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Wilmington: Recreation


From the eighteenth-century homes in Wilmington Square to the country estates along the Brandywine, Wilmington's attractions are rich in history. Prominent among them is the legacy of one family. The du Ponts, who did so much to shape the city's economy, have also had a pervasive influence on its cultural life.

One of the du Pont's greatest contributions is Nemours Mansion and Gardens, the 300-acre estate of Alfred I. du Pont, who designed the mansion in the style of a Louis XVI chateau and filled it with European art works. Its 77 rooms are furnished with antique furniture, oriental rugs, tapestries, and outstanding paintings dating to the fifteenth century. Outside, formal gardens extend a third of a mile from the main vista of the mansion. Ten miles north is Longwood Gardens, the 1,050-acre horticultural masterpiece of Pierre Samuel du Pont. In spring, summer, and fall, visitors enjoy more than 350 acres of outdoor gardens, fountain displays, fireworks, theatrical productions, and concerts. During the winter months the main attraction is a group of heated conservatories that shelter many rare and exotic plants. Gardening enthusiasts can also experience naturalistic garden designs and native plants at their best at the Mt. Cuba Center, the former estate of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot Copeland du Pont, in nearby Greenville.

Historic Wilmington can be glimpsed at several locations in the area. Fort Christina State Park is the site of the original fort the Swedes built when they landed in 1638. Today visitors see a monument to that expedition by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles and the kind of log cabin that would have been built by an early settler. Next to the park is the Tall Ship Kalmar Nyckel, a full-size recreation of the ornate, armed ship that brought the early settlers here. The 139-foot ship is Delaware's seagoing Ambassador of Good Will. Erected in 1698, Holy Trinity Church (also known as Old Swedes Church) is the oldest church in the United States that stands as originally built and is still used for regular worship. Once of Swedish Lutheran affiliation, it has been used for Episcopal services since 1791. Formerly the center of Wilmington's social and political life, Old Town Hall (1798) serves as a museum, while a beautiful Art Deco building across the street houses the Historical Society of Delaware's Museum offices and Research Library. Visitors can view exhibits pertaining to Delaware history at the Delaware History Museum, part of the complex. For military history buffs, the Air Mobility Command Museum, located in Hangar 1301 on Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, houses some of the most unique and distinguished military flying machines of the past 50 + years. The Grand Opera House is one of the finest examples of castiron architecture in America. Built in 1871, the meticulously restored theater serves as Delaware's Center for the Performing Arts. Rockwood, built in 1851 by Quaker merchant Joseph Shipley, serves as an outstanding example of rural Gothic architecture; the English-style country house and gardens are now administered by New Castle County's Department of Parks and Recreation. The mansion's furnishings include decorative arts and archives from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. At Wilmington Square are four beautiful eighteenth-century houses, moved to the site in 1976, which are now used for meeting and office space by the Historical Society of Delaware.

Wilmington residents enjoy a total of more than 550 acres of park land, almost 200 acres of which comprise Brandywine Park. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who created New York City's Central Park, Brandywine provides a setting of natural beauty only ten minutes from downtown Wilmington. Brandywine Zoo houses many exotic species of animals from North and South America and Africa. A focal point of Wilmington's waterfront attractions is the Port of Wilmington at the end of Christina and Terminal avenues. Visitors are invited to witness the day-to-day operations of one of the nation's busiest ports. Approximately four miles upstream, running from the Amtrak Station to the Shipyard Shops/Frawley Stadium/Bank One Riverfront Arts Center, is the Riverwalk with many Christina River attractions. The Christina Riverboat Company offers lunch, dinner, moonlight, and specialty cruises on a three-mile boat ride down the Christina Riverfront.

Arts and Culture

The cultural tastes of Wilmington's benefactors are reflected in sites throughout the area, while widespread patronage sustains local artists and arts organizations. The Delaware State Arts Council, headquartered in Wilmington, is the mentor to many of the city's cultural groups. It directly supports monthly exhibitions of the visual arts and publishes a Directory of Visual Artists.

Theater, dance, and music productions figure prominently in the city's cultural life. Highlighting Wilmington's downtown renewal efforts is the 1,100-seat Grand Opera House, home of the Delaware Symphony and OperaDelaware. Delaware's professional symphony orchestra performs more than 40 classical, pops, and chamber concerts each year, as well as touring engagements. One of the city's oldest arts companies, OperaDelaware performs two annual fully-staged productions with complete orchestra plus a Family Opera Theater production each spring. The Opera House also hosts stand-up comedians, jazz concerts, and world culture events on its 100-event annual schedule. The 400-seat Delaware Theatre Company offers a series of plays in its Christina riverfront location from November to April. Six professional first-run Broadway shows and an acclaimed Children's series are staged regularly from September to May at the 1,200-seat DuPont Theater (formerly the Playhouse Theatre) in the Hotel du Pont. The DuPont Theater is also the setting each December for a lavish production of the "Nutcracker Ballet" performed by the Wilmington Academy of the Dance. Other theater groups include the Wilmington Drama League, the New Candlelight Theater in Arden, and Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre.

