In the process of driving to Boston, I decided to take a break and pull over in Bridgeport, Connecticut to take a look around. I don't know much about Bridgeport, other than it's a former industrial city which lost a lot of its jobs and residents when the industries moved away. It's cities like this that often have a thriving street art and graffiti scene, so I decided to see what I could find.
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I pulled off I-95 near Park Avenue, and proceeded along the frontage road up near Myrtle Avenue. It was a somewhat desolate area, but I saw this big factory building with some graffiti, so I got out of my car to have a look.
There were a few things on this factory building that I zoomed in on with my camera (below), but figured that this was just a starting point and that I should move on, as I didn’t see much else in the immediate area. So I looked over a map to get a better sense of where “downtown” was, and got back in the car to drive around a little more.
I made my way up Lafayette Boulevard, turned right on John Street and then parked near the intersection of John and Broad Street. Being a Sunday afternoon, it was very quiet people-wise, but this area seemed like a better place to park the car and explore on foot.
As I walked north on Broad Street and approached Elm Street, I saw this seemingly abandoned building with the large "Corbit's Studio" painted on the side. It definitely had the look of something that had been painted in the 1920's or 1930's, and had probably not been touched up or repainted in at least 50 years. As I framed the shot on my camera, it reminded me of vintage street photography by Harry Callahan, which is a pretty good place to start if one is looking for inspiration.
In an attempt to get some history on what exactly "Corbit's Studio" used to be, I was able to dig up some interesting history. Lewis Corbit opened his first photography studio in 1907, and moved to this location in 1929, six months before the stock market crash. Corbit and his son, Lewis Corbit Jr., were responsible for documenting almost a century of Bridgeport history, with Lewis Jr. continuing to operate the business until his death in 1986. The picture below left shows the interior of "Corbit's Camera Shop, Where Camera Fans Meet" taken in 1934, with Lewis Jr. on the left and his brother Lawson to the right. Two examples of photography under the Corbit's Studio name are also shown, with the top picture showing a "Hoisting boiler on a vessel, probably Bridgeport, Connecticut, circa 1919" and rubberstamped on the back "From Corbit's Studio, Bridgeport Conn." The bottom picture shows a cactus garden beside a Bridgeport factory which was set up as part of the Bridgeport Centennial Exposition from May of 1936, with the "Corbit Studio" name written in the lower left corner.
But coming back to current-day Bridgeport and my exploration of it, I walked over to Main Street, where I started to see some large scale murals on storefronts, such as this example below right - which you can also see in the street view of Corbit's above left, the exact same mural is shown across the street and to the right.
As I looked down the street, I saw several more murals, and as I walked in that direction on a nearly empty street, a white pickup truck pulled up next to me. While I was aware of its presence, I just continued walking and taking pictures. But what happens next will have to be continued in the next post, which is coming soon ...