Today in 1906, three parades commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Meriden took place throughout the city. The day’s main parade — comprised of 162 automobiles, which the Hartford Courant described as “of every sort and description” decorated with “flowers in profusion, vines and greens, flags and bunting, plumes and every other variety of trimming that the artistic eye and ingenious hand could devise” — filled the center of town, and was followed by patriotic ceremonies, horse races, and athletic competitions at the Meriden Trotting Park.
The three parades held today in 1906 were just a fraction of the 11 scheduled during the “Silver City’s” week-long centennial celebration. Collectively, they were intended to display both the diversity and the prosperity of the thriving century-old city.In 1906, Meriden was the fifth largest municipality in the state, and one of the finest examples of a flourishing Connecticut factory town. It was home to factories manufacturing everything from telephones to furniture, but the city had earned a national reputation for its dominance in American silver manufacturing and silverplating. Just as Waterbury had become known as “the Brass City” and Manchester “the Silk City” for their respective industrial concentrations, Meriden was now called “the Silver City”. In 1898, the International Silver Company had been 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 reflected the immense optimism the city’s residents had in its future prospects. The eleven parades during that week of festivities honored, among other things, 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 of the Silver City looked bright, and the past was on parade — today in Connecticut history.
“A Brief History of Meriden,” City of Meriden municipal website