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New Castle is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, six miles (10 km) south of Wilmington, situated on the Delaware River. In 1900, 3,380 people lived here; in 1910, 3,351. According to the 2010 Census, the population of the city is 5,285.
New Castle was originally settled by the Dutch West India Company in 1651, under the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant, on the site of a former aboriginal village, "Tomakonck" ("Place of the Beaver"), to assert their claim to the area based on a prior agreement with the aboriginal inhabitants of the area. The Dutch originally named the settlement Fort Casimir, but this was changed to Fort Trinity (Swedish: Trefaldighet) following its seizure by the colony of New Sweden on Trinity Sunday, 1654. The Dutch conquered the entire colony of New Sweden the following year and rechristened the fort Nieuw-Amstel ("New Amstel"). This marked the end of the Swedish colony in Delaware as an official entity, but it remained a semi-autonomous unit within the New Netherland colony and the cultural, social, and religious influence of the Swedish settlers remained strong. As the settlement grew, Dutch authorities laid out a grid of streets and established the town common (The "Green"), which continue to this day.
In 1664, the English seized the entire New Netherland colony in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. They changed the name of the town to "New Castle" and made it the capital of their Delaware Colony. The Dutch regained the town in 1673 during the Third Anglo-Dutch War but it was returned to Great Britain the next year under the Treaty of Westminster. In 1680, New Castle was conveyed to William Penn by the Duke of York by livery of seisin and was Penn's landing place when he first set foot on American soil on October 27, 1682. This transfer to Penn was contested by Lord Baltimore and the boundary dispute was not resolved until the survey conducted by Mason and Dixon, now famed in history as the Mason–Dixon line.
The spire on top of the Court House, Delaware's colonial capitol and first state house, was used as the center of the Twelve-Mile Circle forming the northern boundary of Delaware. The Delaware River within this radius to the low water mark on the opposite shore is part of Delaware. Thus the Delaware Memorial Bridge was built as an intrastate span by Delaware, without financial participation by neighboring New Jersey.
Prior to the establishment of Penn's Philadelphia, New Castle was a center of government. After being transferred to Penn, Delaware's Swedish, Dutch, and English residents used to the relaxed culture of the Restoration monarchy grew uncomfortable with the more conservative Quaker influence, so Delaware petitioned for a separate legislature, which was finally granted in 1702. Delaware formally broke from Pennsylvania in 1704. New Castle again became the seat of the colonial government, thriving with the various judges and lawyers that fueled the economy. Many smaller houses were torn down and replaced in this era. In February 1777, John McKinly was elected the first President of Delaware (a title later renamed "Governor"). During the Revolution, when New Castle was besieged by William Howe, the government elected to move its functions south to Dover in May 1777. McKinley was captured by the British and held prisoner for several months. New Castle remained the county seat until after the Civil War, when that status was transferred to Wilmington. Three signers of the Declaration of Independence were from New Castle—Thomas McKean, George Read, and George Ross.
The 16-mile (26 km) portage between the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay saved a 400-mile (640 km) trip around the Delmarva Peninsula, so this brought passengers, goods, and business to New Castle's port. In the years following the Revolution, a turnpike was built to facilitate travel between the two major waterways. Later, New Castle became the eastern terminus of the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad, the second-oldest rail line in the country, launched in 1828 with horse-drawn rail cars, then converting to steam power when an engine was purchased from Great Britain in 1832. The line traversed the Delmarva Peninsula, running to the Elk River, Maryland, from where passengers changed to packet boats for further travel to Baltimore and points south. This helped the New Castle economy to further boom; however, by 1840, rail lines were in place between Philadelphia and Baltimore, which had a stop in Wilmington, thus leaving New Castle to deal with a substantial decline in traffic and revenue.
The decline in New Castle's economy had the long-range fortunate effect of preventing most residents from making any significant structural changes to their homes. So, the many buildings of historic New Castle look much as they did in the colonial and Federal periods.
New Castle has a tradition, dating back to 1927, of tours of historical homes, churches, and gardens. These tours, called "A Day in Olde New Castle", are usually held on the third Saturday of May. Householders dress in colonial costumes and an admittance fee is collected which is used toward the maintenance of the town's many historic buildings. In June the town holds its annual Separation Day celebration.
