Meriden, Connecticut
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Meriden, Connecticut

Meriden, Connecticut
West Main Street, Meriden
West Main Street, Meriden
Official seal of Meriden, Connecticut
Seal
Nickname(s): 
The Silver City[1]
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°32?12?N 72°47?41?W / 41.53667°N 72.79472°W / 41.53667; -72.79472Coordinates: 41°32?12?N 72°47?41?W / 41.53667°N 72.79472°W / 41.53667; -72.79472
Country United States
U.S. state Connecticut
CountyNew Haven
Metropolitan areaNew Haven
Incorporated (town)1806
Incorporated (city)1867
Consolidated1922
Government
 o TypeCouncil-manager
 o City ManagerTomothy Coon
 o Council Leaders
Area
 o Total24.1 sq mi (62.5 km2)
 o Land23.8 sq mi (61.5 km2)
 o Water0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2)
Elevation
177 ft (54 m)
Population
 o Total60,868
 o Estimate 
(2018)[3]
59,540
 o Density2,500/sq mi (970/km2)
Time zoneUTC-05:00 (Eastern)
 o Summer (DST)UTC-04:00 (Eastern)
ZIP code
06450, 06451
Area code(s)203/475
FIPS code09-46450
GNIS feature ID0208834
AirportMeriden Markham Municipal Airport
Major highwaysI-91.svg I-691.svg Connecticut Highway 15.svg
Commuter RailAmtrak logo 2.svg Hartford Line logo.png
Websitewww.cityofmeriden.org

Meriden is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States, located halfway between the regional cities of New Haven and Hartford. In 2010, the population of the city was 60,868.[2]

History

Solomon Goffe House (1711), Meriden (2007)
Plaque commemorating Abraham Lincoln's visit to Meriden in 1860 in front of City Hall (2012)
Meriden Britannia Co. electro-gold and silverplating factory, 1881)
In the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection, a punch bowl (1895) made by the Meriden Cut Glass Company, a subsidiary of the Wilcox Silver Plate Co., that later became part of the International Silver Company.

18th century

Meriden was originally a part of the neighboring town of Wallingford. It was granted a separate meetinghouse in 1727, became a town in 1806 with over 1000 residents, and incorporated as a city in 1867 with just under 9000 residents. It was once proposed as the Connecticut state capital.[4] It was named for the village of Meriden, West Midlands, England, near Birmingham.

The oldest house in town still standing, built by Solomon Goffe in 1711, became a museum in 1986, the Solomon Goffe House.[4]

The grave of Winston Churchill's great-great-great maternal grandfather, Timothy Jerome, can be seen today at what is now called "Burying Ground 1720" (Google Maps: 41.522877, -72.787707) at the juncture of Dexter Avenue and Lydale Place. At the time the location was known as "Buckwheat Hill," and overlooked the salt-making estate for which Jerome had received a royal grant.[5] Timothy Jerome's son, Samuel, is the great-great grandfather of Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill's mother.[6][7]

19th century to WWII

Meriden in circa 1914

In the second half of the 1800s, Meriden became a manufacturing center of note, with several companies forming, or relocating to the city, involved in the production of mainly silver, lamps and metalware, glassware, guns, and musical instruments. A substantial number of design and technology patents were secured.[8]

Silver and cutlery

For silver, the numerous companies included the Meriden Britannia Company (a predecessor of the International Silver Company with corporate HQ in Meriden),[9] Meriden earned the nickname "Silver City", due to the large number of silver manufacturers, and the International Silver Co. continued production until the early 1980s. Along with the silver companies, other producers of cutlery included the Meriden Cutlery Co. and Miller Bros. Cutlery.[10]

In 1876, the Meriden Britannia Company made significant efforts at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and won the First Place medal for plated wares. According to the Sotheby's auction house, "The publicity of the award and the impression the firm made on the fair's 8 million visitors was continued by the catalogues and other intensive marketing; by the end of the 1870s Meriden Britannia Co. was considered the largest silverware company in the world."[11] A key design attributed to launching the company and the town's international name was the Buffalo Hunt with a smaller edition in the White House collection, Washington, DC. For some time the original Buffalo Hunt sculpture went missing, and in a shocking report by Bailey Wright in 2018, it was learned that it was recently 'missing' actually in Meriden.[12][13]

Lamps and metalware

For lamps and metalware, the companies with national and international markets included the Edward Miller & Co / Miller Company (1844-stopped manufacturing lighting c, 1980),[14] the Charles Parker Company, Handel Company,[15] and the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company (1852-1940), which also was widely known for producing metal-based products like decorative tables and andirons.

