June 12: Celebrating Meriden’s Centennial

 

On this day in 1906, three parades commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Meriden, Connecticut took place throughout the city.  A parade of automobiles, with prizes to be awarded for “the handsomest decorated autos of any class,” filled the center of town, followed by patriotic ceremonies, horse races, and athletic competitions at the Trotting Park on the outskirts of town.

It was a heady time for the prosperous city: At the time of its centennial in 1906, Meriden was the fifth largest municipality in the state, and had become one of the finest examples of a flourishing Connecticut factory town.  While home to dozens of factories manufacturing everything from telephones to furniture , the city earned a national reputation for its prominence in a single industry: silver manufacturing and silver-plating.  Just as Waterbury had become known as “the Brass City” and Manchester “the Silk City” for their respective industrial assets, Meriden had earned a reputation as “the Silver City” by the late 19th century.  In 1898, the International Silver Company was founded in Meriden and quickly became the most dominant brand name in household silver after buying out and consolidating over a dozen smaller silver factories in the region.

Meriden’s centennial celebration was one for the ages, reflecting the immense optimism the city’s residents had in its future prospects.  The parades on June 12, 1906 were only three out of a scheduled eleven to be held throughout the city as part of a full week of festivities honoring the military, labor unions, local cultural organizations, and even the city of Wallingford, the “parent town” from which Meriden broke away in 1806.  The future looked bright in the Silver City — on this day in Connecticut history.

A detailed “aero view” of Meriden, Connecticut from 1918, listing the city’s many industries.

Further Reading

Meriden,” connecticuthistory.org

A Brief History of Meriden,” City of Meriden municipal website