Aerial view, about 1914
|Nickname(s): The Silver City|
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
|Region||South Central Region|
|• City Manager||Guy Scaife|
|• Council Leaders|
|• Total||24.1 sq mi (62.5 km2)|
|• Land||23.8 sq mi (61.5 km2)|
|• Water||0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2)|
|Elevation||177 ft (54 m)|
|• Estimate (2016)||59,622|
|• Density||2,500/sq mi (970/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC−05:00)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC−04:00)|
|ZIP code||06450, 06451|
|GNIS feature ID||0208834|
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. It was named for the town of Meriden, West Midlands, England, near Birmingham. Popular myth also states that it is named after the Merry Den tavern that may have been located near present-day U.S. Route 5.
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. Timothy Jerome's son, Samuel, is the great-great grandfather of Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill's mother.
19th century to WWIIEdit
In the 1800s, Meriden became a manufacturing center of note, with several companies forming, or relocating to the city, including the Meriden Britannia Company (a predecessor of the International Silver Company with corporate HQ in Meriden), C.F. Monroe Company (1892–1916), Charles Parker Company, Parker Brothers (guns), Manning, Bowman & Co. (1849–1945), the Meriden Flint Glass Company (1876–92), Edward Miller & Co / Miller Company (1844–present), Wilcox and White, Handel Company (lamps), and the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company (1852–1940). Meriden earned the nickname "Silver City", due to the large number of silver manufacturers. In addition to hollowware, Meriden was also a significant center of cutlery production (various silver companies, Meriden Cutlery and Miller Bros. Cutlery. The small city is also for the historical production of glass and lamps. During this time, several mansions and houses of note were built, particularly on Broad Street.
Charles Parker and his younger brother opened their first factory in Meriden in 1832, with a capital outlay of $70.00. Over the years they manufactured a wide variety of products‚ from steam engines, train wheels and printing presses to piano stools. During the Civil War, Parker's Meriden Machine Company was under Union contract to produce 10,000 repeating rifles and 15,000 Springfield rifles. Parker began producing his own shotgun, referred to as "The Gun of 1866". In 1868, Charles and his sons, Wilbur, Charles and Dexter, started the Parker Brothers Gun Company, which continued as an independent company until 1934 when it was purchased by the Remington Arms Company.
On March 7, 1860, Abraham Lincoln spoke in Meriden seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
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."
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.
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.
Hollywood connection (1937–50)Edit
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. 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.
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.
Legacy of Meriden's grand manufacturing eraEdit
Many design objects from this manufacturing era from Meriden are in leading museums across the United States including those in Boston; at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York (28 objects); Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; New York; Philadelphia; Richmond, Virginia; Toledo, Ohio; and Washington, DC. Design objects from this era from Meriden have also been included in notable exhibitions since at least 1867, with Meriden Britannia products on view at the Paris Universal Exhibition. Some comparatively recent examples include In pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1986–87), 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. In 19th century Modern (2011–12) in Brooklyn, designs by the International Silver Company and the Napier Company, another Meriden manufacturer, were exhibited alongside iconic designs by Tiffany & Co. and the Thonet Brothers. In November 2016-November 2017, the city's iconic Napier penguin cocktail shaker is in an exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art; the Napier penguin is the lead image of the show.
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 product designer. For example, a painted glass and metal table lamp by Bradley and Hubbard, (c. 1920) sold for USD$14,950, doubling its estimate, at Christie's auction house in New York in 1999. Later, a 14-inch, International Silver Company cocktail shaker (c. 1927) sold for USD$21,600 tripling its estimate, at Christie's in New York in 2005. A Parker gun made for a Russian czar before World War I, but never delivered, was reported to have been sold for USD$287,500 in 2007. In 2008, a rare Handel lamp sold for USD$85,000. 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 (USD$83,250 on the day). 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 USD$377,000.
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. Since the 1850s, area designs have been included in over 200 exhibitions in the United States, Europe, South America and Australia.
