Meriden was originally part of Wallingford. It was granted a separate meetinghouse in 1727, became a town in 1806, and incorporated as a city in 1867. It was named for the town of Meriden, England. Popular myth also states that it is named after the Merry Den tavern that may have been located near present-day Route 5.
The oldest house in town still standing, built by Solomon Goffe in 1711, is now a museum, the Solomon Goffe House.
In the 1800s, Meriden earned the nickname "Silver City", due to the large number of cutlery and related products which were manufactured there by companies such as International Silver and Meriden Cutlery.
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.
Hubbard Park in the Hanging Hills was financed by Walter Hubbard, local entrepreneur and president of the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company. Hubbard elicited the assistance of notable landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in drawing up the design.
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 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.
In 1900, Castle Craig was dedicated in Hubbard Park.
The Curtis Memorial Library opened in 1903.