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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Wilmington (Delaware)

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WILMINGTON, a city and port of entry of New Castle co., Delaware, the chief city of the state, at the confluence of Christiana and Brandywine creeks, 28 m. S. W. of Philadelphia; pop. in 1850, 13,979; in 1860, 21,258; in 1870, 30,841, of whom 5,152 were foreigners and 3,211 colored; in 1875, 39,750, or, including suburbs, about 42,500. The city is built principally upon the hilly ground between the creeks, which rises gradually from them on three sides to a height near the N. W. boundary of 243 ft. above tide water. The junction of the Christiana and Brandywine is about one mile above their united entrance into the Delaware, and half a mile below the built portion of the city, but within its boundaries, which now extend to the shore of the Delaware as well as beyond the other streams. The city is regularly laid out, with streets at right angles, the principal ones paved with stone, and all lined with brick sidewalks. The buildings are uniformly of brick, made of excellent clay underlying and surrounding the city. The public buildings are the city hall, the county almshouse, the custom house and post office, the Wilmington institute and public library, and the opera house. There are several handsome church edifices, including the Central and West Presbyterian and Grace (Methodist) churches, and the church of the Sacred Heart (German Catholic). The old Swedes church, a stone edifice erected in 1698, is still in a fair state of preservation. The city is supplied with excellent water from the Brandywine. The streets are lighted with gas and traversed by horse cars. In a distance of 4 m. terminating within the limits of the city the Brandywine falls 120 ft., affording great water power. On its banks are extensive flouring mills, celebrated powder mills, and numerous and large cotton, bleaching and dyeing, paper, and other mills. But the city is especially noted for the extent and variety of its manufactures by steam power, including carriages, morocco, cars, cotton goods, iron castings, iron steamships, plate, bar, and sheet iron, engines and boilers, a great variety of other articles of iron and steel, phosphates and sulphuric acid, wooden vessels, boots and shoes, leather, &c., and vulcanized fibre, the result of a chemical process for utilizing paper for various purposes in which leather, wood, and iron have heretofore been employed. Wilmington was the first place in the country where iron ship building was carried on, and it is still a leading seat of that industry. In the manufacture of passenger cars Wilmington ranks first in the country, while it is among the first in its annual production of morocco and carriages. The total amount of capital invested in manufactures in 1873 was $12,725,000; value of annual products, $21,150,000; number of hands employed, 7,000 to 8,000. The statistics of the principal branches were as follows:

BRANCHES. Capital. Value of
products.



Powder and chemicals  $1,400,000   $1,200,000 
Paper 1,100,000  1,200,000 
Cotton goods 1,000,000  1,100,000 
Railroad cars 800,000  2,000,000 
Iron ship building 750,000  1,200,000 
Machine work 1,300,000  2,200,000 
Morocco 750,000  1,750,000 
Carriages 800,000  1,400,000 
Flour, corn meal, &c. 400,000  1,200,000 
Leather, other than morocco 250,000  300,000 
Iron 750,000  1,300,000 
Foundery work and car wheels 400,000  2,000,000 
Tobacco, snuff, spices, parlor matches  475,000  700,000 
Sash, blinds, &c. 150,000  250,000 
Bricks 150,000  200,000 
Boots and shoes 100,000  150,000 
Fertilizers 250,000  500,000 

Wilmington lies directly in the great thoroughfare of travel and traffic between the north and south, of which the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore railroad forms so important a part. Railroad facilities are also afforded by the Delaware, the Wilmington and Reading, and the Wilmington and Western lines. Steamers run to Philadelphia and New York. The Christiana admits vessels drawing 18 ft. and the Brandywine those drawing 7 ft. to the head of tide. There is considerable trade by sailing vessels between the city and ports on the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies. There are four national banks and one state bank, with an aggregate capital of $1,250,000; two savings banks, deposits $750,000; three fire insurance companies; and 23 building and loan associations, which have greatly aided the growth of the city. The total assessed value of real estate in 1873 was $23,000,000, and the estimated value of personal property $18,500,000. The city has a police force, and a fire department provided with seven steam engines and improved apparatus. There are five charitable institutions. The city contains 17 public schools, including a high school, with nearly 6,000 pupils, and 16 private schools and academies. The Delaware historical society, the mechanics' institute, and the Wilmington institute have libraries, the last containing 11,500 volumes. Five daily and eight weekly newspapers are published. There are 45 churches, viz.: 5 Baptist, 8 Episcopal, 2 Friends', 1 Lutheran, 15 Methodist (7 African), 7 Presbyterian, 5 Roman Catholic, 1 Swedenborgian, and 1 Unitarian.—Wilmington was founded in 1732, when the site was partially laid out and the first house was erected. It was incorporated as a borongh in 1740, and as a city in 1832. On Christiana creek, about half a mile from the original town, but within the present city limits, is a small rocky promontory upon which the first Swedish colony in America landed in April, 1638, and around which was planted the first permanent European settlement in the valley of the Delaware.


AmCyc Wilmington (Delaware) - Old Swedes Church.jpg

The Old Swedes Church.