Bridgeport is a slum. Settled between the historic rule of Al Morreno’s Canton and the ancient enforcement of the sea, Bridgeport has always been an outlier. It’s the city of misfits, and maybe that’s what has made it such a perfect backdrop for our favourite baddies.
Between you and me, I’ve always thought of the place as a bit of a cesspool, but at the very least, it’s our cesspool. Bridgeport is as much a city of dreams as it is nightmares, and this week, I wanted to take a closer look at the sights that often get overlooked in the heat of the moment.
A Tarnished History
It was supposed to be the pride of the town. The idea of a new police department was first brought forward by a man named Gerald Strife in 1960, an investor born and raised in the southern slums of Bridgeport City. The story was, he was inspired to donate his wealth in the name of his father, a member of the police force back in the ‘30s. For those willing to look a little closer, Gerald’s sticky-fingered legacy had been written along the very walls of Bridgeport— and maybe that explained the pushback. When Geralt had first raised the issue, City Hall had never seen much of a reason to improve the conditions for degenerates.
The original police department overlooked the westernmost parts of the city— in an area we’d now know as Bridgeport U. At the time, it was the perfect distance between the city and the docks but by its end in 1968, the structure had become outdated. For a man to freeze to death in its cells, for another to be beaten beyond repair, wasn’t uncommon. Sitting outside of town, the old BPD had once been thought of as untouchable. It wasn’t until a fire in the late ‘70s that everything seemed to change.
The estimated number of deaths is 47, but historians believe the number to be closer to 98. No one looked for prostitutes, for vagrants, but maybe their death was for nothing. The fire that ate through lives in the basement-level cells and been the spark needed to start the funding for a new building, for a new hope. The deaths of the few would benefit the lives of the many, and by 1970, Gerald Strife’s dream was becoming a reality.
In Bridgeport, ghosts of the past were impossible to escape. Memories of the dead lurked in every corner, and with one tragedy after another, even a new location couldn’t save the soul of the Bridgeport PD. Located just four blocks south of Lady Justice and City Hall, the new BPD had never really stood a chance. Bricks of the past were salvaged to build a new future, and in front of it all, carved pillars guided the way.
The new building was made up of two wings— the holdings to the west and the offices to the east. Once you were past the entryway, a clear line separated good from evil. Though, in a place like Bridgeport, nothing had ever been so simple. Designers had hopes that the division would keep poison from the well, but spackle wasn’t strong enough to move the stars.
Destiny had already been written for Bridgeport, and an age of darkness settled over the city.
By 1980, the new BPD had become a ghost of its former self. Cold winters swept the city from 1975 through 1978, and by the time a new decade came along, the holding cell’s icy reputation mimicked its predecessor. Architects were determined not to live the mistakes of their past and this time, all cells were kept above ground— a distinction without a difference. In a place where drunks and demons roamed, no amount of money could melt frozen hearts. Light never seemed to reach the ones who needed it most, and when new funding came around, there always seemed to be something more important to fix.
Stay and Play
It took ten years for the star of Bridgeport to fall. Gerald Strife’s hope for the future would follow him to the grave, the founder dying from pneumonia before the building had officially opened. Days turned to decades within Bridgeport, and with millions invested, an entire city watched as their hope for the future became engulfed in the darkness of their past.
Eventually, I’m sure, the new BPD building will go like the last— sunk by the corrupt foundation of its inhabitants. The truth is, John’s control on a broken city is slipping. When Bridgeport finally comes to a new dawn, when a new dreamer steps forward, what the hell is going to be left?
Interested in seeing BPD in action? Check out my newest book Crooked, the tale of a dirty cop willing to do anything for his love, his life, and his city.
Did I Miss Anything?
Had a different vision of the police department? Let me know in a comment below, or, better yet, reach out on Facebook and Twitter!