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New Castle is a city in New Castle Countymarker, Delawaremarker, six miles (10 km) south of Wilmingtonmarker, situated on the Delaware River, at the head of Delaware Baymarker. In 1900, 3,380 people lived here; in 1910, 3,351. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 4,836.


New Castle, Delaware, was originally settled by the Dutch West India Company in 1651, under Peter Stuyvesant on the site of a former Indian village, "Tomakonck" ("Place of the Beaver"). The original name of New Castle was Fort Casimir. This was changed to Fort Trinity (Swedish: Trefaldighet) following its capture by New Sweden on Trinity Sunday, 1654. After its recapture by the Dutch the following year, the name was changed to Nieuw Amstel. Under Sir Robert Carr, the British routed the Dutch in 1664 and changed the name to New Castle. The Dutch again seized the town in 1673 but it was returned to Great Britain the next year under the Treaty of Westminster. In 1680, it was conveyed to William Penn by the Duke of York and was Penn's landing place when he first set foot on American soil in 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 Linemarker.

The spire on top of the Court House — Delaware's Colonial capitol and first state house — was used as the center of the 12-mile circle forming the northern boundary of Delaware and part of the Mason-Dixon Line. 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.

The traditional Mason-Dixon line is actually west of the state, although all of Delaware's borders were established by this survey team. The line is the traditional dividing mark between the slave states of the south and the free states of the north. Delaware was a slave state, and voted with the south on all north/south issues. Delaware's northernmost county, New Castle, was more industrial and closely aligned with the north, while the southern two counties, Kent and Sussex, remained agricultural and based on slavery. During the Civil War, Delaware was a border state.

Prior to the establishment of Penn's Philadelphiamarker, New Castle was center of government. After being transferred to Penn, Delaware petitioned for a separate legislature, which was finally granted in 1702. New Castle again became the seat of the colonial government until the Revolution, when the besieged town moved governmental functions south to Dover. New Castle remained a county seat until after the Civil War. Two signers of the Declaration of Independence were from New Castle — Thomas McKean and George Read.

New Castle was the eastern terminus of the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad, the second oldest (1832) rail line in the country. It traversed the Delmarva Peninsulamarker, running to the Elk River, Maryland, from where passengers changed to packet boats for further travel to Baltimore and points south.

New Castle has a 83-year old tradition of home and garden tours. These tours are usually held on the third Saturday of May.

Cloud's Row, 117-125 Delaware Street in New Castle.

A sampling of noteworthy historic sites

  • Amstel House, 2 E. Fourth St. (~1738) Home of New Castle Historical Society (admission charged)
  • Stonummarker, the house of George Read.
  • Read House and Gardens at 42 the Strand, former home of George Read II. The house, built between 1801 and 1804, is owned and operated by the Delaware Historical Societymarker. It is one of finest examples of transitional Georgian/Federal architecture in America. (admission charged).
  • Booth House, 216 Delaware St. (~1730 but with many renovations since). Birthplace of Judge James Booth, Jr.
  • Gilpin House, 210 Delaware St. (One of town's oldest buildings, but three renovations over time have obscured original facade). It was built as the town's hotel/tavern and served as such until Prohibition in 1920. (In 1820 it was called "Arms of the United States"). Today it houses a bank and five apartments.
  • Immanuel Episcopal Church, on the Green. (1703)
  • Old New Castle Court Housemarker, opposite Gilpin House on Delaware St. Original colonial capitol; first state house of Delaware. Served as Court House until 1882, when county seat was moved to Wilmington.
  • Old "Dutch" House, (ca. 1700). Typical of small early dwellings in town. (admission charged)
  • New Castle Academy, On the Green. (1789)
  • The Arsenal, On the Green. (1809) Built when it became apparent there would be war with England, which came three years later. Has had numerous public uses since, as schoolhouse, hospital and finally as restaurant.
  • Thomas McKean House, 22 The Strand
  • Archibald Alexander House, 26-28 The Green, (~1800)
  • Van Leuvenigh House, S.E. corner Delaware St. & The Strand. (~1730),
  • Kensey Johns House, 1 Third St., (1789)
  • Town Hall & Market Place, Corner 2nd St. & Delaware St. (1826)
  • Gunning-Bedford House, 6 The Strand, (~1730)
  • New Castle-Frenchtown RR Ticket House, Foot of Delaware St. (1832)
  • Old Presbyterian Church, Opposite Old Town Hall, (1707)
  • Janvier House, 208 Delaware St., (~1800)
  • William Penn Guest House (ca. 1680) the oldest building in town, legend says when Penn first stepped foot on American soil, he walked to this house, where his friend and local magistrate lived, and spent the night.
  • Lesley Manor, 123 W 7th St. (1855/1870) Built in 1855 for Dr. Allen Voorhees Lesley. Designed by Thomas and James Dixon of Baltimore, MD, who also designed the Wilmington Opera House. Lesley had a large wing added in 1870 to allow the kitchens to be relocated from the basement. The now private residence features gothic bargeboards, large cast bronze gas chandeliers, and a 5 story tower.


New Castle is located at (39.664712, -75.565392)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/sq mi (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] the New Castle Public Library.

Notable residents

  • George Read I, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution lived in New Castle on the Strand. He was Governor of Delaware. Another Delaware Governor that resided in New Castle was Nicholas Van Dyke.


The city of New Castle is often referred to as "Old New Castle". Every year on the third Saturday in May, New Castle hosts 'A Day in Olde New Castle,' an open house in which many of the city's historic houses, churches, and public buildings are open to the public. Householders dress in colonial costumes and an admittance fee is collected which is toward the maintenance of the town's many historic buildings.


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