Presidents in Bridgeport
600 Coffee Break Chat Nov. 14, 2014
Last month Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch remarked
on Obama’s visit and the mayor said “We’ve
hosted 100 or so Presidential visits in
Bridgeport’s history, and we’ll host 100 more,
God willing.” Well, it hasn’t been that many,
but surprisingly Bridgeport is a popular stop
for American presidents especially around
16 American Presidents have visited Bridgeport
for a total of 31 separate visits – from George
Washington to Barack Obama. 8 were Republicans, 7 were Democrats and one was an independent – George
Washington. Here is a quick run-down. For some
of these visits there are available details, for
others we just have the date.
1. George Washington: If
you were wondering why there are so many “George
Washington Slept Here” signs on old New England
buildings, it’s because he made a tour along the
Post Road from New York to Boston in 1789 during
his first year as president, and it is
documented that he went through Bridgeport as
1 A. Although there
is no documentation that I could find that
Presidents John Adams nor John Quincy Adams came
to Bridgeport, the fact that they had homes in
Boston might indicate that they might have also
traveled the Post Road through Bridgeport from
Washington to Boston sometime in the late 1700’s
to early 1800’s.
In March 1860 before he became president in
1861, Abraham Lincoln spoke in the auditorium at
McLevy Hall. The largest room in the city was
packed, and a crowd formed outside. He gave a 2
hour impassioned speech against slavery. Lincoln
received a standing ovation before taking the
evening train back to Manhattan. A plaque on the
building marks the event. While in Bridgeport he
ate at a home of a Republican constituent on
Washington Avenue and it is said that there he
had his first taste of New England fried
3. Theodore Roosevelt: In
1902, Roosevelt traveled through New England on
a long tour. He stopped in Bridgeport and spoke
to a crowd of 30,000 and he spoke out against
the powerful trusts, trade with Cuba, taxes, and
the Philippine rebellion.
He also came to Bridgeport in June 1905.
He visited after he was president in Nov.
1916 campaigning for presidential candidate
Charles Hughes and spoke before a crowd of
5,000. He also blasted Woodrow Wilson and the
Democrats in his speech. There is also
documentation that he was here in 1919 and 1921
3 A. Mrs. Warren G. Harding
Although there is no evidence that President
Warren G. Harding visited Bridgeport, his widow
did come here for the dedication of Harding High
School in 1925.
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a speech in
Bridgeport in Sept. 1932 when he was Governor of
New York and running for president. He was also
here in Oct. 1936 as president and gave a speech
talking about the Bridgeport Centennial and the
prosperity of Bridgeport as the arsenal of
democracy. He was here again in 1940 and 1944.
His wife Eleanor came to Bridgeport several
times and spoke at Klein Auditorium
1936 Bridgeport speech
1944 Bridgeport speech
5. Harry S. Truman:
President Truman came to Bridgeport during his presidency in
1948; and came here again in Oct 1952 to rally
the Democratic vote in CT. His speech included references to the Bridgeport Locomobile and
Bridgeport’s Father Panik Village.
1948 Bridgeport speech
6. Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Dwight Eisenhower was in
Bridgeport during a campaign tour in Oct.
1952 right before he before president.
7. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was here in Nov. 1960 before a
crowd of 6,000 at the train station campaigning
for president. He said in his speech that said
CT was key state in the election and spoke on
what he would do if elected president and on the
war in Vietnam. He also came in
1962 as president.
8. Lyndon B. Johnson:
Lyndon Johnson came to Bridgeport in Oct. 1963
when he was Vice President, 1 month before the
assassination of President Kennedy.
Richard M. Nixon:
Richard Nixon makes a stop in Bridgeport
when he was Vice-President in 1956. He returned
to Bridgeport in Oct. 1960 during his campaign
tour against Kennedy. He also visited while
president in 1970 with wife Pat.
1960 Bridgeport speech
9 A. There
is some documentation that both Gerald Ford and
Jimmy Carter visited Bridgeport but I could not
find the dates in my research. Carter was here
a few times apparently.
Gerald R. Ford:
date unknown 11.
James Carter: multiple visits
12. Ronald Reagan: Ronald Reagan visited the General Electric plant in Bridgeport
in 1954 before he was President when he was a
spokesperson for GE. He returned to Bridgeport
as president in Oct. 1984.
13. George H.W. Bush:
Not in Bridgeport exactly - but George H.W. Bush
visited Sacred Heat University in 1981 to
receive an honorary degree.
14. William J. Clinton:
Clinton visited Bridgeport as president in Oct.
1994, and in March 1998 he returned to tour the
Early Childhood School at Housatonic Community
College and made a speech about early childhood
Bush: President George Bush was here
in April 2002 to talk about discussed
voluntarism and his plans to expand citizen
service programs in the U.S.
He returned in April 2006 and spoke at
the Playhouse on the Green before a group of
Connecticut business people about health care
reform and to promote health savings accounts.
He praised U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays and CT
Gov. Jodi Rell.
President Obama came to the Harbor Yard arena in
Oct 2010 and spoke before 9,000 people to gain
support for the campaigns of Democratic Governor
Dan Malloy. Richard Blumenthal for US Senate and
Congressman Jim Himes.
He returned of course on Nov. 2 of this
here and spoke to 1,900 people at Central High
School to once again gain support for Governor
Full video 2010 Bridgeport
Full video 2014 Bridgeport
Video of 2014 Presidential
- UPDATE -
17. Donald Trump
was in Bridgeport in the 1990’s. He wanted to build the Trump
Park City Plaza on the city’s Pleasure Beach with an amusement
park, shipping terminal, retail and residential space. That
never happened. Then he wanted to build a casino on property he
owned that is now the Arena at Harbor Yard. That deal fell
through of course. He came back to Bridgeport in April 2016 when
he held a campaign rally at the Klein Memorial Auditorium.