The town was established in 1891 on the Onweiler farm north of the present site and was called Hunter. Two years later an I.O.O.F. lodge was organized and called itself Meridian because it was located on the Boise Meridian
The Boise Meridian is one of the 35 principal meridians of the Public Land Survey System of the United States. Adopted in 1867, its longitude is 116° 23' 35" west from Greenwich and its principal baseline is latitude 43° 22' 21" north. The meridian and baseline intersect approximately from Boise,...
and the town was renamed. The Settlers' Irrigation Ditch, 1892, changed the arid region into a productive farming community which was incorporated in 1902.
The information in the following sections (Irrigation, Village, Rail Transportation, and Creamery) is found on the displays in the Meridian City Hall Plaza.
Irrigation (1890 - Present)
Early settlers arriving in the area came with no knowledge of gravity flow irrigation. Their previous homes were in areas where rain provided the needed moisture to raise crops. Irrigation soon became a necessity, since having a water source was a requirement for receiving the patent for the land from the U.S. Land Office.
Irrigation was and continues to be backbreaking hard work. Long hours spent using shovels have been shortened by newer methods of irrigation, but it is still a daily task for the person in charge of agricultural crops. Many of those early settlers returned to the land where the rain fell instead of remaining in the area where watering crops was a full-time occupation. Those who stayed in Idaho were hardy citizens. Irrigation districts, such as the Nampa-Meridian and Settlers irrigation districts, continue to serve the immediate Meridian area.
Village (1903 - 1941)
The original Meridian town site was filed in 1893 on homestead grant land belonging to Eliza Ann Zenger. Her husband, Christian, filed the plat with county officials and called it Meridian. The early settlers, many of whom were relatives, left their homes in Missouri to come west, either by wagon train or immigrant railroad car, bringing their lodge and church preferences with them. They established local institutions soon after arriving and filed for homestead lands. In other words, they brought their community with them.
Around the turn of the century, settlers established fruit orchards and built fruit packing businesses and prune dryers along the railroad tracks. Local orchards produced many varieties of apples and Italian prunes. Production continued through the mid-1940s, when it was no longer profitable and the businesses closed. In 1941, Meridian's status changed from a village to a city.
Rail Transportation (1908 - 1928)
Following the raising of $4,000 to lay the Interurban rail line from Onweiler (Meridian and Ustick Roads), the tracks were completed into the village center. Turning east on Broadway and ending at East Second, the last car would spend the night in Meridian before returning to Boise early the next morning with passengers and freight. The interurban Station and Generator building (west one-third of the old library at Meridian and Idaho Streets) was built in 1912, and the line continued on to Nampa via Meridian. The tracks down Broadway were not used after 1912. The Interurban Company entered into receivership and closed in 1928 after 20 years of providing continuous economical transportation to neighboring towns. It was Meridian's main connection to the area outside the local community.
The Union Pacific Railroad spur opened in 1900 and is currently operated by the Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad. Many industrial customers continue to ship forest, agricultural, and chemical products along this corridor.
Creamery (1929 - 1970)
The lowest days of the Great Depression brightened for area dairymen when the Ada County Dairymen's cooperative creamery began operation in 1929. It provided milk checks to those who were members of the cooperative, enabling them to pay their taxes and provide food for their families. Other community members hauled milk to the creamery and were employed by the creamery, whose product was Challenge Butter.
The creamery ran 7 days a week for 40 years. Additions and improvements were made while the plant was in full operation. Later years saw the Wyeth Laboratories affiliate with the creamery to manufacture SMA baby formula.
After the creamery ceased local operations in 1970, the dairymen's milk was shipped to the Caldwell creamery for processing.
As of the census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...
of 2000, there were 34,919 people, 11,829 households, and 9,515 families residing in the city (although today, the city's population on street signs is 56,108). The population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...
was 2,962.1/sq mi. There were 12,293 housing units at an average density of 1,042.8 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 96.3% White, 0.7% African American, 1% Native American, 2% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from other races
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...
, and 2.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.7% of the population.
There were 11,829 households out of which 49% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.4% were married couples
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...
living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.6% were non-families. 14.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.93 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the city the population was spread out with 33.7% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 37.1% from 25 to 44, 15.8% from 45 to 64, and 6.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 96.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $53,276, and the median income for a family was $57,077. Males had a median income of $40,360 versus $27,174 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...
for the city was $20,150. About 4.6% of families and 5.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.0% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.
Meridian has a Mayor that serves 4 year terms and received annual salary of $70,200 in 2009. Meridian has a City Council of 4 members. Every two years, two City Council seats are up for re-election. Members of the City Council serve 4 year terms and received annual compensation of $9,000 in 2009.
