P. T. Barnum apartments are often referred to as PT Barnum housing projects. PT, as referred to by the residents and former residents is a place that has been called home for many of Bridgeport's current citizens as well as citizens of dozens of cities throughout the United States.
It is heartbreaking to know that persons who did not grow up in public housing think of the PT Barnum Housing Projects as place of abject poverty and crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. Were I to say that there was no crime in PT would be a lie, but for people to believe that crime is all that existed there is a mockery to the humanity of those precious souls that proudly called PT Barnum in Bridgeport home.
This website is an effort to show the brighter side of PT. The site was first designed to spark interest in a reunion. It grew into much more as former residents wanted to see glimpses to the yesterday they knew. So they sent pictures and memories and ideas of making the website not only pleasant to us, but also informative to those who never took a walk through PT. In this website, you will see signs of poverty, but above all, you will see the love and happy faces of a group of people that called PT home.
P. T. Barnum Apartments were built in 1950. The name of the apartments was taken from Bridgeport's most famous citizen, Phineaus Taylor Barnum. The middle name of PT Barnum was used as the address of PT as Taylor Drive. The Barnum Museum on Main Street in Bridgeport sustains a memory of the great showman.
When the apartment buildings were ready to be occupied, the federal government set income guidelines to ensure that the Apartments would only be available to families with low income. The income guidelines were so low that it was difficult filling the Apartments. One group of people met the guidelines but at that time, new apartments weren't available to blacks. However, there was no other alternative, the federal government had to fill the apartments.
PT is still occupied today, but gone is the PT that the residents of the 50s and 60s knew. Gone are the majority of the residents during that time. However, the spirit of the people that were residents of PT has never died. Our spirits lay dormant until awakened in 1994 with the call to gather and enjoy each other's friendship and love in memory of the West End Youth Center. The first reunion woke us up but the sluggishness from hibernation needed to be stimulated. The stimulation motivated us to gather again in 1999. The memories of our youth screamed out to be rekindled as we gathered at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport and let the good times roll.
In 1994 we honored the charismatic director or the West End Youth , Bill Koener. The Youth Center operated in PT Barnum during the 60's and early 70's. Pastor Allaby was also in attendance at the reunion. Appreciation was expressed to Pastor Allaby for the support shown by the church for the founding and funding of the Youth Center. To this day, there is a fondness in the hearts of everyone that was a part of the West End Youth Center.
At our 1999 PT Reunion we honored those who were there for us in our childhood (Al Booker, Izzy Reaves, Walter Luckett Sr. and Pecan Edwards). We also honored one of PT's hardest working young man, Cecil Young. We listened and danced to the music provided by David Daniels, we had Jami Ayinde (Jerry Johnson) and Mr. Davis remind us of our roots with the rhythmic sounds of their drums and we had our hearts and souls touched as Garry Geter closed with his rendition of Sam Cooke's "A change gonna come." There were well over 350 at the reunion.
At our 2002 PT Reunion we honored Stanley Arrington, Ernie Parker, Darryl Avery, Charlie Tisdale and Jettie Tisdale, Sandra Dunn and Mrs. Morey. We were again entertained by Garry Geter Jami (Jerry Johnson) Ayinde and DJ David Daniels. There were 500 in attendance at the reunion
There hasn't been a banquet at the Holiday Inn in quite a few years. We are starting to discuss whether or not we should start the banquet again.