Glassware

For glassware, the companies included the C.F. Monroe Company (1892-1916).[16] and the Meriden Flint Glass Company (1876-92),[17][10]

Kitchen appliances and guns

Manning, Bowman & Co. (1849-1945) centered its production in Meriden, and into the early 20th century became a nationally-known producer of small electrical appliances and chrome ware. [18] Meriden was also the site of the production of Parker Brothers (guns), widely-known and traded by firearms enthusiasts. From 1905-18, the Meriden Firearms Co. manufactured small arms from 1905 to 1918. The stock was owned by Sears, Roebuck & Company.[4]

Musical instruments including player pianos

Internationally known companies Wilcox and White and the Aeolian Company were involved in the production of musical instruments north of the downtown area at Tremont and Cambridge Streets.[19] The Aeolian Company grew quickly forming production sites in other places and developed a music hall in New York. (The largest holder today of instruments and music rolls by the two companies is the Pianola Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.) [20]

Graphic arts innovation

Meriden also was an important site for graphic arts innovation. In 1888, the Meriden Gravure Company (in Meriden 1888-1989) was founded by Charles Parker and James F. Allen, and continued a previous printing operation by Parker. The company developed an expertise in high quality image reproduction, which initially was driven by the needs of the silver industry.[21]

With the wealth of entrepreneurs during this time, several mansions and houses of note were built, particularly on Broad Street.[22][4]

Of political and historical note, on March 7, 1860, Abraham Lincoln spoke in Meriden seeking the Republican presidential nomination.[23]

2012 photo of Isaac C. Lewis mansion (1868) at 189 East Main Street, Meriden. Since 1950, the building has been used for other purposes.[4] Since 2012 it is a mosque.
2015 photo of Meriden City Hall (1907) with Civil War monument in the foreground. This building replaced two previous designs (1869-89 and 1889-1904, the latter destroyed by fire).[4]

For public places, Hubbard Park in the Hanging Hills was financed by Walter Hubbard (of the Bradley & Hubbard company). The design for the park was originally conceived by Hubbard in consultation with the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, America's foremost landscape architect. In 1900, Castle Craig on a peak was dedicated in the park.[24] In 1903, the Curtis Memorial Library, across from Meriden's city hall, was opened.[4]

Hollywood connection (1937-50)

International Silver Company / 1847 Rogers Bros. (Meriden) silverware advertisement in Ladies' Home Journal (1948), with co-promotion of fashion and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet show.

From 1937 until 1947, the International Silver Company sponsored the Silver Theater, a national radio program broadcast via CBS in Hollywood. The radio program featured many Hollywood actors and actresses of the time like Jimmy Stewart and Rosalind Russell. Over 200 programs were produced.[25][26] In c. 1937-45, several Hollywood stars, including Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers and Barbara Stanwyck, endorsed the company's 1847 Rogers Bros. silverware in print advertisements in LIFE magazine.[27][28]

After World War II, in 1949/50, The Silver Theatre was brought to television and broadcast on CBS, also with the International Silver Company as the sponsor. Guest stars included Eva Gabor, Kim Hunter, and Burgess Meredith.[29][30]

Legacy of Meriden's grand manufacturing era

Design by Jean G. Theobald for Wilcox Silver Plate Co. / International Silver Company, Meriden, CT (1928).

