut resident Elias Howe Jr. may not have invented the first sewing machine, but he was the first person to obtain a U.S. patent for one in 1846.  Howe’s success in patenting his novel “lockstitch” sewing machine, which was the first to feature the automatic thread feed that remains a crucial…

March 19: A Fallen Star Rises Again

  When 32-year-old Joseph Ganim became mayor of Bridgeport in 1991, he had the distinction of being the youngest mayor in the city’s history.  At the time, there were few politicians who even wanted the job, as Connecticut’s largest city had just filed for bankruptcy and was the only municipality in the state to have…

February 10: “General Tom Thumb” Marries “The Queen of Beauty”

  Born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, legendary entertainer Charles Sherwood Stratton, a.k.a. “Tom Thumb,” began touring with the internationally famous showman and fellow Connectican P. T. Barnum at the tender age of five.  Stratton had first attracted Barnum’s attention because of his unusually small size — Stratton was a dwarf who never grew taller…

January 23: A Pie in the Sky Idea Takes Off.

In 1871, a Civil War veteran and baker by the name of William Russell Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, later building a large factory on the city’s east side to accommodate the growing demand for his pastries.  Little did he know that one day, several decades in the future, his name…

December 23: Bridgeport Patron James Beardsley Mortally Wounded

  In 1812, James Walker Beardsley was born to a prominent cattle farming family in Monroe, Connecticut, and remained a farmer for his entire life, splitting his time between his family’s Monroe farm and a second residence in the then-bustling city of Bridgeport. In addition to farming, Beardsley also dabbled in speculation and trading cattle…

December 19: A Stitch in Time Pays Off for Connecticut Inventor

  While the Industrial Revolution forever changed the way Americans manufactured, bought, and sold everyday goods, fewer inventions had a larger impact on home life for American families than the sewing machine.  While there had been several experimental and industrial models of sewing machines in existence since the earliest years of the 19th century, smaller…