Like so many other attractions in the area, several of Wilmington's major museums and galleries are linked to the du Pont family. Henry Francis du Pont spent a lifetime collecting the finest American furniture and decorative arts made or used between 1640 and 1840. At Winterthur Museum, the furniture of Duncan Phyfe, the silver of Paul Revere, and room furnishings from all over the eastern seaboard are displayed in 200 period settings, from a New England kitchen to a Georgia Empire-style dining room. Three new galleries have been built adjacent to the existing museum. Surrounding the museum are 200 landscaped acres, reminiscent of an eighteenth-century English park, and Chandler Woods.

Eleuthere I. du Pont, discovering that high-quality black powder (gunpowder) was a scarce commodity in eighteenth-century America, began an industry that grew into one of the world's largest corporations. At Hagley Museum on the Brandywine the life of the nineteenth-century mill worker has been recreated. As visitors stroll along the banks of the river, they see a restored operating wooden water wheel, turbine-powered roll wheels, a vintage steam engine, a stone quarry, a machine shop, and a hydroelectric plant. Overlooking the powder yards is Eleutherian Mills, the Georgianstyle country home built by E. I. du Pont in 1803. The Hagley Library is one of the finest repositories of industrial and manufacturing history in the United States.

The Delaware Museum of Natural History reflects the interests of its founder, John du Pont. Visitors encounter examples of Delaware flora and fauna. They can also walk across Australia's Great Barrier Reef, view an African waterhole, and enter the Hall of Birds, which features a 27-pound bird egg. In addition, the museum houses one of the world's finest shell collections, a scale model of the International Space Station, and a permanent dinosaur exhibit.

The Wilmington area's other museums include the Brandywine River Museum, which houses three generations of Wyeth family paintings as well as works by Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, and many other American artists. The Rockwood Museum, a nineteenth-century country estate, features decorative arts from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, and the George Reed II House & Garden in Historic New Castle is a fine example of Georigan architecture. The First USA Riverfront Arts Center opened in 1998 as a major part of the redevelopment of the Christina Riverfront. This 25,000-square-foot exhibition center's first exhibition was Nicholas & Alexandra: The Last Imperial Family of Czarist Russia. The exhibit attracted more than 500,000 people during its six-month run. Other attractions include the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, the 33,000 square-foot Delaware Center for Contemporary Art in Wilmington, and the Delaware Center for Horticulture on DuPont Street.

The Delaware Art Museum closed in the fall of 2004 to begin a $25 million expansion, which will update the facility with a new facade, additional exhibit and conference space, outdoor gardens for sculptural displays, and improved handicap access. A world-class institution, the Museum hosts a 12,000 piece collection of traditional and contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography, and crafts that represent some of the finest American art from 1840 to the present, and includes the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings outside the United Kingdom. The expansion and renovation was due to be completed in spring 2005.

Festivals and Holidays

Ethnic festivals dot the city's calendar, beginning with the Irish Worker's Festival in April. In May, residents celebrate the Jewish Festival, as well as the annual Wilmington Flower Market week-long celebration, followed in June by Greek Days and the one-day annual Polish Festival (celebrating it's 50th year in 2006). June is also the month when thousands flock to Wilmington's Little Italy (the area surrounding St. Anthony of Padua Church) for the annual Italian Festival. In July, Rockwood Museum's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Festival is a family favorite. In fall comes the Brandywine Arts Festival, when more than 250 artists from around the country exhibit their works along the riverbank. Visitors can find paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and crafts, or partake in an afternoon auction each day of the festival while they enjoy the scenic beauty of Brandywine Park. Many local museums host special Christmas events, including a Christmas at Rockwood, a Yuletide Tour at Winterthur, and a holiday Candlelight Tour at Hagley Mills Museum.

Sports for the Spectator

The Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Class A minor league team affiliated with the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox, plays at the 6,532 seat Daniels S. Frawley Stadium on Madison Street. Racing enthusiasts in Wilmington enjoy the Delaware Park Race Track and Slots Casino, which hosts daytime thoroughbred racing from April to September at one of the nation's most picturesque sporting facilities. A different kind of racing draws Wilmingtonians to the Winterthur Point-to-Point on the first Sunday in May. Five amateur steeplechases are the main event, preceded by pony races and a parade of horse-drawn coaches and carriages. Every June, the du Pont Country Club welcomes the world's best women golfers for the LPGA McDonald's Championship. The First Union Cycling includes Wilmington in its Mid-Atlantic series of venues in May. The massively popular NASCAR auto racing circuit makes two stops annually at the Dover International Speedway. Blue Diamond Park in New Castle features Motocross, BMX, and ATV racing.

Sports for the Participant

Wilmington residents have easy access to more than 4,500 acres of county park land. Those who prefer to ride their own horses are invited to try the equestrian trails at Bellevue State Park on the former estate of William du Pont. The park's nearly 300 acres offer bridle trails, indoor and outdoor equestrian tracks, a fishing pond, a fitness track, and the Bellevue Tennis Center. Public golf courses include Rock Manor Golf Course, Three Little Bakers Country Club, Frog Hollow Golf Course, Ed Oliver Golf Club, and the private Delaware National Country Club. Delaware's largest freshwater marsh is in Brandywine State Park, making it a favorite with birdwatchers. Avid fishermen reel in crappie, bluegill, and rock bass here. The park offers 12 miles of hiking and equestrian trails, as well as canoeing on Brandywine Creek. Rolling meadows and woodlands also make this a winter favorite for cross-country skiers. Wilmington has three YMCAs and a downtown racquetball facility.