A few thousand designs from this manufacturing era from Meriden are in museums and historical societies across the United States and into Europe, Australia and New Zealand.[10] Design objects from this era from Meriden have also been included in over 200 national and international exhibitions and expositions since the 1850s.[10] The 1930s tea urn by Eliel Saarinen for the Wilcox Silver Plate Co. / International Silver Company, Meriden, is the one design exhibited most and most published in design books as an international Modern design icon.[31][32]

Some comparatively recent examples of Meriden designs in exhibitions include In pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1986-87),[33] and more recently, Modernism in American Silver: 20th century design (2005-06) in Dallas, Miami Beach, and Washington, DC, which highlighted downtown Meriden and the area's role as an important center of Modernist silver production.[34] In 19th century Modern (2011-12) in Brooklyn, designs by the International Silver Company and the Napier Company, another Meriden manufacturer, were exhibited.[35] In November 2016-November 2017, the city's iconic Napier penguin cocktail shaker was in an exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art; the Napier penguin was the lead image of the show.[36]

In summer 2017 alone, historical Meriden area design was exhibited in museum shows in at least Dallas, Newark, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Museum in New York, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, The Netherlands, and the KunstHalle in Berlin, Germany.[31]

Design by Jean G. Theobald and Virginia Hamill for Wilcox Silver Plate Co. / International Silver Company, Meriden, CT (1928).
Handel Company, Meriden, lamp design (1900-30) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

With this level of attention, some special design objects from the era have become sought-after collectors items also at auction, sometimes due to their association with the commission or commissioner, or the status of the design, or being in the sought-after Modernism style. For example, a painted glass and metal table lamp by Bradley and Hubbard, (c. 1920) sold for US$14,950, doubling its estimate, at Christie's auction house in New York in 1999.[37] Later, a 14-inch, International Silver Company cocktail shaker (c. 1927) sold for US$21,600 tripling its estimate, at Christie's in New York in 2005.[38] A Parker gun made for a Russian czar before World War I, but never delivered, was reported to have been sold for US$287,500 in 2007.[4] In 2008, a rare Handel lamp sold for US$85,000.[39] On March 5-6, 2014 at Sotheby's in London, "Al Capone's cocktail shaker" made by the Meriden International Sterling Company (c. 1932) achieved over 33 times its estimate with a sale price of GBP50,000 (US$83,250 on the day).[40] Lastly, in 2014, at Sotheby's New York, a rare Paul Lobel-designed coffee service (c. 1934-35) produced by the Wilcox Silver Plate Co. / International Silver Company sold for US$377,000.[41]

WWII - 21st century

In 1939, Edwin Howard Armstrong, a network radio pioneer who invented FM radio, used West Peak in 1939 for the location of one of the first FM radio broadcasts. His original 70-foot-tall (21 m) radio mast still stands on the peak.[42] Currently West Peak is home to six FM broadcast stations, including WNPR,[43] WWYZ, WKSS, WDRC-FM, WMRQ-FM[44] and WHCN.

During World War II, factories in Meriden worked three shifts (24 hours/day). On March 8, 1944, the War Manpower Commission gave Meriden the designation as "National Ideal War Community", and Jimmy Durante and Glenn Miller entertained those at the ceremony.[4]

Victory Boogie Woogie
Piet Mondriaan Victory Boogie Woogie.jpg
ArtistPiet Mondrian
Year1942-44
MediumOil and paper on canvas
Dimensions127 cm × 127 cm (50 in × 50 in)
LocationGemeentemuseum, The Hague. Formerly owned by Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr. and Emily and Burton Tremaine / The Miller Company Collection of Abstract Art, Meriden, CT.

In addition to manufacturers that continued operations after World War II, starting in the later 1940s, the Miller Company, Burton Tremaine, Sr. and Emily Hall Tremaine firmly put Meriden on the international, 20th century art/design map. In December 1947, Meriden became known once again as a site of design innovation, now with Modern art, via the Miller Company Collection of Abstract Art and the organization of a Painting toward architecture exhibition which opened at Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum[45] and later travelled to venues in 27 venues across the United States (1947-52). Substantial national media coverage reported on the exhibition. Painting toward architecture is considered one of the important art exhibitions of the 20th century.[46] In the 1950s, the Miller Company Collection of Abstract Art was privatized to "Mr & Mrs Burton Tremaine, Meriden, CT" and numerous artworks were lent to hundreds of exhibitions nationally and internationally into the 1970s with this designation.[47]

Photo of the black-and-white Modernist facade of the Miller Company addition, designed by international architect Philip Johnson, built in 1965. Center Street, Meriden, CT. (The original design featured the Miller Company logo, which was influenced by Bauhaus design legend Josef Albers and Serge Chermayeff). Photo in 2015.

