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Delaware City


Delaware City Hall is located at 407 Clinton Street, Delaware City DE 19706; phone: 302-834-4573.

Beginnings [1]

Delaware City was laid out in 1826, displaying significant development through 1930. The town was envisioned by its backers as a place that would develop into a major shipping and trading point for traffic that passed along this trans-peninsular trade route, and so, its early plans were based on the completion of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Through the nineteenth century, Delaware City profited from activities that centered around the canal, but by the end of the century canal traffic waned as the railroads expanded their lines. Delaware City was the only stopping point on the canal in Delaware. At the western terminus in Maryland, Chesapeake City served a similar function.

In 1675 Edmund Andros, Governor of the Duke of York's territories in America, granted to Henry Ward, Justice of the Peace, a large tract of land that included most of the present day area of Delaware City. This land remained in the possession of Ward's family for the next 125 years, however, it is not known what kind of settlement, if any, occurred during their ownership. In 1801 Henry Ward Pearce sold the tract to John, Clayton and Barzillia Newbold of neighboring New Jersey.

John acquired the part of this tract that would later be Delaware City. A land speculator, John Newbold, built a wharf on his land immediately after purchasing it. The wharf became a center for grain shipping and trading, lending this spot the name "Newbold's Landing." When they realized that the eastern terminus of the proposed Chesapeake and Delaware Canal would be located at the wharf, Newbold's sons, Daniel and William, plotted a town at Newbold's Landing in 1826 and named it Delaware City. Given its strategic location at the junction of the canal and the Delaware River, it was thought that Delaware City would soon rival Philadelphia as a trade and commercial center.

  1. Valerie Cesna, New Castle County Department of Planning, Delaware City Historic District, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D. C.
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