Pictorial wilmington


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Pictorial wilmington

  1. 1. From Eliz. Montgomery, Reminiscences of Wilmington, 1851:<br />In giving you a description of this pretty little town, as I have chosen to call it, I may indulge a little, yet shine to keep to the truth: hoping that ere long, you may come here and see these things are really so.<br />The history of the City of Wilmington begins with the arrival of the first European settlers in March 1638. They came in two ships- the Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckle- a small number of soldiers, colonists and provisions making up a tiny, yet significant beginning. The Swedish colony was short lived. In 1654 Peter Stuvyesant captured the fort, setting up New Amsterdam. Ten years later, in 1664- the English captured the fort. Throughout all the turn-overs and upheavals, the farmers remained on their small farms, making a living and making a home. Pastor, Erick Bjork helped the tiny congregation, from what we know today as Old Swedes Church<br />In 1681 Charles II granted Pennsylvania to William Penn, and shortly afterwards, the king’s brother, James, the Duke of York added Delaware to Penn’s lands. A combination of religious persecution and the desire for a more prosperous living brought English Quakers to settle in the Delaware Valley.<br />The city was planned by Thomas Willing, a Quaker in 1731, copied from the grid plan of Philadelphia. The impetus for growth came from a group of Quaker millers and traders. Eliz. Shipley’s dream- according to legend, Eliz. Had a dream of a beautiful place where three rivers flowed together. She traveled to DE occasionally to witness- found the area of dream and convinced her husband, William of the potential of the place. In 1735 he purchased extensive property and moved his family here. <br />Her dream explained to her:<br />Delaware River- navigable to large cities, overseas<br />Christina River- navigable several miles inland<br />Brandywine River- fast falling, great for water power, milling<br />Beginning in 1740 a number of millers moved to the banks of the Brandywine- built over a dozen mills on either side of the stream at what we now know as Brandywine Village. <br />Brandywine Village remained separate from the city until 1869 geographically, but was an integral part fo the city economy life and economy- mills brought wheat and corn trade, came from the country, Lancaster and DaE counties in PA and shallops from downstate and NJ<br />Early on, a controversy between different groups of citizens about market houses erupted. The fracas (and it was even physical) demonstrated the need for a municipal government. Wilmington was granted a charter in 1739, the name Wilmington was decided upon, burgesses were elected who were responsible for keeping markets and maintaining safety and order. Their first meeting was in 1740. OTH build in 1798.<br />At the time of the Revolution, our mills were among the most important in the country. When the British attacked Philadelphia in 1777, the mills were among their objectives and Br, troops did occupy Wilmington briefly. <br />In the 1780s the population of the city was 1230. By the close of the War of 1812, there were 750 houses, 9 places of worship, 1 academy and 21 schools, 14 mills and the population has risen to 4400. <br />By 1840s, 10,000 residents, milling shipbuilding and sailing were major industries. The town encompassed the street from West to Walnut from the Christina to the Brandywine rivers. How/why the large increase?<br />Well, in large part due to the fact that in 1800 Eleuthere Irenee DuPont emigrated here from France and established a black powder mill on the B R in 1802 using the latest technology- became the largest powder mills in the U.S.<br />Downstream, Joseph Bancroft built textile mills in the 1830s, both companies were family controlled for generations, both paternalistic (housing, etc.) and both produced philanthropists whose benefactions were important to the development of Wilmington. Wm. Bancroft, for example was the founder of th Wilmington Park System and donated land for Rockford Park<br />The railroad also provided impetus for industrialization. The PWB came through the city in 1837, following the west bank of the DE R. A narrow strip of land separating rails from the river became prime real estate for foundaries and plants building cars, boilers, steamboats and yachts. By the 1860s, Wilmington’s largest employers were all located there.