Shopping and Dining

Because there is no sales tax in Delaware, retailing is strong in Wilmington. The enclaves of Trolley Square, Historic New Castle, Hockessin, Little Italy, Newark, Centreville, and Kennett Square in PA, offer one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques. Market Street Mall offers specialty shops, restaurants, and cafes in the heart of Wilmington's central business district. Christina Mall (south of Wilmington, along I-95), features 4 major anchor stores and more than 130 shops. Concord Mall, on Concord Pike, has more than 80 specialty shops. The 200,000-square-foot Riverfront Wilmington's Shipyard Shops outlets offer daily discounts. Four art galleries featuring hand-made crafts and fine art from around the country are within a half-hour drive of each other: The Andre Harvey Studio, Creations Fine Woodworking Gallery, Helen May Glickstein Gallery, and Sommerville Manning Gallery.

Fine dining is the norm for Wilmington's upscale population. City restaurants feature everything from Chesapeake Bay blue crabs to Japanese tempura. Many of the area's colonial inns and taverns are still serving guests. Fresh seafood and steaks are the norm at the waterside restaurants along Riverfront Wilmington. Mediterranean and Italian fare can be found at Wilmington's Little Italy neighborhood. Trolley Square has sidewalk cafes, cozy bistros, and lively pubs. For a taste of history, visitors and locals go to the colonial taverns in nearby historic New Castle.

Visitor Information: Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, 100 West 10th Street, Suite 20, Wilmington, DE 19801; telephone (302)652-4088; fax (302)652-4726

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Wilmington: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Companies working in service industries such as health care, banking, trade, and manufacturing remain Wilmington's largest employers. The Wilmington/Newark metropolitan area is home to some of the world's most prominent technology companies, including DuPont, AstraZeneca, W.L. Gore and Associates, Hercules, Inc., and Andersen Consulting. The Delaware Technology Park in Newark is host to more than 49 technology-driven businesses. Delaware is a national corporate center, and more than half of the Fortune 500 charter their operations in the city because of the state's favorable corporate franchise tax laws and nationally recognized Court of Chancery.

More than 60 banksstate, national and regionalare located in Wilmington. MBNA Bank is the area's largest employer with more than 11,000 workers. American Life Insurance Company's world headquarters is an impressive anchor in the city's developing Christina Gateway, a commercial center encompassing the eastern sector to the waterfront. Chase Manhattan has invested millions of dollars in downtown offices, as have PNC, First Union, Wilmington Trust, First USA, and Beneficial National Bank. Manufacturers Hanover has relocated a portion of its domestic lending operation to the city as well.

Other large manufacturing companies with operations in the Wilmington region include Daimler-Chrysler, Ciba-Geigy (pharmaceuticals), and Dade Behring (medical apparatus manufacturers).

Items and goods produced: chemicals, medical apparatus, mineral products, pharmaceuticals, aerospace products, automobiles

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

Wilmington provides strong incentives to businesses thinking of establishing operations in the city. Among the city incentives are: Christina Gateway Tax Incentive Program; Real Property Tax Exemption Program; Head Tax, which allows any new or relocating business in the city that brings over 100 new employees to obtain a waiver to the City's Head tax, a $6.00 fee per employee the city charges for upkeep of the city's infrastructure, police and other city services; Enterprise Zone; Blue Collar Tax Program, which provides that any business that creates blue-collar jobs in the city is eligible for a $250.00 state tax credit per $100 million invested; and incentives for locating in brownfields.

State programs

Delaware corporations have always benefited from the absence of either sales or inventory tax, and there are tax credits on corporate income and gross receipts tax reductions for new or expanding key industries. State incentive programs include Industrial Revenue Bond Financing; the Delaware Innovation Fund, developed to support the creation and development of new high growth, technology based firms, and high quality jobs in Delaware; and The Delaware Access Program, developed to assist banks in making high-risk business loans.

Job training programs

When the labor market cannot respond to an employer's needs, or when additional skills are necessary because of a particular business situation, the Delaware Economic Development Office has access to recognized educational resources that can provide skill training designed to the company's specifications. Training contracts may be arranged with colleges, vocational schools, specialized training centers, and independent agencies that provide business, industrial, and service-related instruction.

Development Projects

In his 2000 message to the city, Mayor Sills reported the following developments in Wilmington: "Through initiatives like Wilmington Renaissance, major corporations have expanded their business operations in the city, largely by shifting thousands of employees and new jobs to Wilmington from suburban locations. . . [In recent years] we have also brought in more than $10 million in private and government funds for key neighborhood development projects." Wilmington Renaissance is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to expand downtown employment and downtown living through partnerships with the mayor, city council, state and county officials, and agencies supporting development in Wilmington's downtown. A major recent project that has come out of the collaboration is a retail and residential project in the city's historic Ships Tavern District. The $24 million development, completed in the fall of 2004, brought more than 80 apartments and 18 retail shops to a city block that holds more than a dozen historically significant buildings. Originally constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, the three- and four-story buildings had mostly been sitting vacant or used as warehouse space for more than two decades.

