Bridgeport is Connecticut's largest city and leading manufacturing center. It is located on Long Island Sound about 60 miles (97 km) from both New York City and Hartford. The Pequonnock River broadens into Bridgeport Harbor as it meets the Sound.
Bridgeport was settled by English colonists in 1639 on land bought from the Pequonnock Indians. The city's name was chosen in 1800 for the first drawbridge over the Pequonnock River. It was incorporated as a town in 1821 and as a city in 1836.
During the early 1800s, Bridgeport was a center of shipping, ship-building, and whaling. Growth into an industrial center occured rapidly after the arrival of the railroad in the 1840s. Elias Howe invented the sewing machine here in the 1840s. Other major industries have included Remington Arms and General Electric. Circus impresario P.T. Barnum was a leader in the city's development in the late 19th century.
Despite its industrial heritage, Bridgeport is known as the Park City for its several large parks, including two designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It is also home to numerous cultural and educational institutions and is the seat of Fairfield County.