<br />Harlan and Hollingsworth: 43 acres at the foot of West Street built iron ships and RR equipment<br />Pusey and Jones- Walnut Street, built calendar rolls for papermills, riverboats for Amazon ferries and American riverboats<br />Lobdell Car Wheel Foundry- largest of its kind in the country, produced iron wheels<br />Jackson and Sharp in the shadow of Old Swedes Church, built RR cars for transcontinental railroads in Europe, South America and the US<br />These industries brought many changes to Wilm The city’s population increased more than 45% in each decade between 1840-1890. Farmers both white and African American moved from southern DE, MD, PA, Immigrants from Ireland, England and Germany, also some Eastern Europeans.<br />Ethnic neighborhoods developed: low lying area near the Christina Riverfront was where most settled, close to work, rows of 2-3 story row-houses for workers and their families.<br />1864 Joshua Heald, a land developer opened the city’s 1st horse car line- ran up Market Street from the RR station out Delaware Avenue- this is where the most fashionable neighborhoods were built- large, gracious homes with stained glass windows, asymmetrical architectural details, elaborate brickwork<br />1870s- Wilmington was a hodgepodge of colonial houses and modern commercial buildings—Clayton House (1851) and the Grand (1871) are among the most notable of the large, purpose built buildings still standing, although a building boom of banks all between 6th Street and the Christina River changed the landscape<br />1880s the trolley car era began, electric cars were introduced then- sparks flying- great speed, great interest. Sparked residential development in 1890s to the north and west- Bellefonte and Elsmere. These trolley car suburb homes offered front and rear yards.<br />With great growth- residential services lacking- in 1887 only 5 miles of sewer lines- surface drainage was the rule and not until 1890s did city begin laying sewers and paving streets.<br />City- blue collar, ethnically mixed, many skilled workers- molders, carpenter, painters, machinists<br />Largest religious groups Methodists, Roman Catholics- built churches and maintained ethnic flavor. The descendents of the Quakers were often upper class leadership for community’s cultural and charitable institutions.<br />Market Street complemented the city’s work a day air, many retailers were in remodeled houses, hotels were small and there was a distinctly 2nd rate feeling for some compared to the big cities of NY, Balti and Philadelphia. Local shop owner complained that folks went to the big cities for their biggest purchases.<br />Still, Wilmington was a comfortable place where many felt at home and contented.<br />The shift of focus on Market Street was moving north. Banks began to relocate above 6th Street, the GOH and Clayton House remained the big deals.<br />In 1902 a monumental change occurred downtown. In that year, the DuPont Company changed in a way destined to re-make downtown. Ownership fell to three cousins, Alfred, Pierre S. and T. Coleman. Under their leadership the company began to accumulate with a desire to create a monopoly and become thoroughly modern. Far more efficient and better organized, company offices were moved into a new, 12-story office building, located at the highest point in the city. In 1908 the building opened and a first rate hotel, theater and ballroom followed. <br />1911- DuPont lost an anti-trust suit- creating Hercules and Atlas. In 1914 T. Coleman caused trouble in the family by selling stock to a syndicated headed by Pierre- Alfred felt spurned and a serious rift resulted in the family. Both factions: had political ambitionshad newspaper had banks<br /> <br />Still, the company thrived, becoming more successful. During WWI in a single year, the company profited $82 million- pre war the co had been valued at $12 million. <br />Pierre guided the company to diversity- first to related explosives then to pants, cellophane and finally to Nylon and fibers. Another day for that story.<br />During WWI- City county building opened and old court house demolished in 1919. C.R. Statue cost $30,000<br />New housing- company executives and white collar workers. Following the war, the old industries like leather industry, railroad car makers and foundaries dried up. <br />Depression- Wilmington hardest hit in state, but buoyed by local philanthropy and family and friends. WWII would revive the old industries and both African-American and white workers from rural neighboring areas flooded to city for work. <br />WDG! <br />Following WWII- some see as the beginning to the decline to downtown- suburbs took growth, $$ out of the city. Shopping centers, malls began to open up in county, <br />1960s, riots- final nail in the coffin for some. Revival of interest in 1970s. Rebirth of LOMA.<br />Final images of the city- too good not to share.<br />