Mayor James M. Baker also announced plans to begin construction in March 2005 on a new 150,000-square-foot office and retail complex at the site of the former Wilmington Dry Goods in downtown Wilmington. Called the Renaissance Centre, the $50 million project would house more than 550 employees and is expected to be completed by 2007. The city also came to an agreement that would allow the Brandywine Realty Trust Corp. to develop a piece of prime downtown property with a proposed 22-story, 500,000-square-foot office complex near 2nd and King Street.

Economic Development Information: Delaware Economic Development Office, 820 N. French Street, Wilmington, DE 19901; telephone (302)577-8477. New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, County Commerce Office Park, Suite 201, 630 Churchman's Road, Newark, DE; telephone (302)737-4345

Commercial Shipping

The flow of goods in and out of Wilmington is facilitated by its network of interstate highways and air and rail freight service. The city also boasts one of the busiest ports in the world. Perhaps the city's greatest economic asset, the state-owned Port of Wilmington lies at the mouth of the Christina River, only 65 miles from Atlantic Ocean shipping lanes. Incoming cargo, such as fresh fruit, concentrated juice, frozen meat, vehicles, lumber, and steel can be dispatched directly from ships to freight cars, trucks, and lighter carriers, saving handling costs and speeding delivery. The port has been designated a Free Trade Zone, offering customs benefits that are attractive to international trade. The full-service, deep-water port handles more than 400 vessels and nearly 5 million tons of cargo yearly, and its discharging facilities include two 46-ton container cranes that can handle 35 containers an hour.

The interstate highways that pass through Wilmington give truckers direct access to one-third of the nation's consumers; more than 60 common and contract carriers operate in the metropolitan area. Wilmington is also served by the mainline of Norfolk Southern System, with excellent direct freight service to major markets.

The New Castle County Airport offers worldwide cargo services with an unusually fast and efficient ground delivery system. Repair and maintenance services, leasing and storage facilities for commercial and corporate aircraft are also available. Also within a short commute of Wilmington are both Philadelphia International Airport and Dover Air Force Base. Additionally the smaller public-use airports of New Garden, Brandywine, and Spitfire are within 20 miles of downtown Wilmington.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Wilmington offers businesses a diverse labor force with a good mixture of blue- and white-collar workers. Forbes magazine rated the Wilmington-Newark and Dover metropolitan areas among the nation's "Best Places for Business and Careers" in the May 2000 edition.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Wilmington-Newark metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 318,500

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 18,100

manufacturing: 23,400

trade, transportation and utilities: 58,500

information: 6,500

financial activities: 39,500

professional and business services: 52,800

educational and health services: 38,300

leisure and hospitality: 26,000

other services: 13,500

government: 41,900

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $21.76

Unemployment rate: 4.0% (November 2004)

Largest employers (2004; New Castle County, including Wilmington) Number of employees
MBNA Corp. 11,000
EI DuPont de Nemours Co. 9,600
Christina Care Health Services 6,500
Alfred I. DuPont Institute (Medical Campus) 2,800
Astra-Zeneca 2,400

Cost of Living

In comparison with other eastern seaboard cities such as Philadelphia and New York, Wilmington boasts of relatively low living costs, particularly those associated with housing.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Wilmington area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 105.4 (U.S. average = 100.0)

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $247,820

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.2% to 5.95%

State sales tax rate: None

Local income tax rate: 1.42%

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: $1.3348 per $100 of assessed valuation (assessed valuation = 100% of fair market value)

Economic Information: City of Wilmington Department of Commerce, City-County Building, 800 French St., Wilmington, DE 19801-3537; telephone (302)571-4169

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Wilmington: History

Lenni-Lenape Indians lived in the Wilmington area long before Europeans and Africans arrived on Delaware's shores. "Lenni" means pure or original, and "Lenape" means the people. Their control extended north into Pennsylvania and south to the Potomac; their customs and traditions resembled those of their neighbors, the Nanticokes and the Powhatans of Virginia. European settlers first encountered this tribe of "peacemakers" in the early seventeenth century.

Various Countries Possess Early Colony

Wilmington was the first permanent Old World settlement in the entire Delaware Valley. In March 1638, a Swedish expedition led by Peter Minuit entered Delaware Bay. They sailed up the river and entered the Minquas Kill (today's Christina River). Going 2 miles inland, they cast anchor opposite a natural stone wharf. Here at "The Rocks"which are still visible today at the foot of Seventh StreetMinuit stepped ashore and made a treaty with the Lenni-Lenapes. The land he purchased was dubbed New Sweden, and Swedish soldiers soon began constructing a fort they named after their queen, Christina. Inside the fort they built the first log cabins in America. Before the ship left in June, the 24 original Swedes, Finns, Dutch, and German settlers were joined by Anthoni, "The Black Swede," a freedman from the Caribbean. All 25 were alive and well two years later when the ship returned. In all, Sweden sent 12 expeditions to the new world, but the fledgling colony received little support from Queen Christina and in 1656 was overtaken by the Dutch. Peter Stuyvesant, the Governor of New Amsterdam, laid siege to the tiny colony and ultimately the Swedes surrendered.

In 1664, as a result of a war between Holland and England, the colony along the Delaware was brought under English rule. Then, in 1681, William Penn received a grant from England's King Charles II for the largest tract ever given a commoner. "Penn's Woods," or Pennsylvania, was intended to be a haven for members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers. For the next fifty years, Penn and Lord Baltimore would vie for ownership of the three counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. As Pennsylvania added western counties, Delaware demanded home rule, and in 1704 the counties were granted their own assembly with Pennsylvania and Delaware sharing the same crown-appointed governor.

