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In the Neighborhood

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Page 2: Trolley Square
Page 3: The Highlands
Page 4: Forty Acres
Page 5: Midtown Brandywine
Page 6: Quaker Hill
Page 7: Trinity Vicinity
Page 8: Cool Spring
Page 9: The Triangle
Page 10: Brandywine Village
Page 11: Wawaset Park
Page 12: The Riverfront


What is more important: the sum or the parts? Even before he took office in 2001, Wilmington Mayor James Baker thought about that quite a bit. He knew he wanted his city to grow, but he also knew he wanted Wilmington to hold onto one of the characteristics that made it so unique—it’s rich and diverse neighborhoods. To be sure, this would prove challenging, but true neighborhoods are among Wilmington’s most enduring assets. Here are some of the best.
 

Wilmington's Little Italy maintains a strong connection to its roots. Photo by Karen KuderLittle Italy

Many urban communities in the United States find their origins in a commonality of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and Little Italy is no different.

Though Wilmington has changed significantly since the first immigrants established their neighborhood a century ago, the community has maintained a strong connection to its roots.

Surrounding Lincoln and Union streets from Pennsylvania Avenue to Fourth Street, Little Italy is home to many institutions dear to its residents, such as St. Anthony of Padua Church, the West End Neighborhood House, St. Francis Hospital and the Prince of Piedmont Club. Little Italy is a destination not only for Wilmington residents, but many others in the tri-state region.

On Saturday mornings in spring and summer, from 8 a.m. to noon, shoppers can browse the Little Italy Farmers Market for fresh produce from Delaware growers, as well as handmade candles, glassware and jewelry.

Another cultural cornerstone of this affordable and family-oriented neighborhood is the annual St. Anthony of Padua Italian Festival, an eight-day celebration that has taken place since 1959, starting on the second Sunday of June.

“Everyone becomes a little Italian for a week,” says Jeanne Guaraldo, chair of the cultural committee. “The goal is to create a true Italian experience for those who haven’t had the chance to visit Italy or to recreate that experience for the ones of Italian heritage.”

Whether you’re craving a fine meal in a cozy place like Luigi Vitrone’s Pastabilities, looking for some homemade cannoli at Papa’s Pastry Shop, or watching as a new mural is painted at 1025 N. Union St. this spring, Little Italy is the place for you.

Page 2: Trolley Square

 

With its affordable row homes and happening social scene, Trolley Square has been a desirable neighborhood for many years. Photo by Amanda WaidTrolley Square

Considered by many young people to be the primary destination for a night out on the town, Trolley Square is at the heart of Wilmington’s social scene.

In 1864, the Wilmington City Railroad Company opened the city’s first trolley line, which ran from Delaware Avenue to Rising Sun Lane. The Middle Depot was at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Dupont Street, which now is a shopping and office complex that has become the center of a vibrant neighborhood that borders the beautiful Brandywine Park.

“Trolley Square is a very interesting place,” says John Rago, 
director of communications and policy development for the city. “There is a nice mix of residents who have been here for many years, as well as an influx of younger renters and families.”

With its tree-lined streets, affordable row homes, beautiful brick sidewalks, nightspots, and every service one needs from day to day within easy walking distance, Trolley Square has been a desirable neighborhood for many years.

“The young people like to socialize. They like the nightlife. That’s all present right around Trolley Square,” says Rago. “You have bars, restaurants, boutiques, clubs. It’s the place to be.”

One of Trolley Square’s most notable watering holes is Kelly’s Logan House, an Irish pub at 1701 Delaware Ave. Established in 1864, the bar and restaurant is one of the oldest on the East Coast.

Page 3: The Highlands

 

The Highlands

Two words seem to come to everyone’s mind when they think of The Highlands: Rockford Park. More than 100 acres of green crowned by historic Rockford Tower, the park remains one of the most attractive aspects of this neighborhood. With a host of outdoor activities, the surrounding Highlands neighborhood is an ideal place for the city dweller that needs a touch of nature.

The neighborhood is characterized by large, unique single-family homes—some a century old—that make up the most exclusive neighborhood in the city, a quiet enclave of broad, lightly traveled streets shaded by mature trees, as well as a few historic churches. The Highlands stretch north along Bancroft Parkway between Brandywine Creek to Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I think the Highlands area is probably the best in the city,” says Denise Milford. Milford has lived in the neighborhood for 13 years and often jogs the perimeter of Rockford in the morning. “A lot of the homes have been renovated and are just beautiful. A lot of them have large lots, too. It’s just a great neighborhood setting.”

Just below the park is another feather in The Highlands’ cap: The Delaware Art Museum on Bancroft.

Page 4: Forty Acres

 

Forty Acres

One of Wilmington’s most desirable residential neighborhoods, Forty Acres bridges The Highlands and Trolley Square. Historically identified with its Irish heritage, Forty Acres consists mostly of historic row homes and brick walks, though it does boast a few boutiques on Delaware Avenue.

It was first settled in the late 1800s and got its name because it was said that before the land was developed, one acre here could yield as much produce as one would get from 40 acres somewhere else in Delaware.

Now it’s filled with young families who are attracted to the neighborhood feeling.  The shopping and services of Trolley Square are mere blocks away, as are Brandywine and Rockford parks.

Page 5: Midtown Brandywine

 

Midtown Brandywine

This neighborhood slopes from Center City down to Brandywine Park, and many have called it a little island of charm. Mature sycamores tower over brick walks, and some very hip restaurants and shops can be found on the bordering Washington Street.

“This is just a beautiful little community nestled between the downtown district and the Brandywine Creek,” says Rago. “It’s known for its neighborliness, its community atmosphere. And it’s also very convenient for people who work downtown and want to walk to work.”

