One of the enduring symbols of Meriden, Connecticut is its historic traffic control tower. In the early days of automobile travel, traffic at intersections was directed by an attendant in a control tower. The attendant would get to their booth in the tower by climbing a ladder from the base of the tower. This attendant would manually switch the familiar red, yellow, and green lights of the traffic light in a regulated pattern. The traffic control tower also includes signs for destinations such as Hartford, Middletown and Waterbury, which are nearby cities in Connecticut. Also featured on the sign is a mention of US Route 6A, which was a southern alternate route for US 6 in Connecticut and is now part of CT 66.
Meriden's traffic control tower was first erected and used on September 21, 1925. The traffic control tower was considered to be innovative for its time as this was before automated traffic signals caught on. The tower was considered unique and was quickly adopted by local residents who considered it to be a local landmark and a symbol of Meriden. The traffic control tower was originally placed a few blocks north of its current location in an area rich in transportation history in both Meriden and Connecticut at large. Early colonial roads and stage coach roads passed through Meriden, usually going to either Hartford or New Haven. Later, US 5 once passed through downtown Meriden, but now the highway runs east of Meriden down Broad Street.
As for the traffic control tower, during the 1930s, the Meriden Daily Journal ran a news column titled "The Traffic Tower", beckoning the popularity of the traffic control tower as a landmark. During World War II, servicemen from Meriden received a monthly news bulletin that featured a picture of the tower as a reminder of their home back in Meriden. On May 22, 1967, After 42 years of operation, Meriden's traffic control tower earned a retirement from service to make way for a modern traffic control device in its place. But since the tower also earned a place in the heart of the Meriden faithful, the tower was purchased and renovated by local business interests and committees. With that in mind, the traffic control tower was places near its original location at the intersection of Colony and West Main Streets in downtown Meriden, not far from the Meriden Green. As a symbol of Meriden's history and innovation, the traffic control tower can be enjoyed for generations to come.
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Sources and Links:
Roadside America - Traffic Control Tower
Atlas Obscura - Traffic Control Tower