Around 1730, a large tract of land in what is now Wilmington was deeded to a man named Thomas Willing, who called the tiny settlement Willingtown. Willingtown was a farming community of 15 to 20 houses when prosperous Quakers began to arrive in 1735. Immediately they began investing in property and, simultaneously, the town began to grow. At this time there was no formal government; therefore, decisions were made by consent of all the townspeople. Then, in 1739, England's King George II granted a charter addressed to "the People of Wilmington;" the king is thought to have arbitrarily named the town after his friend Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington. The first election held under the borough charter took place on September 8, 1740. This same year the first vessel built for foreign trade, the Wilmington, sailed for Jamaica. A brisk shipping trade continued to benefit local merchants despite wars and privateers. Industries such as brick-making, pottery, tanning, and flour-milling (at mills along the Brandywine) began to flourish.

Wilmington in Revolutionary Times

The summer of 1777 found the community of Wilmington in the center of the struggle for American independence from England. George Washington established Revolutionary army headquarters in Wilmington, as did General Anthony Wayne. After the British took Wilmington, following the Battle of Brandywine, the town became a British camp. The Presbyterian Meeting House was used as a prison, and residents' houses were requisitioned to care for the wounded. Wilmingtonians did not see the last of British troops until the end of October 1777. An economic slump followed the war, but soon Wilmington had a fleet of ships engaged in coastal, as well as European, trade. Many Irish passed through the Port of Wilmington at this time, as well as French refugees from Santo Domingo. Scarcely had these immigrants settled when hundreds more poured in from Philadelphia, where yellow fever was rampant. Until the epidemic, Wilmington merchants had depended on Philadelphia banks for financial support. Suddenly isolated from their neighbor, they realized the need for economic self-sufficiency and founded the Bank of Delaware in 1795.

Economic Development Marks Nineteenth Century

Between the close of the Revolution and the War of 1812, Wilmington's population increased to 5,000, the town spread westward, and streets were widened to accommodate the flow of traffic. Five turnpikes built between 1808 and 1815 greatly increased Wilmington's trade. Steamboats ran regularly between the town and Philadelphia, as did stagecoaches carrying passengers and freight. One of the earliest railroads in the United States, the Newcastle & Frenchtown Railway, opened in 1831, and soon after came the Wilmington & Susquehanna. By 1831 Wilmington's population had grown so large that leading citizens petitioned the legislature to incorporate the town as a city. The charter was granted in 1832, and city officials were elected.

From 1832 until the Civil War, new enterprises sprang up on the shores of the Christina River, supplementing those already prospering along the Brandywine. Shipbuilding, paper milling, and the manufacture of machine tools, iron, railroad cars, and cotton joined the earlier industries of flour milling and leather tanning.

Wilmington in the Twentieth Century

World War I kept all available industrial plants working full time; blast furnaces and shipyards operated round-the-clock. The conflict brought immense trade to E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, which had been producing gun powder in the area since 1802. After the war du Pont moved away from explosives to manufacture materials such as Nylon, Dacron, Orlon, and Cellophane. When other chemical companies moved into the region, Wilmington became known as "The Chemical Capital of the World." This industrial expansion brought great wealth to the area, and in the decades following World War II, a large increase in population.

Like many American cities, Wilmington has seen a steady flow of residents leave the city for the suburbs. The exodus of the middle class left the city to the urban poor, particularly to blacks and the elderly, creating new problems. Racial violence that broke out in the wake of Martin Luther King's assassination on April 4, 1968, required heavy patrol by the National Guard for many months. Today Wilmington is dealing successfully with the problem of urban safety. Teamwork by government and business leaders has focused on making public transit and the entire downtown area once again attractive to residents and visitors. The revitalization of downtown buildings and new housing construction and the redevelopment of the Christina Riverfront continue to be priorities for the city and state governments. The revitalization of the central business area continues to stimulate increased interest in Wilmington. Revitalization efforts include many new restaurants plus the construction of a new live performance theater, a baseball stadium, the First USA Riverfront Arts Center in 1998, a 1.7-mile Riverwalk and the Shipyard Shops along the riverfront, and the 2003 installation of a steel-rail trolley connecting the riverfront with the business area. Other cultural developments include a recent $12 million expansion of the Grand Opera House on Market Street, a $25 million expansion of the Delaware Art Museum on Grand Kentmere Parkway, and construction of Theatre N at Nemours, the first movie theater in the city since 1982.

Since the mid-1990s more than $1 billion, much of it in private funds, has been invested in major downtown redevelopment projects. The MBNA complex, after moving to downtown Wilmington in 1993 and undertaking a $32 million renovation of the former Daniel L. Herrmann Courthouse, now consists of seven buildings. In 2002 the huge former Delaware Trust Building, which had been destroyed by fire, was converted to the Residences at Rodney Square, a 278 unit luxury apartment complex.

Mayor James M. Baker, who took office in 2001, has seen positive developments in the city's ongoing fight with crime and blight. Overall crime rates have dropped, and the city has enforced stricter registration fees and building code violations on owners of vacant properties to encourage property rehabilitation.

