Category Archives: General

Typewriters? Shorthand? How Times Have Changed

A recent gift to the Bridgeport Public Library Historical Collections was this small wooden ruler, only six inches in length. The ruler had the name “Gutchess College” engraved on the side, with the addess 46 to 54 Cannon Street.
What was Gutchess College?
The Bridgeport City directory for 1911 gives us the answer. S.D. Gutchess was the properietor of the Gutchess College at 46 Cannon Street. The ad in the 1911 city directory says that Stephen D. Gutchess took over as the properietor of the college from Brown’s Business College. Brown had started ihis school n 1896 teaching young men and women about the business trade.

Long before computers, instructors taught stenography, typewriting, telegraphy and bookkeeping. The school boasted that they filled “had 500 positions annually.” The 1911 city directory said that they had thirty typewriters at the school, and “up-to-date” instruction.
My how times have changed!

Submarines in Bridgeport

Inventor Simon Lake believed that the undersea world contained a vast wealth of natural treasures that were waiting to be tapped.

Besides the obvious riches of fish, Lake saw a world on which a great abundance of oil could be tapped from the sea as well.

Lake was always a dreamer, and he came from a family of inventors. His grandfather invented a seed planting machine, his father invented a window shade roller and his cousin invented a telephone.

Simon Lake even named his son after Thomas Edison. It was Lake’s dream after reading Jules Verne’s 1870 book, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” to invent a submarine. Lake launched America’s first successful submarine in 1897.

The Lake Torpedo Boat Company was located on Seaview Avenue in Bridgeport’s East End. Often, local residents would travel down to the Long Island Sound shore in Bridgeport to sea the latest submarine being launched. The events would attract huge crowds.

In 1918, Lake began to build R-21 submarines under government contract, joining in the World War I munitions activities with the rest of the local factories.

This photograph depicts the Lake Torpedo boatyard off Seaview Avenue in 1922. Pleasure Beach is visible in the background.