In 1965, the Miller Company addition on Center Street was completed. The black-and-white Modernist facade was designed by influential American architect Philip Johnson.[48][49]

On April 27, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned at city hall and the Latin American Society for the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.[50]

In 1987, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation was founded by the noted art collector that partly worked in Meriden, before her passing, with three focus areas: learning disabilities, the arts, and the environment.[51] The offices were located in downtown Meriden.[52] In c. 2010, the foundation offices were relocated to New Haven, near Yale University.[53]

Meriden was a location chosen for the filming of the 1989 film Jacknife directed by David Jones starring Robert De Niro, Ed Harris and Kathy Baker. De Niro played a Vietnam War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder adjusting to a return to American life. The film was adapted by the play, Strange Snow by Stephen Metcalfe, a native from the adjacent town of Cheshire, Connecticut. A number of Meriden locations can be seen in the film, including a historic house on Linsley Avenue, as well as film locations in the greater region.[54]

The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist have their mother house in Meriden, as do the Franciscan Brothers of the Eucharist.

Geography

The Hanging Hills and Hubbard Park, and Meriden below (2003)
The Quinnipiac River as it winds through the Quinnipiac River Gorge in South Meriden

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.1 square miles (62.5 km²), of which 23.8 square miles (61.5 km²) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²), or 1.66%, is water.

Meriden is a showcase for a number of prominent peaks of the Metacomet Ridge, a mountainous trap rock ridgeline that stretches from Long Island Sound to nearly the Vermont border. Notable peaks in Meriden include the Hanging Hills (West Peak, East Peak, South Mountain, and Cathole Mountain); Lamentation Mountain, Chauncey Peak, and Besek Mountain. Castle Craig, a city landmark for over a century, was constructed among the Hanging Hills in Hubbard Park.

The Quinnipiac River courses through the southwest quadrant of the city, known to area residents as "South Meriden", where it meanders through a gorge lined with several exposed sandstone and brownstone cliffs. Harbor Brook (originally named Pilgrim Harbor Brook) cuts through the town from the northeast to the southwest before emptying into Hanover Pond, an impoundment on the Quinnipiac River in South Meriden.

Principal communities

  • Meriden Center
  • South Meriden

Demographics

As of the 2010 census, there were 60,868 people in Meriden, with a population density of 2558 persons per square mile. There were 23,922 households (2009-13). The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.10. Husband-wife households account for 41% of all households. The population under 5 years (2010) was 6.7%, under 18 years (2010) was 23.9%, and 65 years and over was 12.9%. The female population was 51.6% compared to the male population at 48.4% (2010).[56]

The racial makeup of the city in 2010 was 73.5% White, 9.7% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 2.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 10.7% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28.9% of the population. In 2009-2013, 9.7% of the population was foreign-born.[2][56]

For 2009-13, the median household income was $52,590. The per capita income for the city was $26,941. The median value of owner-occupied housing units was $188,400. The home ownership rate was 61.8%. The high school graduation or higher rate was 83.6% (age 25+) and the bachelor's degree or higher rate was 19.1% (age 25+). 14.4% of people were below the poverty line.[56]

Political affiliation

Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 25, 2005[57]
Party Active voters Inactive voters Total voters Percentage
Democratic 9,225 524 9,749 30.15%
Republican 4,275 213 4,488 13.88%
Unaffiliated 16,927 1,147 18,074 55.90%
Minor Parties 19 2 21 0.06%
Total 30,446 1,886 32,332 100%

Transportation

Highway

The city of Meriden is located on Interstate 91, which provides access to Hartford, Springfield, and New Haven. Interstate 691 provides access to Interstate 84 and connects to points west like Waterbury. The Wilbur Cross Parkway (Connecticut Route 15) travels in a southwestern direction connecting to towns and cities like Wallingford, New Haven, and towards New York City. The parkway becomes the Berlin Turnpike (also Connecticut Route 15) on the northern end of Meriden. U.S. Route 5 passes through the city as North and South Broad Street.

