Friday, February 09, 2007

We Have No Bananas

The New London Banana Company Building is a thing of memory. Everyone knows that Bridgeport, Conn is the banana port of the northeast. All of New England's and New York's bananas come through the port of Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city.

The north side of middle Bank Street escaped redevelopment's wrecking ball for thirty years longer than the south side. The New London Banana Company hasn't traded fruit for decades, but its sign hung on the front of the building long after the business was defunct. It was a reminder that honest trades were once practiced downtown, that New London's economy was fueled by more than whaling, law, medicine and the anemic tourist trade.

All the bricks between the Carlos' Building and Candy's Cozy Kitchen have been dismantled by bulldozers. There are empty lots on the north side of middle Bank Street. Condominiums are slated to be built in this empty space. "New York Style" condominiums. You can still buy bananas in New London. They are trucked directly from Bridgeport to the Pezzello Brothers' warehouse on Jefferson Avenue. The Pezzello Brothers supply much of the produce to New London's vegetable aisles, restaurant kitchens and delis. In Darwinian New London, survival of the fittest is the rule. The Pezzello Bros. diversified, while the banana people focused on a niche.

New London is a niche on the globe, but it rewards those who can meet its needs cheapest and best. Does anybody want to buy a condo? We need citizens more than we need bananas.

It is natural for New London to aspire to be like Manhattan. The two places are similar in everything but scale.

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