WWII – 21st centuryEdit
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. Currently West Peak is home to six FM broadcast stations, including WNPR, WWYZ, WKSS, WDRC-FM, WMRQ-FM 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.
|Victory Boogie Woogie|
|Medium||Oil and paper on canvas|
|Dimensions||127 cm × 127 cm (50 in × 50 in)|
|Location||Gemeentemuseum, 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 and later travelled to venues in 24 American cities (1947–52), including the Los Angeles Museum of Art, Houston's Contemporary Art Museum, and the Milwaukee Art Institute. The exhibition featured and referred to the leading Modernists in American and European art and architecture with a connection to then-Miller Company lighting designs. Artworks in the Meriden-based collection included those by Picasso, Braque, Gris, Mondrian, Jose de Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and Stuart Davis, with photographs on Modern architecture design by Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius (Bauhaus), Oscar Niemeyer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe. Substantial national media coverage reported on the exhibition, as well as regional media outlets when the show was on view. Painting toward architecture is considered one of the important art exhibitions of the 20th century.
In the 1950s, the Miller Company Collection of Abstract Art was privatized to "Mr & Mrs Burton Tremaine, Meriden, CT" and numerous artworks were lent for exhibitions nationally and internationally into the 1970s with this designation. One highlight includes two of their artworks included in 'Cézanne to Miró' (1968) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, an exhibition that later traveled to Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Caracas.
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. The offices were located in downtown Meriden. The foundation is very well-known nationally and frequently mentioned in the national American fine art press and exhibition catalogues as a funder. In c. 2010, the foundation offices were relocated to New Haven, near Yale University.
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.
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.
- Meriden Center
- South Meriden
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).
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.
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.
|Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 25, 2005|
|Party||Active voters||Inactive voters||Total voters||Percentage|
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.
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.
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.
Beginning in 1784, Meriden had a stop on the New Haven-Hartford Stage Coach 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.
The Meriden Board of Education operates several public schools:
- Public elementary schools (K–5)
- John Barry
- Benjamin Franklin
- Nathan Hale
- 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)
- Catholic K–8 schools
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel
- High schools
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.
Points of interestEdit
- Civil War monument (1873) in front of the Meriden City Hall. 158 men from Meriden who died in the war are listed.
- Curtis Memorial Library (1903), which is an example of Neo-Classical architecture and on the National Register of Historic Places The building now houses the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center
- Giuffrida Park offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, with a variety of hiking trails and a lake.
- Historican cemeteries: Meetinghouse Hill Burying Ground (end of Ann Street), Meriden's first burial ground used 1727–1771; and Broad Street Cemetery (402 Broad Street), the second burial ground first used in 1771, includes a Revolutionary War commemoration plaque
- The Home National Bank building on Colony Street designed by the prominent, historical American architecture firm McKim, Mead & White
- Hubbard Park, about 1800 acres, part of the Hanging Hills, including Castle Craig on the National Register of Historic Places
- Hunter Golf Course
- Meriden Main Post Office (1907), designed by James Knox Taylor on the National Register of Historic Places
- The Miller Company addition on Center Street, with black-and-white Modernist facade designed by influential American architect Philip Johnson in 1965
- Moses Andrews House (c. 1760), on the National Register of Historic Places
- Old Traffic Tower
- Red Bridge (c. 1890) on the National Register of Historic Places
- Site of the former Jedediah Wilcox mansion (built 1870), 816 Broad Street. Demolished in the late 1960s, a parlor room from the mansion was saved and is exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
- Solomon Goffe House (1711), on the National Register of Historic Places
- Ted's Restaurant, known for its steamed cheeseburger, a modified version of the cheeseburger, invented in the early 1900s
- Trails: Meriden Linear Trail, Mattabesett Trail and the Metacomet Trail, which starts 4 miles north of Meriden
- Westfield Meriden Mall
- Gallery 53, 53 Colony Street, home of the Arts & Crafts Association of Meriden
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Since 1975, the Meriden Hall of Fame organization has issued recognitions. In the Meriden City Hall, plaques pay tribute to the inductees.
Arts and humanitiesEdit
- Beau Billingslea (born 1944), actor.
