Hidden Gems of Bridgeport.
By Eileen Walsh
I have been thinking about our city and all its many attractions and how many go under appreciated. I thought I would put together a list of some things that I enjoy that I think a lot of people might pass by without knowing what they are missing. This is not to detract from the many fabulous better-known gems that our crown is rich in. Hope y’all will add to the list. In no particular order:
This art gallery and performance space at the innovation center on Connecticut Ave. hosts coffee houses, poetry slams, one man plays interactive art exhibits, and more. I have been their twice and have twice had my mind completely blown. Lyrical Voices poetry groups’ poetry literally seeps from their pores, no awkward silences here, these artists bellow, scream and hurl, their words at you. The one-man play by Iyaba Ibo Mandingo was raw and heartfelt. It gives a glimpse at the baggage carried by so any immigrants and African American men in America today.
Gerald Moore and Robin Jopp have been working on marketing on facebook and by email but It still takes being in the know to know what goes on when here. This place is worth the trip.
Bereket Turkish restaurant
Tucked away behind the Bereket Gas station convinience store and last minute bill paying establishment is a Middle Eastern Mecca. What its outdoor seating lacks in ambience will be more that made up for with the well cooked and nicely presented Turkish delight you will soon have in front of you. In summer months much of the grilled vegetables gracing your plate will be fresh out of the chefs garden.
The jewel in the crown of Bridgeport may not seem unknown but often under appreciated. A walk through its over two-mile stretch on any half way decent day is an experience in the American dream in action. The park is a masterfully designed stretch providing fabulous views of Long island sound. The ferry passes by, cormorants dive for meals, seagulls drop shellfish on the rocky coast. A walk or run is a stress melting pleasure. On a given day you may pass by a game of cricket being gentiley played in dress whites. Fast pitch softball, baseball, and lots of soccer games. There are two volleyball courts that are often in use. All of the multicultural splendor that Bridgeport boasts is here in its finery, Muslim women and men enjoy fishing by the cannon. The Asian community is heavily represented enjoying the shore. Hispanic families picnic all along your way. I’ve seen baptisms in the sound, teenage boys strutting their stuff in soaped-up Hondas and Toyotas with base systems that will co-opt your very heartbeat. Old cars, new cars, motorcycles of every variety and the odd Vespa too.
One thing I have never encountered at Seaside Park is a sour disposition. In this place all are aware of the gift the city fathers have given us. Smiles are always returned dogs are welcomed (leashed) and fish stories fly. Take a walk one Tuesday night and you will be treated to all the right things we have going for us in this city.
Keith Rodgersons Thursday night festivals
Thursday night on Baldwin Plaza downtown Keith puts together an eclectic mix of music, art, poetry, circus acts, exhibitionists and projected images. Some weeks it’s a small tight nit group others it seems to be the sweet spot in the city, Bring you own beer (it’s Legal) or have a beer at Two Boots listen to some surf music and enjoy two events in one night. There is nothing like this event anywhere else period. This week will host the more well known Bridgeport treasure Saint Bernadette.
The summer is nearing an end but Keith claims he will keep up his fests until October. Keith has become the cities underground PT Barnum. If you are not going you are missing out. Gets going about 7 pm
St Margaret’s Shrine an oasis on Park Avenue, St Margaret’s is a unique peaceful place to say a prayer, appreciate a unique art form, light a candle or have a little picnic. Weather you are catholic or just appreciate a spot designed for quiet reflection its an urban oasis with ponds waterfalls bridges and sweet vignettes.
Artists, hundreds of them
The city is ripe with artistic talent. Our cheap industrial space had made for a bubbling cauldron of creativity, not just locally showing artists we have several nationally showing artists and artisans working here along side us. Keeping up with the art scene here can take some work but you will not be disappointed for the effort.
La Poblanita Restaurant
Main Street by the old Walbaulms supermarket. A clean spot with well presented sophisticated and authentic Mexican food and music. Often music that is louder than my taste but the food, seafood soup, Huaraches more than makes up for it. Saturdays mariachis stroll.
A Brazilian Mecca on Frank Street in the Hollow is like a trip to Sao Paulo. Served by the pound the grilled meat and amazing hot and cold salad bar are the best Brazilian in the city for my money. Watch Brazilian Soaps, football, and if you are lucky live music.
Brad Durells Arts and local reporting for the Bridgeport News.
The bigger papers have forgone the local stories for stories that have appeal to a much wider market but the Bridgeport news covers the local events that make the city interesting. The weekly paper scoops the post regularly on stories of true local interest. Brad it seems is at every event, old school pad in hand getting the stories that others are seeming not to care about covering.
Beardsley park (outside the Zoo)
Another Fredric Law Olmsted design in our city boasts gently weeping willow trees. bucolic picnic spots and more baseball fields. Route 25/8 connector did not do the park any favors but it still works as a good place to while away an afternoons. Oh, and the stray peacock may pass by.
Housatonic Community College and its amazing permanent art collection and gallery space.
I just discovered this myself, just strolling the halls is like a trip to a top notch museum. Its art where it should be in and among the people of our town everyday.