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The most populated city in Delaware, Wilmington was originally founded at the former location of Fort Christina, which was the first settling of Swedes in the continent. It is located at the meeting of the Brandywine River and the Christina River, close to where the latter empties into nearby Delaware River.
The county seat of New Castle, Wilmington is also among the most important cities of the Delaware Valley metro. Its name comes from Spencer Compton, who was the Earl of Wilmington and prime minister for George II.
Flag of Wilmington, Delaware
The 2017 Census estimates Wilmington’s population at just over 72,000. It’s the fifth least populated city in the country to have the largest population in the state. The Wilmington metro is made up of Salem County (in New Jersey), Cecil County (in Maryland), and New Castle County (in Delaware), with an estimated population of almost 720,000. The Delaware Valley (including Camden and Philly has an estimated population exceeding 6 million.
Wilmington’s total area is 17 square miles, of which almost 11 are land and the remaining are water. The city is located at the meeting of the Delaware and Christina Rivers, with Philadelphia to the nearby northeast.
The Wilmington Train Station, among the final southbound stops of Philadelphia’s SEPTA train, also receives passenger transports of the Northeast Corridor Amtrak. Within city limits are Interstates 95 and 495, and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, located south of the city, connects Delaware to New Jersey, and helps carry the 295 bypass route to Philadelphia and Wilmington, and continues east into New Jersey.
Thanks to these transportation link and its geographic proximity, Wilmington has been characterized sometimes as Philadelphia’s satellite. But due to its history as Delaware’s main city, its value for business and its urban core, it’s more proper to consider it a city of its own growing in the shadow of the Philly metro.
The city is located on the Fall Line Geological transition, a region of land that stretches all the way from the Atlantic Coastal Plain down to the to the Mid-Atlantic Piedmont Plateau. On the east side of Wilmington’s Market Street, and straddling the Christina River, nearby marsh lands lie low and flat. The Delaware River provides sea-access to ships bound for the Atlantic.
Along Market Street to the west, the rocky hills roll until they rise to a natural landmark that helps divide the Christina and Brandywine River watersheds.
The contrast in the soil conditions and topography changed the development patterns of Wilmington. The west side has historically attracted more development of residential areas and offers better air quality, fewer mosquitoes and sites for mills and springs.