Historical Information: Historical Society of Delaware Library, 505 Market Street Mall, Wilmington DE 19801; telephone (302)655-7171

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Wilmington: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

In 1976 the New Castle County School District was reorganized and divided into four separate districts: Brandywine, Red Clay Consolidated, Christina (the largest), and Colonial. Each district encompasses some part of Wilmington along with other suburban communities, and each elects a seven-member board of education to govern its elementary and secondary schools. The New Castle County Vo-Tech School District provides vocational training for area students. The Christina School District offers special programs for gifted students, fine arts classes in all secondary schools, special education, including the Delaware Autistic Program, and the State's school for visually-impaired and hearing-impaired persons.

In addition to the public school system, there are seven private and parochial high schools and 10 private and parochial primary and middle schools that vary from college preparatory to religious training.

The following is a summary of data regarding Wilmington's Christina school district as of the 20022003 school year.

Total enrollment: 19,605

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 20

junior high/middle schools: 3

senior high schools: 3

other: 2 (Delaware Autism Program; Delaware School for the Deaf

Student/teacher ratio: 15:1

Teacher salaries (2004)

minimum: $32,559

maximum: $71,295

Funding per pupil: $9,373

The other Wilmington districts are as follows: Brandywine district (10,102 students in 18 buildings); Christina district (19,000 students in 28 buildings); Red Clay Consolidated district (16,000 students in 23 buildings); and New Castle County VoTech (3,300 students in 3 buildings).

Colleges and Universities

Since the late 1990s five additional post-secondary institutions have established operations in downtown Wilmington. Much of this growth in post-secondary education in Wilmington was the result of an aggressive recruitment strategy by the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation, which called for the creation of a university campus district near Market Street. Together these efforts brought an additional 7,195 students to downtown Wilmington. Both Delaware State University and Drexel University have recently opened satellite campuses on Market Street. In addition, the Delaware College of Art and Design, Delaware's only professional art and design school, opened in 1997; and Springfield College also launched a center for human services near downtown. Other major accredited institutions in the Wilmington metropolitan region include the University of Delaware (Newark, DE); West Chester University of Pennsylvania (West Chester, PA); Widener University, with its Delaware Law School, the state's only law school (Chester, PA and downtown Wilmington campus); and Wilmington College and Golden-Beacom College (both in Wilmington).

Libraries and Research Centers

The Wilmington Institute Free Library system, consisting of the Wilmington, North Wilmington, Woodlawn, and La Biblioteca del Pueblo libraries, serves a population of 400,000 people and continues to expand in size, services offered, and collection of materials. Founded in 1788, the library houses more than 320,000 volumes, as well as a special collection of Delawareana, film and record collections, and an African American Collection of books, videos, and audio cassettes. Other public libraries include the Concord Pike, Kirkwood Highway, and Elsemere Public libraries.

Wilmington is also home to numerous special libraries. Among them are the Delaware Academy of Medicine's Lewis B. Flinn Library, devoted to consumer health; Delaware Art Museum Library; School of Law Library at Widener University; E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company Law Library; Hagley Museum and Library; and the Historical Society of Delaware Library. Research centers located in Wilmington include the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, a public-private partnership doing scientific research that is helping to develop Delaware's growing life sciences industry. In addition, five state-sponsored Advanced Technology Centers provide research and development in the areas of laser optics, semiconductors, and advanced materials. Alfred I. du Pont Institute of the Nemours Foundation performs research in pediatric orthopedics, cytogenetics, and microbial genetics. Delaware All-Sports Research performs and publishes research in sports medicine.

Public Library Information: Wilmington Institute Free Library, 10th and Market Streets, Wilmington, DE 19801; telephone (302)571-7400

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WILMINGTON , the largest city in Delaware, midway between New York and Washington, some 27 miles south of Philadelphia and 70 miles north of Baltimore. In 1995, 7,600 Jews, 56% of Delaware's Jews, lived in Wilmington and its suburbs. Since 1879, when Delaware's first Jewish organization, the Moses Montefiore Society, was formed, Wilmington has been the center of Jewish life in the state.

Central European and native-born Jews who came to Wilmington from neighboring American cities established the Moses Montefiore Society. Within a few years, eastern European Jews arrived in large numbers. In addition to working as tailors, shoemakers, milliners, and shopkeepers, many of them worked in Wilmington's expanding shipbuilding, railroad car and morocco plants as carpenters or unskilled laborers. The eastern Europeans quickly outnumbered the founders, but the groups worked together to build Wilmington's synagogues and agencies. (See *Delaware.) Given Wilmington's prosperity, the Jewish population grew quickly from 94 people in 1879 to nearly 4,000 by 1920.

Wilmington's moment of glory was the 1918 War Relief Campaign sponsored by the American Jewish Relief Committee. Recognizing the full extent of the suffering in Europe, the ajrc set a national goal of 30 million dollars, an unattainable goal for Jews alone. The agency chose Wilmington, which was known to have very good relations between the Jewish and general community, for an experimental appeal to non-Jews and assigned it a goal of $75,000. With the generosity of Wilmington's established leaders, Pierre duPont and members of the duPont family, Senator Willard J. Saulsbury, then president pro tem of the U.S. Senate, and Wilmington's industrial leaders, the campaign surpassed its goal and raised $125,000. Wilmington became known nationally as the model city of charity and good will, the place where the campaign became "not only a Jewish movement but a human movement."

