Located in Fairfield County Connecticut, Bridgeport is the largest city by population in the state. Nicknamed the "Park City," it has a population of 139,008 (2005 U.S. Census) and is considered part of the labor market area for New York City. Bridgeport's initial economy was fueled by fishing and farming as were other towns in New England. Shipbuilding and whaling in the mid-19th century was supported by Black Rock Harbor and thrived after the opening of the railroad in 1840. Industrialization, by 1930, created a thriving economic center with over 500 factories staffed by mostly immigrant workers. Bridgeport soon was known throughout the world for the Bridgeport milling machine. Other goods produced were brass fittings, carriages, sewing machines, saddles, and ammunition. During the 1970s and 1980s, de-industrialization caused widespread unemployment, resulting in rising crime rates and a mass illegal drug problem. Former industrial sites were found to have extensive environmental damage that left the city in disarray.
Bridgeport leaders and citizens took the initiatives that have transformed the city into a center for service industry and is known as a "bedroom community" for scores of New York City employees, mainly because of its markedly lower cost of living. Bridgeport is another U.S. city identified as a viable area for urban renewal. More than 20 historic buildings are now in the process of being restored; of these are the Art Deco Citytrust Building, 19th Century Arcade Mall & Hotel, and several residential units and retail spaces by Urban Green Builders of New York City.
Other notable institutions and landmarks are the University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community College and attractions like the Barnum Museum, Discovery Museum and Planetarium, Housatonic Museum of Art and the Beardsley Zoo.
The Arena at Harbor Yard, the city's recent addition, sponsors local sports and houses the hospitality center. Easy access to New York City is provided by Amtrak and Metro-North commuter trains. The commute to New York jobs has established Bridgeport as an outpost of New York-based workers. Service is also available to Waterbury via Metro-North, and New Haven via Amtrak and Metro-North.