On April 28, 1961, an F3 tornado hit the north side. Although no fatalities or injuries occurred, it was the only tornado of this magnitude ever recorded in Delaware.
In the City of New Castle, many small and historical neighborhoods are within the city limits. However, many larger neighborhoods are surrounding the city limits and are labeled as New Castle within the general consensus. The New Castle area ranges from the southern city limits of Wilmington to the north, the Delaware River to the East, Wrangle Hill Road to the South, and Bear and Christiana to the West.
City of New Castle
The New Castle Historic District is an area approximately 4 by 5 blocks square in the center of town with about 500 historic buildings that date from c. 1700 to 1940. This area contains one of the highest concentrations of well-preserved buildings dating from the 17th to early 19th centuries. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1967.
The historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and it was relisted, with enlarged boundaries and expanded period of significance, in 1984. The historic district then covered 135 acres (55 ha) of area and includes Amstel House and Old Courthouse which are separately listed on the NRHP. The area includes 461 contributing buildings, one other contributing structure, and one contributing object.
The New Castle Court House, the Green, and the Sheriff's House are parts of First State National Historical Park , a unit of the National Park System. The national park interprets Delaware's settlement and role in the founding of the United States.
Among the structures located in the Historic District are:
The Bellanca Airfield, located outside of the Historic District, is the site of the former Bellanca Aircraft Corporation factory (1928–1960) which built over 3,000 airplanes. Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Museum is located in hangar. Also nearby are Buena Vista, Glebe House, The Hermitage, New Castle Ice Piers, Penn Farm of the Trustees of the New Castle Common, and Swanwyck, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
New Castle is located at 39°39′43″N 75°33′59″W (39.6620572, −75.5663132)GR1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.2 km²), of which, 3.0 square miles (7.9 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (3.79%) is water.
This city is the home of Broad Dyke, the first dyke built in the United States.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,862 people, 2,012 households, and 1,339 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,594.6 people per square mile (615.5/km²). There were 2,199 housing units at an average density of 721.2 per square mile (278.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.48% White, 20.20% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.84% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.41% of the population.
There were 2,012 households out of which 26.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.4% were non-families. 27.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city, the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 27.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $52,449, and the median income for a family was $56,368. Males had a median income of $40,153 versus $31,571 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,052. About 3.9% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.8% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.
New Castle is served by the Colonial School District and the New Castle Public Library. Private schools located in New Castle include Serviam Girls Academy and Tall Oaks Classical School.
Delaware Route 9 runs southwest-to-northeast through New Castle, passing through the city along 7th Street, Washington Street, Delaware Street, and Ferry Cut Off Street; the route bypasses the historic area. DE 9 heads north to Wilmington and south to Delaware City. Delaware Route 141 heads north from New Castle on Basin Road and provides a bypass to the west of Wilmington. Delaware Route 273 heads west from New Castle on Frenchtown Road and provides access to Christiana and Newark. Several important roads are located just outside the city limits. U.S. Route 13 and U.S. Route 40 pass northwest of New Castle along Dupont Highway, with access to the city via DE 141 and DE 273. Interstate 295 passes north of New Castle and crosses the Delaware River on the Delaware Memorial Bridge to New Jersey, with DE 9 providing access to New Castle from I-295.
The Wilmington Airport (formerly New Castle Airport) is located northwest of New Castle along US 13/US 40. The airport offers general aviation and formerly had commercial air service. The nearest airport to New Castle with commercial air service is the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia.
A freight line operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway passes through New Castle. The nearest passenger rail station to New Castle is Wilmington station in Wilmington, which is served by Amtrak and SEPTA Regional Rail's Wilmington/Newark Line.
DART First State provides bus service to New Castle along Route 15, which runs between downtown Wilmington and the Christiana Mall and offers connections to multiple bus routes serving points across northern New Castle County.
The Municipal Services Commission of the City of New Castle provides electricity and water to the city. The electric department is a member of the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation. Natural gas service in New Castle is provided by Delmarva Power, a subsidiary of Exelon. The city's Public Works department provides trash and recycling collection to New Castle.
New Castle has served as the filming location for numerous films and television series, including Dead Poets Society, Beloved, and River Ridge.
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