"East Side, West Side, All around the town."*
The city of Bridgeport has a North End, a West End, and a South End, but for the two eastern sections of the city there are two distinctly named areas: the East Side, and the East End. How did this come about?
Here are some thoughts from our members concerning the various boundaries of the East End, East Side, and others areas of Bridgeport.
The city limit of Bridgeport originally ended at the Pequonnock River (the river next to the old train station). As more homes and businesses were built on the east side of the river, that area became known as East Bridgeport. When East Bridgeport became part of the city of Bridgeport, it was referred to as the East Side of the River, or shortened to just the East Side. Ultimately, as the whole of Bridgeport continued to expand outward to the north, west, and even further east beyond Yellow Mill Pond, the term "END" was added to identify those new areas, for example, the North End of the city, the South End, the West End, and the East End of the city, but the East Side continued to be called just that, the East Side.
From Member Robert Brooks (Harding Class of '62):
My brother-in-law's explanation: It's a matter of natural boundaries. Once you are East of the river that is immediately east of the RR Station, you are said to be in the East Side of Bridgeport. Continuing east, once you cross the next river, where the Stanley Steel Works used to be, you are said to be in the East End. Once you come to where Stratford and Connecticut Avenues meet, by St. Michael's Cemetery, you are said to be in Stratford. I believe that there is a North Side and a North End. Once you are north of North Avenue, as it intersects all of Main Street, Madison and Park Avenues, et al, you are said to be in the North Side of Bridgeport. Once you pass that intersection, on Main Street, just north of the Merritt Theatre, where Beechmont, Tesiny and Jewett Avenues converge with Main Street and along a line extending the length of Jewett Avenue through Madison and Park Avenues, you are said to be in the North End of Bridgeport. Beyond Old Towne Road, that's Trumbull. South of RR Avenue and Park, that's the South End. There's no South Side, you're running into water. Bounded, generally by RR Avenue, Wordin Avenue, and State Street as it intersects with Fairfield Avenue and Cedar Creek, that's the West End of Bridgeport and the pie shape that diverges between Faifield Avenue and State Street Extension, begins Black Rock. And the pie shape that diverges, north and east between Fairfield Avenue and State Street up to say Maplewood or Beechwood Avenues, out to about Park Avenue, that's the West Side. As I remember it.
From Member Donald Browne (Harding Class of '62):
Unlike the majority of states, which are comprised of "counties", Connecticut is a state comprised of "towns". Yes, I know CT has "counties", but they mainly serve as jurisdictional boundaries for the "towns". I actually have a CT map somewhere that lists all the "towns" as the basic "legal entity" of the state. I guess this goes back to "colonial" days. Other states that were original "colonies" also have curious anomalies; for example: VA and MD have cities that are not within a county, and counties without any cities in them.
Concerning the City of Bridgeport, whose original eastern boundary ("limit") ended at the Pequonnock River, the Town of Bridgeport contained the City of Bridgeport, and continued past the east side and east end to the "town boundary", Johnson's Creek and Bruce's Creek (generally), where the Town of Stratford began.
Connecticut "towns" were originally governed by an elective office, The First Selectman, and police powers resided in a Justice Court, the magistrate called "Justice of the Peace". The "peace officers" of the court were Constables (like the English common law from which they were derived).
From Member Michael Kamenitsky (Harding Class of '65):
I don't know why I came to think this, but I always thought that the railroad tracks marked where the east end began. Everything south of the tracks on the east side is the east end. I always knew where the east side was in the city, but I always looked at the east side from a north to south point of view. And so the end of the east side was the east end, with the geographical end of the east end being long island sound. Ii have a feeling that I am the only one who thought that way.
* Sidewalks of New York
Lyrics: James W. Blake and Charles E. Lawlor
Music: James W. Blake and Charles E. Lawlor
The song was originally written in the 1890's, and was used as a Presidential campaign theme in the 1920's.
East Side, West Side, all around the town
The kids sang "ring around rosie", "London Bridge is falling down"
Boys and girls together, me and Mamie O'Rourke
We tripped the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York
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