The Mayor, with the consent of the City Council, appoints the following officers:
- City Attorney
- Public Works Director
- Chief of Police
- Fire Chief
- Planning Director
- Parks and Rec Director
- Chief Financial Officer
Parts of the City
The majority of the city lies North of I-84. Streets are named with a north, south, east or west prefix identifying the orientation of the street and where the street is in relation to the intersection of Franklin Road and Meridian Road. Roads with a North prefix are north of Franklin Road (which runs east and west). Roads with a West prefix are west of Meridian Road (which runs north and south). Many residents identify which section of the city they live in by the closest intersection of major roads that are generally laid out in square miles. From west to east, the major roads are Black Cat, Ten Mile, Linder, Meridian, Locust Grove, and Eagle. From north to south, the major roads are Chinden (Highway 20/26), McMillan, Ustick, Cherry (west of Meridian) or Fairview (east of Meridian), Franklin, Overland, Victory, and Amity.
I-84 is between Franklin and Overland. Pine is another major road that runs east/west and lies between Cherry and Franklin.
A railroad line runs east/west and lies between Pine and Franklin. Most of the city's industrial areas are concentrated along this railroad line with some other industrial areas near the east side of the city south west of the intersection of Fairview and Eagle.
A zoning map
is available on the city's web site.
Old-town Meridian centers around the intersection of Main Street and Pine Street. In the older section of the city, there are numbered streets up to 15th street to the west and up to 5th street to the east.
Because of Meridian's remarkable growth in the last 20 years, the majority of residential neighborhoods in the city are relatively new.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a federation of 39 separate health insurance organizations and companies in the United States. Combined, they directly or indirectly provide health insurance to over 100 million Americans. The history of Blue Cross dates back to 1929, while the history of...
of Idaho is based in Meridian. The Idaho State Police is headquartered in Meridian and the state police academy is housed on its campus. All police officers statewide are required to attend basic training at the facility.
The Meridian Symphony Orchestra
celebrated its 20th anniversary season in 2009-2010.
Art is on display in the Initial Point Gallery on the third floor of the Meridian City Hall. The gallery is open to the public with free admission.
is a large water park near the Meridian I-84 exit. Wahooz
is a large family entertainment complex open year-round featuring go carts, bumper boats, miniature golf, batting cages, laser tag, an arcade and grill.
The city's Parks and Rec department
manages 17 public parks throughout Meridian including Meridian Settlers Regional Park which hosts free outdoor movies during the summer months.
The Meridian Speedway
lies within city limits directly south of Old Town Meridian.
Meridian shares boundaries with the two largest cities in Idaho, Boise, ID to the east and Nampa, ID to the west. Therefore, residents of Meridian often take advantage of the recreation and sports opportunities in those cities.
Eagle Island State Park
is about 2.5 miles (4 km) north of Meridian and includes a man-made lake with a beach, equestrian and hiking trails, fishing, and a water slide. The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area has one of the densest populations of nesting raptors. The National Conservation Area is located south of Boise, Idaho along of the Snake River, and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The NCA covers...
is south of Meridian.
- William Agee
William Joseph Agee is an American businessman. In 1976 at age 38, he became the youngest non-family member CEO of a Fortune 100 Company when he was appointed President and CEO of the Bendix Corporation. In the 1980s and 1990s he served as Chairman, President and CEO of Morrison Knudsen Corporation...
, controversial business executive
- Ron Packard
Packard was only the third person to be elected to Congress as a write-in candidate. The two previously successful congressional write-in candidates were U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen in 1980 and Sen. Strom Thurmond in 1954. Upon being sworn in, Packard joined the Republican caucus...
, former congressman from California
- Gracie Pfost
Gracie Bowers Pfost was the first woman to represent Idaho in the United States Congress, serving five terms as a Democrat in the House of Representatives. Pfost represented the state's First Congressional District.-Biography:Pfost moved with her parents to a farm near Boise, Idaho, in 1911...
, first woman elected to Congress from Idaho
- Randy Tolsma
Randy Tolsma is a former race car driver. Tolsma began his racing career in go-karts at the age of nine, before moving into sprint cars, running as high as USAC, where he won four track championships...
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...
- Davey Hamilton
Davey Jay Hamilton is a race car driver in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series. He has made 50 series starts and while never winning a race, finished second 3 times...
, Indy 500
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, also known as the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Miles at Indianapolis, the Indy 500 or The 500, is an American automobile race, held annually, typically on the last weekend in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana...
- Vern Law
Vernon Sanders Law is a retired Major League Baseball pitcher. He played for 16 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates.-Career:Law was a member of the National League All Star Team in...
, Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...
- Emmett Avila, a Big Brother
Big Brother is the American version of the Big Brother reality television show based on the Dutch television series of the same name originally created by John de Mol in 1997. The show follows a group of House Guests living together twenty-four hours a day in the "Big Brother" house, isolated from...
- Spencer Nead
Spencer Nead is a former American football fullback of the National Football League. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He played college football at Brigham Young.Nead was also a member of the St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons.-External links:*...
, a former fullback for the New England Patriots
The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National...