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Seeds of the future in icons of the past

Seeds of the future in icons of the past
Hugh Bailey
Saturday, December 6, 2014
CT Post

An hour after leaving picturesque Port Jefferson, N.Y., the ferry across Long Island Sound begins its approach to the postindustrial wasteland of Bridgeport Harbor.

To one side are the empty lots and abandoned piers of the city's forgotten shipping industry. On the other is a coal-fired power plant, a relic that's the last of its kind in Connecticut, its signature red-and-white smokestack reaching high into the skyline. From every direction, by train, car or boat, this symbol of industrial days gone by is the first sign that Bridgeport is on the horizon.

Protesters over the years have called for Harbor Station's closure, and its useful days are likely limited. The future is bleak for coal plants.

But symbols are powerful things. It might not be what Bridgeport would choose, but the candy-striped smokestack is as close as the city has to an Empire State Building or Eiffel Tower. It's an image of industry, but also one of pollution and retrograde solutions.

It could be a symbol of a brighter future.

The Route 8 corridor in Connecticut, with Bridgeport at its base, is defined by its industrial past. Waterbury and Torrington, Ansonia and Thomaston, Derby and Winsted: These are towns and cities largely left out of the wealth that now characterizes Connecticut.

Their history is in manufacturing -- copper, brass, munitions, textiles, rubber and dozens of other products that Americans still need, but are now largely produced abroad. The industrial leftovers remain, hulking on the banks of rivers and crumbling on roadsides. Click here for more information.

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