During the World War i era, the most affluent members of the Jewish community moved north across the Brandywine River, but most Jews continued to live and work in the downtown area. They ran many of Wilmington's leading stores like J.M. Lazarus' Wilmington Dry Goods, Snellenburg's, Keil's, and Braunstein's. By the 1960s, 35% of Wilmington's Jews had moved to the suburbs; only 53% still lived in the city. To meet the new reality, community leaders closed the old Jewish Community Center and built a new one in northern New Castle County on Garden of Eden Road in 1969. Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth (Orthodox) and Temple Beth Emeth (Reform) also moved out of the downtown area in mid century. Beth Shalom (Conservative) was always north of the Brandywine River.

As Wilmington developed into a corporate capital and then a financial/banking center, many Jews found jobs in those fields as well as in other professions. In 1995, 55% of Wilmington's Jews had a four-year college degree or a graduate degree. The vast majority of Wilmington's Jews lived in the suburbs; few lived in the city. The total population of the city and suburbs had not increased much, from an estimated 7,200 Jews in 1962 to an estimated 7,600 in 1995. A multi-year expansion and renovation of the Garden of Eden Campus began in 2003 following a community wide campaign that raised more than 21 million dollars.

During the World War ii era, Jewish education became a community priority. The Jewish Federation of Delaware, which was formed in 1935, led a community effort to establish a United Hebrew School. Although the school closed after about 13 years, the focus on education continued. Wilmington Gratz Hebrew High School, a branch of the successful Philadelphia school, opened in 1965. Albert Einstein Academy, the state's only Jewish day school, began in 1970. The Florence Melton Mini School brought its adult education program to Wilmington in 2001.

At the end of the 20th century, 33.3% of Wilmington's Jews defined themselves as Conservative, 30% as Reform, 7.3% as Orthodox, 0.8% as Reconstructionist and 27.7% as Just Jewish.


Ukeles Associates, Inc., 1995 Jewish Population Study of Delaware, Summary Report; H. Bluestone, The Jewish Population of Northern Delaware1962A Demographic Study; H. Bluestone, A Historical Review of a Century of Jewish Education in Delaware, 18761976; Toni Young, Becoming American, Remaining Jewish: The Story of Wilmington, Delaware's First Jewish Community, 18791924 (1999); Toni Young (ed.), Delaware and the Jews (1979).

[Toni Young (2nd ed.)]

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Wilmington: Transportation

Approaching the City

More than 580 flights arrive daily at the Philadelphia International Airport, making Wilmington (25 minutes away) easy to reach by plane. Door-to-door limousine service is available to all parts of the city.

Located in the middle of the heavily traveled northeast corridor, Wilmington is also convenient to reach by car. Interstate 95, the major north-south route from Maine to Florida, cuts through the western portion of the city. The Wilmington Bypass, I-495, connects I-95 with downtown and offers easy access to the Port of Wilmington. Travelers arriving on the New Jersey Turnpike from points north cross the Delaware River and enter Wilmington on I-295. In addition to the interstate highway system, U.S. routes 13, 40, 41, and 202 allow access to the city. With the completion of limited access Delaware-1, central and south Delaware to the Maryland border are now connected to Interstate 95.

Wilmington's Amtrak Station provides passenger service with connections to all major points. Travelers arriving from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, D.C. can take the high speed Acela Express rapid metroliner as well as conventional Amtrak and SEPTA (commuter) trains. The station is a five-minute walk to downtown stores and hotels, and has facilities for both long-term and short-term parking. Currently more than 80 trains daily stop at the Amtrak Station.

Traveling in the City

Because of Wilmington's small size, residents enjoy minimal levels of traffic congestion, noise pollution, and smog. If they choose, they can drive from the heart of downtown to the open spaces of the "chateau country" in fifteen minutes. A number of well-traveled routes carry commuters to the central business district from the densely populated suburbs. Well over 10,000 parking spaces in the downtown area allow for easy access to offices, restaurants, shops, and entertainment centers. To promote individual and business use of carpooling, vanpooling and bus service, Delaware's Commuter Service Administration has developed a free, computerized matching service including auto-geo coding for more than 17,000 streets in New Castle County.

Another alternative for city residents is public transportation. The Delaware Authority for Regional Transit (DART) operates 63 bus routes serving northern Delaware, including Wilmington and Newark. The Delaware Authority for Specialized Transit (DAST) provides lift-equipped buses for the elderly and the handicapped. Engineering studies for running trolleys down Market Street to connect the Brandywine River to the Amtrak station and the Shipyard Shops are underway.

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Wilmington: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

One Wilmington-based daily newspaper, The News Journal, serves the state of Delaware. Other Wilmington publications include: Delaware Today, a general-interest monthly magazine; Big Shout Magazine, featuring entertainment information; The Dialog, published by the Catholic Press of Wilmington; Delaware Medical Journal ; and Out & About, an entertainment monthly.

Television and Radio

Two television stations originate in Wilmington, one of which is an educational affiliate of the Public Broadcasting System. Comcast Cable provides cable television service to greater Wilmington. Wilmington viewers receive most programs from stations located in Philadelphia and other cities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The same is true of radio broadcasts; the city is home to four AM stations and three FM stations, but is considered part of a market that also encompasses eastern Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) and northern New Jersey.

