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Photos of coastal Connecticut, the most unequal urban area in the U.S.

Greenwich and Bridgeport are only 30 minutes apart on the Connecticut highway that joins them, but the chasm between them is huge. In a country considered the most unequal of major industrialized nations, Joanna Slater writes, these two cities provide a glimpse into just how extreme the wealth divide can be

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To travel the chasm between rich and poor in the United States takes about 30 minutes, or the drive between Greenwich and Bridgeport. By the numbers, this slice of coastal Connecticut is the most unequal urban area in the country, boasting a degree of income inequality that resembles Thailand or Bolivia.

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In Bridgeport, 35 per cent of households earned less than $25,000 a year and just 2 per cent earned more than $200,000.

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In Greenwich, the picture is nearly the opposite: 35 per cent of families earned more than $200,000 a year, while 9.8 per cent earned less than $25,000.

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The disparities also reflect the still-considerable economic gaps between races in the U.S.: the residents of Greenwich are predominantly white, while the majority of Bridgeport’s population identifies as black or Hispanic.

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Greenwich, a town of 62,000 residents where the median household income is $134,000. The main shopping thoroughfare is home to Hermès, Tiffany, Saks Fifth Avenue and an Apple store.

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Along a side street, there is a boutique called Splurge. On another major avenue is a series of car showrooms: Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, Maserati.

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It’s a place long associated with the barons of the financial industry, whether in banking, insurance, or, more recently, hedge funds.

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A mansion in nearby Fairfield, Conn.

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Another mansion in nearby Fairfield, Conn.

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A nearby forest preserve is excellent for walking or horseback riding, a local real estate agent boasts.

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In Bridgeport, nearly 40 per cent of children live in poverty.

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According to a report from the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, 99 per cent of the students in the city’s public schools are what it terms “economically disadvantaged” – or come from families earning less than 185 per cent of the poverty level.

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Bridgeport was once a thriving manufacturing hub, home to factories making sewing machines, electrical components, trucks and turbines.

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Now, the manufacturers have nearly all fled, decimating Bridgeport’s tax base. In recent years, efforts to rejuvenate the dilapidated downtown area have gained some traction.

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East Main Street in Bridgeport, Conn.

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A pawn shop on East Main Street Bridgeport, Conn.

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A Thrift Store in Bridgeport, Conn.

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