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 the planting machine, his father invented a window shade roller and his cousin invented the 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 see 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.