Meriden, Connecticut

From Academic Kids

Meriden is a city located in New Haven County, Connecticut. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 58,244.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 62.5 km² (24.1 mi²). 61.5 km² (23.8 mi²) of it is land and 1.0 km² (0.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.66% water.


In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Meriden was a rural or suburban sector of the town of Wallingford. Situated halfway between the Connecticut Colony on the north (Hartford - Wethersfield) and the New Haven Colony on the south, it became a stopping place for colonists who traveled by horse or by foot. Belcher Tavern was one of its well-known resting places. At that time, wolves still roamed the woods in the north of town. The first wagon did not make its appearance here until 1789. The oldest house in town still standing (built by Solomon Goffe in 1711) is now a museum located on North Colony Road.

By 1724 there were approximately 35 families living in this North Farms area of Wallingford. Because it was so difficult for them to get to religious services from their scattered farms, they petitioned to have a separate meetinghouse closer to their homes. In 1727 this structure was raised on Meeting House Hill (now the corner of Ann Street and Dryden Drive), with the first burying ground set to the east. By 1728 the parish was known by the name Meriden. In 1806 the parish was recognized as the town of Meriden. When the railroad arrived in 1839 it helped change the center of town from the hill to the Pilgrim Harbor sector (near what is now downtown). In 1867 Meriden was incorporated as a city.

The nineteenth century saw the beginning trickle of what would become a flood of manufacturing in the city. Belts, hoops, pewter, guns, cutlery, nails, buttons, lamps, ivory combs, tin ware, organs, coffee grinders, and silver, the product that would lend its luster as Meriden became the “Silver City,” were all manufactured here. Stately mansions were built as manufacturers became prosperous. Wilcox and White produced the first mechanical piano. The Northern Literary Messenger, Meriden’s first newspaper, was published. Hotels, banks and businesses grew, electric lights arrived, schools were built, parks were added, more churches and a synagogue were built. The city thrived -- with a population of over 24,000 by 1900, the year Castle Craig was dedicated in Hubbard Park. Hubbard Park, the largest municipal park in all of New England. consists of 1,800 acres and was designed by the famed architect Frederick Law Olmstead. The Curtis Memorial Library opened in 1903. In 1912 the German author Gerhart Hauptmann was so impressed with the scenery around Merimere reservoir that it provided the basis for his romantic drama "The Sunken Bell."

In the 1920s the airport was built and the downtown traffic tower erected. The world wars and the Great Depression brought hardships to the city as they did to the rest of the country. Yet in March 1944, Meriden was proud to be honored as “The Nation’s Ideal War Community” for its industrial and patriotic contributions to the nation. Monument Boulevard on Broad Street honors those Meridenites who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces during various wars.

During the mid-dle of the twentieth century, some of the older businesses (including International Silver) moved or closed. Urban redevelopment changed the look of some areas, but the “pleasant valley” (possibly the ancient meaning of the name Meriden) remained. Newly-arrived immigrants added their energy to the growing town. A shopping mall was built, as were three high schools. Civic groups grew in numbers and service and Meriden became home to the first steamed cheeseburger. Daffodils, long planted at Hubbard Park, became the city's official flower with the inaugural Daffodil Festival celebrated in April, 1978. Meriden is a diverse community with significant Puerto Rican, Italian, Polish, Irish, African-American and German populations.

Starting with Charles Parker as the first mayor in 1867, Meriden’s city government was run by the mayor and city council until 1980 when the new city manager-city council form of government was implemented and Dana Miller was appointed the first city manager.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 58,244 people, 22,951 households, and 14,964 families residing in the city. The population density is 946.9/km² (2,452.8/mi²). There are 24,631 housing units at an average density of 400.4/km² (1,037.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 58.97% White, 15.30% Black or African American, 0.39% Native American, 1.37% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 20.65% from other races, and 4.3% from two or more races. 40.2% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. Latinos and African Americans are the fastest growing races in Meriden, A 2005 study estimates that the students in Meriden students are 47% Latino, 35% White, 17% African American, and 1% Asian.

There are 22,951 households out of which 31.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% are married couples living together, 15.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% are non-families. 28.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.49 and the average family size is 3.08.

In the city the population is spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $35,237, and the median income for a family is $52,788. Males have a median income of $39,633 versus $10,268 for females. The per capita income for the city is $15,597. 20.5% of the population and 17.5% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 33.3% of those under the age of 18 and 23.8% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

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