Media Information: The News Journal, 950 West Basin Road, New Castle, DE 19720; telephone (302)324-2500 or (800)235-9100

Wilmington Online

Brandywine School District. Available www.bsd.k12.de.us

Christina School District. Available www.christina.k12.de.us

City of Wilmington home page. Available www.ci.wilmington.de.us

Delaware Office of Economic Development. Available www.state.de.us/dedo

Delaware Online. Available www.delawareonline.com

New Castle County Economic Development Council. Available http://www.nccedc.com

New Castle County Online. Available www.newcastle comag.com

New Castle County VoTech. Available www.k12.de.us/nccvotech

Red Clay Consolidated School District. Available www.redclay.k12.de.us

School district statistics. Available www.doe.state.de.us/edstats/Menu/EdStats.htm

Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.wilmcvb.org

Wilmington Public Library. Available www.wilmlib.org

Selected Bibliography

Hoffecker, Carol E., Corporate Capital: Wilmington in the Twentieth Century. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983)

Lincoln, Anna T., Wilmington, Delaware: Three Centuries under Four Flags, 1609-1937 (Kennikat Press, 1977)

Thompson, Priscilla, and Sally O'Byrne, Wilmington's Waterfront (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 1999)

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Wilmington: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1990: 5,892,937(CMSA)

2000: 6,188,463 (CMSA)

Percent change, 19902000: 14.2%

U.S. rank in 1990: 5th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 6th (CMSA)

City Residents

1980: 70,195

1990: 71,529

2000: 72,664

2003 estimate: 72,051

Percent change, 19902000: 1.5%

U.S. rank in 1990: 311th (state rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 417th (state rank: 1st)

Density: 6,698 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 25,811

Black or African American: 41,001

American Indian and Alaska Native: 185

Asian: 473

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 20

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 7,148

Other: 3,750

Percent of residents born in state: 58.1% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 4,953

Population 5 to 9 years old: 5,424

Population 10 to 14 years old: 5,308

Population 15 to 19 years old: 5,105

Population 20 to 24 years old: 5,121

Population 25 to 34 years old: 11,906

Population 35 to 44 years old: 11,349

Population 45 to 54 years old: 8,861

Population 55 to 59 years old: 3,080

Population 60 to 64 years old: 2,434

Population 65 to 74 years old: 4,401

Population 75 to 84 years old: 3,411

Population 85 years and older: 1,311

Median age: 33.7 years

Births (2002)

Total number: 1,254

Deaths (2000)

Total number: 779

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $20,236

Median household income: $35,116

Total households: 28,661

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 4,444

$10,000 to $14,999: 2,132

$15,000 to $24,999: 3,886

$25,000 to $34,999: 3,825

$35,000 to $49,999: 4,610

$50,000 to $74,999: 4,605

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,373

$100,000 to $149,999: 1,792

$150,000 to $199,999: 390

$200,000 or more: 604

Percent of families below poverty level: 16.8% (43.1% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: not reported

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Wilmington: Introduction
Wilmington: Geography and Climate
Wilmington: History
Wilmington: Population Profile
Wilmington: Municipal Government
Wilmington: Economy
Wilmington: Education and Research
Wilmington: Health Care
Wilmington: Recreation
Wilmington: Convention Facilities
Wilmington: Transportation
Wilmington: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1638 (chartered 1739)

Head Official: Mayor James M. Baker (D) (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 70,195

1990: 71,529

2000: 72,664

2003 estimate: 72,051

Percent change, 19902000: 1.5%

U.S. rank in 1990: 311th (state rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 417th (state rank: 1st)

Metropolitan Area Population

1990: 5,892,937 (CMSA)

2000: 6,188,464 (CMSA)

Percent change, 19902000: 5%

U.S. rank in 1990: 5th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 6th (CMSA)

Area: 10.8 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Approximately 74 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 54.0° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 40.25 inches; 19.9 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade

Unemployment rate: 4.0% (November 2004)

Per Capita Income: $20,236 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: not reported

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Delaware, Widener University

Daily Newspaper: The News-Journal

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Wilmington: Geography and Climate

Wilmington is located in the northeast corner of Delaware, on the western bank of the Delaware River where the Christina River joins Brandywine Creek. The city is part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, which combines flat, low land at sea level with gentle, rolling hills that extend northward into Pennsylvania. The Delaware River forms the city's eastern border with the Atlantic Ocean beyond; Chesapeake Bay lies to the southwest. These large water masses determine the city's climate. Summers are warm and humid, and winters are generally mild. During the summer relative humidity is about 75 percent, and fog is frequent throughout the year. Average annual snowfall is 19.9 inches, but the snow never stays on the ground for more than a few days. Most winter precipitation falls as rain or sleet. Rainfall is heaviest in summer when it comes in the form of thunderstorms. Hurricanes moving northward along the Atlantic Coast occasionally cause heavy rainfall, but winds seldom reach hurricane force in Wilmington. Strong easterly and southeasterly winds sometimes cause high tides in the Delaware River, resulting in flooding of lowlands and damage to riverfront properties.

Area: 10.8 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Approximately 74 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 32.0° F; July, 76.0° F; annual average, 54.0° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 40.25 inches; 19.9 inches of snow