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Local History


About the town:

Welcome to a community blessed with a rich history and architectural heritage still evident in the homes and buildings along the wide tree-lined streets of Delaware City. Structures date back to the town’s earliest days in the 1820’s and help tell the story of its economic development. The Delaware City Historic District is one of the largest in the State of Delaware with more than 250 contributing structures!

Delaware City traces its origins to 1801 when the Newbold family from New Jersey purchased a tract of land that became known as Newbold’s Landing. The Newbold's drew plans for the town in 1826, with the expectation that it would eventually grow to rival Philadelphia as a Delaware River port and commercial center!

A stroll through Delaware City’s streets allows you to view some of the best examples of the important architectural styles beginning with the Federal style of the 1820’s and Delaware’s Italianate “Peach House” buildings of the 1850’s. The styles continue through the catalog mail order homes of the 1920’s. Each of these styles represents an important period in the town’s prosperity!

Delaware City has evolved through many periods of growth and decline and continues to be a thriving, living community for the people who work and reside within it’s bounds. At Battery Park, located along the Delaware River at the foot of Clinton Street, you are surrounded by a scenic panorama of the Delaware River, Pea Patch Island and the New Jersey shoreline!


About Fort Delaware:

Located on Pea Patch Island off Delaware City, pentagon-shaped Fort Delaware stands guard over the Delaware River. Today it is a popular state park and is reached by taking a pleasant ferry ride from Delaware City. It was an even busier place during the Civil War when it served as a prisoner-of-war camp for captured Confederate soldiers.

Pea Patch Island’s important strategic position for the defense of Wilmington and Philadelphia against naval attack was recognized in 1819 when the first fort was built on the island. Constructed of wood, this fort was destroyed by a fire in 1832. By 1848, the federal government appropriated funds to build a state-of-the-art coastal fortification. It is this fort that still exists today. The island fortress, combined with gun batteries at what is now Fort DuPont on the Delaware shore and at what is now Fort Mott, New Jersey, formed an imposing defensive system.

The fort is a massive structure made of granite and brick. The walls are up to 30 feet thick and stand 32 feet high. It was outfitted with the 19th Century’s most modern defenses including three tiers of guns. The fort is entered through the sally port after crossing the drawbridge over the 30-foot wide moat that surrounds the fort. 

Largely abandoned after the Civil War, the fort was modernized in 1896 by the addition of “disappearing” guns at the south end of the fort. A garrison was posted at the beginning of the Spanish-American War, which remained in place until 1905. The fort was again lightly manned during World War I and at the outset of World War II. But in 1943 the disappearing guns were cut-up for scrap to support the war effort. The fort was closed in 1944 and declared surplus property. It was turned over to the State of Delaware in 1947 and became a state park in 1951. During its entire history, Fort Delaware never fired a shot in anger.