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What is the history of Wilmington, Delaware, USA?

People, Pictures, Old Postcards and Stories From the Past

Explore Wilmington, Delaware, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures and genealogy.
Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware, USA

"Wilmington, a port of entry, the capital of New Castle co., Del., is situated on the Delaware River, and on Brandy wine and Christiana Creeks, which unite 3 mile from the river. It is 28 miles S.W. of Philadelphia, and 70 miles E.N.E. of Baltimore. Lat. 39° 41' N.; lon. 75°28' or 30° W. It is on the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, and is the southern terminus of the Wilmington & Northern Railroad, which connects here with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Wilmington is the chief commercial and manufacturing centre of Delaware. It is built on three slopes of a hill, the summit of which is 240 feet above the level of tide-water and commands an extensive view of the Delaware River and of the city itself. The city is regularly planned, has wide and straight streets, and is generally well built of brick. The streets which are parallel to the Christiana are Water, Front, 2d, 3d, &c., up to 23d street, beyond Brandywine Creek. These are intersected at right angles by Market street, the principal thoroughfare of business, which extends the whole length of the city, and is about 2 miles long, including the bridges over Brandywine and Christiana Creeks. The streets which are parallel with Market street are designated by proper names, as King, Shipley, French, &c. The city contains 46 churches, namely, 9 Methodist, 8 Episcopal, 7 Presbyterian, 5 Baptist, 2 Friends', 6 Catholic, 1 German Lutheran, 1 Swedenborgian, 1 Unitarian, and 6 African. Grace church (Methodist) is a beautiful Gothic edifice of green serpentine. The Old Swedes' church of this place was built in 1698. Among the public buildings are a granite custom-house, a town hall, a large opera-house, a hospital, and the Wilmington Institute, a brick structure which contains a spacious hall, a scientific lecture-room, and an extensive library. The Clayton House is a commodious first-class hotel, built of fine brick and stone. Six daily and 10 weekly newspapers (I German) are published here. Wilmington contains also the Delaware State Normal University, founded in 1866, the Wesleyan Female College, the Rugby Academy (for boys), the Delaware Institute (for both sexes), several boarding-schools, 17 public schools, a home for aged women, many building and loan associations, 2 savings-banks, 4 national banks (the capital of which amounts to $1,013,185), and a state bank, which has a capital of $236,000. The streets, stores, and residences are lighted with gas and electricity, and the city is supplied with water from the Brandywine. It has an efficient fire department. Wilmington is by far the most important and populous town in the state. Its increase in population from 1880 to 1890 was 44.62 per cent. It is remarkable for its manufactures, of which the following are the most important products: iron steamboats, railway-cars, steam engines, machinery, powder, cotton goods, carriages, flour, morocco, leather, farming-implements, iron castings, woollen goods, locomotive- and car-springs, and parlor matches. Here are about 5 iron-foundries, 6 large machine-shops, 6 rolling-mills, 6 cotton-factories, several manufactories of woollen goods, 2 large saw-mills, and flour-mills on the Brandywine which grind 1,000,000 bushels of wheat in a year. According to the census of 1890, the aggregate cap ital employed in the reported industries of Wilmington was $15,652,246, and the total value of products $19,058,116. The powder-works of Dupont & Co., 2 miles from the city, have long been celebrated. Street-cars run from the Philadelphia & Baltimore depot via Market street and Delaware avenue to the N.W. extremity of the city. Steamboats ply daily between this place and Philadelphia. The Brandywine Creek near Wilmington flows through attractive scenery. Pop. in 1870, 30,841; in 1880, 42,478; in 1890, 61,431."

Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ...
Joseph Thomas
January 1, 1895
J.B. Lippincott


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  • 1638 - Swedes begin settlement in what is now Willmington, Delaware

    The World Almanac of the U.S.A, by Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse, 1996

  • 1698 - Among Delaware's many historic churches is Old Swedes Church and Hendrickson House Museum, in Wilmington, which has been in use since its completion in 1698.

    www.ereferencedesk.com/ resources/ state-facts/ delaware.html

  • 1802 - Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, a French immigrant, built the state's first gunpowder mill on Brandywine Creek near Wilmington in 1802. The Du Pont Company would eventually become the largest chemical company in the United States.

    www.ereferencedesk.com/ resources/ state-facts/ delaware.html

  • News 1847 - EXPLOSION AT WILMINGTON, DEL.
    Correspondence of the Pennsylvanian.
    Gazette Office, April 14, 1847.
    We regret to inform you of the terrible and heart-rending scene which occurred ...Read MORE...


  • News 1855 - POWDER MILL EXPLOSION AT WILMINGTON, DEL. - SIX PERSONS KILLED AND FIVE WOUNDED.
    Philadelphia, Friday, Aug. 3.
    Three of Gareshe's powder mills, near Wilmington, Del., exploded this morning, about 8 o'clock, with most disastrous...Read MORE...


  • News 1856 - Tornado
    AT WILMINGTON, DEL.
    Considerable damage was done by the heavy wind. One half of the roof was blown off the public school house in Washington street, ...Read MORE...


  • 1879 - December 13 - 1st federal fish hatching steamer lauched (Wilmington Delaware)

    historyorb.com

  • News 1886 - A TERRIBLE COLLISION ON THE WILMINGTON & NORTHWESTERN RAILROAD.
    Wilmington, Del., January 10. - Friday night's snow storm caused the most serious block on the railroad track here that has occurred for years,...Read MORE...


  • 1887 - Steel-hulled racing yacht built in Wilmington, The Volunteer, won America's Cup

    www.worldatlas.com/ webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ detimeln.htm

  • News 1890 - Dupont Powder Works Explosion
    PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 7. - The shock of the explosion at Wilmington this afternoon was plainly felt in many sections of this city. To those indoors it...Read MORE...


  • Wilmington, Delaware, USA
    Market Street looking North from Fourth Street Shopping District, Wilmington, Del.
  • Wilmington, Delaware, USA
    Court House
  • News 1907 - WHOLE FAMILY ASPHYXIATED. MAN, WIFE AND CHILD FOUND DEAD IN WILMINGTON, DEL.
    Wilmington, Del., Feb. 12. - MICHAEL RYAN, aged 35 years; his wife, MAMIE, aged 25, and their infant, MARY A., aged 4 months, who lived at 233...Read MORE...


  • 1907 - December 9 - 1st Christmas Seals sold (Wilmington Del post office)

    historyorb.com

  • News 1925 - THEATER RIGGING LOFT COLLAPSES; 12 INJURED. SEVERAL MEMBERS OF CHORUS HURT WHEN PIECES OF MASONRY, SCENERY AND LIGHTS BEGIN TO FALL WITH ROAR LIKE AN EXPLOSION
    PANIC AMONG AUDIENCE PROBABLY AVERTED WHEN MEMBER OF CAST APPEARS ON STAGE AND BEGINS TO SING.

    Wilmington, Del., Dec. 11. - (AP) - The roof of the ...Read MORE...


  • Wilmington, Delaware, USA
    Hotel Rodney, Market St., Wilmington, Del.
  • News 1939 - October 24 – Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time anywhere in Wilmington, Delaware.

    www.wikipedia.org
    October 24, 1939

  • 1940 - September 29 - 1st US merchant ship "Booker T. Washington" commanded by a black captain (Hugh Mulzac), launched at Wilmington Delaware

    historyorb.com

  • 1957 - July 17 - On a warm and sunny day at Wilmington, DE, with a high of 86 degrees, a dust devil suddenly appeared.
    It tore most the roof off one house, and stripped shingles from a neighboring house. A TV aerial was toppled, and clothes were blown off clothes...Read MORE...




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Updated: 5/17/2019 10:05:14 AM

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