Photo of train at Meriden's train station in 2013
The former MM&WRR right of way prior to construction of the linear trail

Railroad

The city of Meriden is connected to the cities of New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, Massachusetts, by regional rail service provided by Amtrak, which runs north-to-south through the center of the city. This rail line opened in 1839, and operated for many years under the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. The city was also served by the Middletown, Meriden and Waterbury Railroad, which provided both freight and passenger service to Waterbury and Middletown from 1888 until its abandonment in 1924. Currently, Amtrak runs 16 trains through the Meriden station on most weekdays.

Additionally, the Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to add a new commuter service called the Hartford Line in collaboration with Amtrak and the federal government that will run between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts. As of late 2015, funding had been secured and the service is scheduled to begin operation in May 2018.[58]

In the Quinnipiac River Gorge in South Meriden, 1.3 miles (2.1 km) of the original MW&CR Railroad right of way has been converted into a recreational rail trail as the Meriden Linear Trail. Open to the public in December 2006, the formal dedication occurred on November 3, 2007.[59]

Bus

Beginning in 1784, Meriden had a stop on the New Haven-Hartford Stage Coach [60] on Route 5 near the intersection of East Main Street. Years later, the same stop served as the bus stop for Greyhound and Peter Pan buses. Meriden had four daily departures to/from Hartford/Boston, and four daily departures to/from New Haven/New York daily from the 1970s through 2007, when intercity bus service ceased serving Meriden.

Meriden is linked to the Connecticut Transit System, Connecticut's extensive public transit bus network. Three bus lines loop throughout the city of Meriden once per hour. The "B" bus route departs the Meriden railroad station for the southern terminus of Kohls Plaza, connecting for New Haven; the "A" bus route departs the rail station for the northern terminus of Meriden Square with connections to New Britain and Hartford; and the east/west "C" bus travels along East Main and West Main Streets, with a handful of departures to Middletown and Waterbury.

Airport

Meriden Markham Municipal Airport is the city-owned airport, located 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the city center on the border of South Meriden and Yalesville, and serves private and charter planes.

Education

Photo of historic Board of Education building, formerly Meriden High School (2012)

The Meriden Board of Education operates several public schools:[61]

Public elementary schools (K-5)
  • John Barry
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Nathan Hale
  • Hanover
  • Thomas Hooker
  • Casimir Pulaski
  • Israel Putnam
  • Roger Sherman
Middle schools (6-8)
  • Lincoln (public)
  • Washington (public)
  • Thomas A. Edison (Magnet; run by ACES of North Haven)[62]
High schools

Private schools include:

Catholic K-8 schools
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel[64]

Other schools in the area include the Catholic high schools Xavier High School (boys) and Mercy High School (girls) in neighboring Middletown. The private schools Cheshire Academy and Choate Rosemary Hall are in adjacent Cheshire and Wallingford respectively.

The former St. Stanislaus Catholic K-8 School, established in 1897 by people who immigrated from Poland,[65] closed in 2015.[66]

Points of interest

Looking west from city hall to the Downtown Area, Meriden, CT. The Civil War monument (1873) is to the right, and the Hanging Hills are in the distance to the right. Photo in 2007.
Close-up view of soldier on Civil War monument in Meriden (2012)
The Curtis Memorial Library building (2007)
Red Bridge, one of no more than fifteen lenticular pony truss bridges remaining in Connecticut.[67]

Notable people

Since 1975, the Meriden Hall of Fame organization has issued recognitions. In the Meriden City Hall, plaques pay tribute to the inductees.[79]

Arts and humanities

Science and technology

Sports

Media

At one time The Meriden Daily Journal served as the community newspaper. Currently the Meriden Record Journal serves the communities of Meriden, Wallingford, Cheshire, and Southington and is located in downtown Meriden.[102]

References

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