- Gary Burr (born 1952), American musician, songwriter, and record producer, primarily in the country music genre
- Tomie dePaola (born 1934), author and illustrator of over 200 children's books
- Jennifer DiNoia, Broadway singer and actress
- Philip Dunning (1889–1968), playwright and theatrical producer
- Ben Homer songwriter, composer and arranger who composed the tune to the hit song Sentimental Journey
- Rob Hyman (born 1950), rock musician and founding member of The Hooters
- Alphonse La Paglia (1907–1953), silver designer with many designs in American museums
- Conrad Henry Moehlman, professor of church history and author
- Rosa Ponselle (1897–1981), acclaimed opera singer
- Charlotte J. Sternberg (1920–2003), painter
- James Surowiecki, staff writer at The New Yorker
- Burton G. Tremaine Sr. (1901–1991), president of the Miller Company in Meriden and noted art collector
- Burton G. Tremaine Jr. (1923–2002), president and chairman of the Miller Company in Meriden, managed his family's large art collection, the first chairman of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation in Meriden, on the board of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, and Chairman of the Board of Meriden Hospital
- Emily Hall Tremaine (1908–1987), art director at the Miller Company in Meriden (c. 1950) and noted art collector
- E. Harold Hugo (1910–85), president of the Meriden Gravure Company, an innovator in the graphic arts industry
Science and technologyEdit
- Vincent Lamberti (1927–2014), lab researcher whose work resulted in 118 patents, most notably the development of Dove soap. He grew up in Meriden, later moving to Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
- John Jenkins (born 1989), National Football League defensive tackle (New Orleans Saints: 2013–; college football: University of Georgia; Maloney High School, Meriden)
- Kid Kaplan (1901–1970), world champion featherweight boxer
- Al Niemiec (1911–1995), Major League Baseball player
- Charlie Pilkington, three time New York State champion featherweight boxer and notable promoter
- Jackie Pilkington, noted professional lightweight boxer
- Gary Waslewski (born 1941), Major League Baseball player (1967–1972)
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.
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- (Undated). "Bowl – C.F. Monroe Company". Toledo Museum of Art website. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
- (Undated). In the collection: Cocktail set (cup). Manufactured by Manning Bowman Company, active 1849–1945. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston website. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
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- (Undated). "Collection search: Manning Bowman Company": 14 objects in the collection. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston website. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
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- (Undated). "Three-Piece Tea Set with Tray, 1928", International Silver Company. Art Institute of Chicago website. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- (Undated). "Coffee Set, 1929/30", International Silver Company. Art Institute of Chicago website. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- (Undated). Eliel Saarinen’s Architectonic Tea Urn (for the International Silver Company) from the 1930s recently acquired for the Dallas Museum of Art collection. Dallas Museum of Art website. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
- (Undated). Punch Bowl on Stand, Meriden Cut Glass Company, 1895. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
- (Undated). In the collection: Manning Bowman and Co. – 1857-present. Brooklyn Museum of Art website. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
- (Undated). In the collection: International Silver Company (25 objects). Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York website. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
- "Hanukkah Lamp", late 19th century, Meriden Britannia Company. Jewish Museum, New York website. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
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- Metropolitan Museum of Art. (1986). In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement. (Includes extensive bibliography concerning the Meriden Brittania Company). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York & Rizzoli. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- (Undated). "Modernism in American Silver: 20th century design" exhibition (several International Silver designs are featured) (September 16, 2005 – January 22, 2006) (Organized by the Dallas Museum of Art, exhibited there as well as the Smithsonian Institution and Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami Beach). Smithsonian American Art Museum website. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
- (Undated). "19th-Century Modern" exhibition announcement page (including designs by the International Silver Company and Napier Company). Brooklyn Museum of Art website. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
- (Undated). "Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail" (exhibition announcement). Dallas Museum of Art website. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
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- (Undated). "A silver-plated cocktail shaker in the form of Boston lighthouse" (International Silver Company), c. 1927. (Sale 1858, Lot 84 in year 2005). Christie's website. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
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- (Undated). "Handel: A fine and rare lamp". Sotheby's website. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
- (Undated). "Al Capone's cocktail shaker" (c. 1932) (made by Meriden International Sterling Company). Sotheby's website. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- (Undated). Paul Lobel: An important and rare four-piece coffee service (c. 1934–36). Sotheby's website. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
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- FCC callsign history 104.1FM
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- (Undated). "Cézanne to Miró at the Museum of Modern Art, New York". MoMA website. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
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- (Undated). Thomas Edison Middle School – ACES website. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Meriden, Connecticut.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Meriden.|
- City of Meriden website
- Meriden 2020 downtown redevelopment organization – City of Meriden
- Meriden Historical Society website
- Meriden history books (1847–1956) online
- Meriden Hall of Fame organization
- Maps of Meriden (1875–1919) online
- Historical Design Meriden website
- "Meriden". The New Student's Reference Work. 1914.