|Community Area 60 - Bridgeport|
The White Eagle Brewing Company in Bridgeport designed by John S. Flizikowski
Location within the city of Chicago
|• Total||2.10 sq mi (5.44 km2)|
|• Density||15,000/sq mi (5,900/km2)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|ZIP codes||parts of 60608, 60609 and 60616|
|Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services|
Bridgeport, one of 77 community areas of Chicago, is a neighborhood located on the city's South Side. It is bounded, generally, on the north by the South Branch of the Chicago River, on the west by Bubbly Creek (the river's South Fork), on the south by Pershing Road, and on the east by the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Neighboring community areas are the Lower West Side across the river to the north, McKinley Park to the west, New City to the south, and Armour Square to the east. Famous for being the historical center of the Cook County Democratic Party, Bridgeport was the home of five Chicago mayors. At times featured in the national spotlight for its racial intolerance, Bridgeport today ranks as one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods.
||This section includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2013)|
Historically, much of the neighborhood was initially an Irish-American enclave. In the 1830s, large numbers of immigrants from Ireland started settling in this working-class neighborhood. Many of the same Irish immigrants who helped build the Erie Canal later came to Chicago to work on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Because of inadequate funding for the project, the State of Illinois began issuing "Land Scrip" to the workers rather than paying them with money. A large number of those Irish-Americans who received the scrip used it to purchase canal-owned land at the northern end of the canal where it meets the south branch of the Chicago River. The original Bridgeport village, named "Hardscrabble," centered here on what is now the diagonal section of Throop Street on the northwest side of the Bridgeport community area. The area later became known as Bridgeport because of its proximity to a bridge on the Chicago River that was too low to allow safe passage for boats, so cargo had to be unloaded there. Finley Peter Dunne later wrote about this area in popular sketches around the turn of the 20th century. Dunne's protagonist, Mr. Dooley, lived on "Archey Road" (present day Archer Avenue, Chicago) in Bridgeport. Bridgeport is also home to many Italian-Americans, as is its smaller neighbor to the east, Armour Square.
Although the Irish are Bridgeport's oldest and arguably most famous ethnic group, Bridgeport has also been home to a large number of other groups. Many Lithuanian-Americans settled along Lituanica Avenue, which runs between 31st Street and 38th Place one block west of Halsted Street in what was once called "Lithuanian Downtown" and the center of Lithuanian settlement in Chicago. Today, there are also large numbers of first and second generation Mexican-Americans and Chinese-American who, like the Irish immigrants of the 19th century, have settled in the Bridgeport area due to its affordable housing and proximity to their work.
Bridgeport's Polish history is most visibly represented in its two churches in the Polish Cathedral style: St. Mary of Perpetual Help, and St. Barbara. The Art Institute of Chicago has done restoration work on the paintings in the Shrine Altars at St. Mary of Perpetual Help which date back to 1890, with further plans calling for restoration of the stained glass windows and to complete the painting of the interior ceilings and rotunda.
The Chinese influence in Bridgeport has also followed in the tradition of ethnic groups in the neighborhood establishing places of worship, with the Ling Shen Ching Tze (真佛宗美) Buddhist Temple on West 31st Street being established in 1992.
Bridgeport has been the home or birthplace of five mayors of Chicago, representing all but 10 years between 1933 and 2011, illustrating the neighborhood's influence on Chicago politics for most of the 20th century:
- Edward Joseph Kelly, mayor of Chicago from 1933 to 1947;
- Martin H. Kennelly, mayor of Chicago from 1947 to 1955;
- Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago from 1955 until his death in 1976;
- Michael A. Bilandic, initially appointed by City Council to finish Richard J. Daley's term as mayor, the former Bridgeport alderman won the special election in 1977 and served until 1979;
- Richard M. Daley, mayor of Chicago from 1989 until 2011, son of Richard J. Daley.
Kelly, Kennelly, the elder Daley, and Bilandic comprised an unbroken, 46 year period (1933-1979) in which Bridgeport was home to the city's mayor. Richard J. Daley is widely acknowledged as being the architect of the Chicago's 'machine politics' for a large part of the 20th Century. Daley's base was rooted largely in Bridgeport's working-class Irish population with the 11th Ward as his vanguard. The 11th Ward Democratic party, which is headquartered in Bridgeport near 36th Street and Halsted, still has a member of the Daley family in its administration, Committeeman John P. Daley. The Alderman for the 11th Ward is James Balcer, a long time supporter of Richard M. Daley who was originally appointed to his position by the mayor in 1997.
Primary and secondary schools
The Chicago Public School District operates several primary schools in Bridgeport, including Mark Sheridan Academy, Philip D. Armour School, Robert Healy School, Charles N. Holden School, and George B. McClellan School. Residents are zoned to Tilden High School in the New City community.
Parochial elementary schools in Bridgeport operating under supervision of the The Archdiocese of Chicago include Bridgeport Catholic Academy, Santa Lucia School, St. Jerome School, St. Mary School and St Barbara School.
In 2008 the Chicago Sun-Times listed Bridgeport as one of the four most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Chicago, alongside Albany Park, West Ridge, and Rogers Park. A traditionally working-class neighborhood, with a diverse ethnic heritage, Bridgeport's cultural history has left an indelible mark on Chicago cuisine. While pizza is well represented in Bridgeport, it is the breaded-steak sandwich served by most of the neighborhood's pizzerias, that the neighborhood can claim as an original. Chinese and Mexican fare are also well represented, particularly along 31st Street as well as Archer Avenue. Bridgeport in the early 21st century has also begun to experience an upswing in new restaurants, with a few recent additions serving items ranging from British-style pies to organic offerings.
The neighborhood is served by the Bridgeport News, a community newspaper delivered weekly on Wednesdays to homes throughout the neighborhood.
Other notable figures
- Paral, Rob. "Chicago Demographics Data". Retrieved 6 June 2012.
- Black, Lisa. "Army of volunteers gives Bridgeport school a makeover." Chicago Tribune. June 14, 2008.
- "Home". Charles N. Holden School. Retrieved November 15, 2008.
- "Geographic Information Systems". Chicago Public Schools. Retrieved November 15, 2008.
- "Daley Library". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved November 15, 2008.
- Paral, Rob. "Chicago Community Areas Historical Data". Chicago Community Areas Historical Data. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- City of Chicago Bridgeport Community Map
- Images Of America: Bridgeport (Arcadia Press)
- Bridgeport's History
||Lower West Side, Chicago|
|McKinley Park, Chicago||Armour Square, Chicago|
|New City, Chicago||Fuller Park, Chicago|