The Old World splendor of nearby Brandywine Park alone would be enough to entice anyone to take up residence here, but the appeal of Midtown Brandywine doesn’t stop there. Many local artists hail from this neighborhood—with such surrounding scenery, it’s easy to see why—and the Brandywine Zoo is another favorite of families and day-trippers.

“This has been a stable neighborhood for years now,” says Rago. “Its reputation as a nice place to live is solid.”

Page 6: Quaker Hill

 

Quaker Hill

Kissing the edge of Center City is this quaint, tight-knit neighborhood, which is as steeped in history as any other on the East Coast. A key stop on the Underground Railroad, Quaker Hill is the oldest neighborhood in Wilmington. The delightful Colonial homes that line the streets are among the state’s oldest.

“This is where the renovation movement really started sometime in the 1990s,” says Rago. “Now you see these glorious homes that have been completely renovated, and it’s just beautiful.”

According to the Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Foundation, merchant William Shipley settled Quaker Hill in 1738. In 1739 the Shipleys and other Quaker merchants and millers built the first Wilmington Friends Meeting House. A new building had to be constructed soon after to accommodate the increased population, so the original meeting house was turned into the first Friends School. A third meeting house was built in 1816. It still stands on a small island of green at Fifth and West streets, an active place of worship and a gathering place for the community.

If you find yourself wandering Quaker Hill’s historic streets, make sure to pay a visit to the grave of abolitionist Tom Garrett. When you’re done there, head to the Riverfront or Market Street. Both are within easy walking distance.

Page 7: Trinity Vicinity

 

Trinity Vicinity offers quick access to downtown and to I-95.Trinity Vicinity

In the 1960s, construction of I-95 separated Trinity Vicinity from the neighboring Cool Spring. Though the development could have destroyed the area’s Victorian character, Trinity Vicinity held strong.

“Trinity Vicinity was one of those neighborhoods that began to become abandoned when people started fleeing the cities for the suburbs,” says Rago. “But people started moving back, realizing they didn’t want to abandon these historic properties”

This ethnically diverse stretch of endearing Queen Annes and row homes remains one of Wilmington’s more affordable communities. And with such close proximity to downtown, a revival of its cultural influence is thought to be imminent. What was once considered a possible threat is now an asset, as quick access to I-95 is ideal for commuters who call Trinity Vicinity home.

Page 8: Cool Spring

 

Cool Spring

Right across I-95 from Trinity Vicinity is Cool Spring, another historic community that saw some decline during the residential flight of the 1970s and 1980s, but one that has since experienced a noteworthy revival.

Taking its name from the freshwater reservoir that serves much of Wilmington’s east side, Cool Spring is a cornerstone of the city’s success. Construction is progressing rapidly on a new 7.5-acre park that will cover the recently enclosed reservoir. The new reservoir and park represent a $22.1 million public works project that is the largest in the city’s history.

When completed in the summer, the park will feature a pond, a circular lighted path, and a lush, grassy field. The new park will be connected to the existing Cool Spring Park by a grand staircase. The two parks will cover 12.5 acres that span Jackson and Franklin streets from 10th Street to Park Place.

Cool Spring is also home to both Ursuline and Padua academies, private all-girls schools that are among the best in the state.

“Cool Spring has done a lot recently to invest in the arts in order to make it a vibrant part of the community,” says Rago. “And we’re all very excited about the new park.”

Page 9: The Triangle

 

The Triangle

Shh. Do you hear that? Exactly. That’s silence, the soundtrack of The Triangle neighborhood.

Life is a family affair here, with lots of residential quietude and beautifully landscaped gardens. Designed in the late 1800s, the Triangle, defined by Baynard Boulevard, was meant to be Wilmington’s first suburb. You can feel it immediately after crossing into the neighborhood from downtown on the Washington Street Bridge.

Bordered by Brandywine Creek, the Triangle is home to some of the most breathtaking homes in the city. Trees are everywhere, homes have yards, and housing prices are reasonable. Evidence of Triangle’s family focus can be seen in the new children’s playground in Brandywine Park, which neighborhood residents raised the money for.

Page 10: Brandywine Village

 

Brandywine Village

If you’re looking for poetic vistas and architectural time portals, this is the place to be. Located on the north bank of its namesake creek, the neighborhood is framed by the beauty of the surrounding valley. One of Brandywine Village’s most notable features is the row of recently renovated historic homes on North Market Street, as well as several Gothic revival and Georgian structures.

Once a milling center and cornerstone of Wilmington’s industrial base, Brandywine Village is now one of the city’s hippest residential destinations. Everything downtown has to offer is a short walk across the North Market Street Bridge, and the neighborhood is the eastern gateway to Brandywine Park.

Page 11: Wawaset Park

 

Wawaset Park features Tudor cottages, Georgian mansions and Gothic revival homes. Photo by Amanda WaidWawaset Park

Bordered by Woodlawn, Pennsylvania, and Greenhill avenues, all of Wawaset Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The area was formerly the grounds of Schuetzen Park, a horse racing and, later, auto racing track and fairgrounds. When the DuPont Co. purchased the campus in 1917, Wawaset developed into the close-knit family community it is today.

“The homes look like they are straight out of Dickens’ London,” says Rago. “Wawaset has some very unique, very expensive, very historic homes, and it has always been one of the most desirable places to live in the city. It’s just a beautiful, great neighborhood.”

The street design and deviously jaunty rooflines may have something to do with people’s associations with Old London. Instead of running in neat north-south, east-west lines, Wawaset’s byways are curvilinear, flanked by Tudor cottages, Georgian mansions and Gothic revival.

“If a home comes on the market in Wawaset, it doesn’t stay there for long,” says Rago.

Page 12: The Riverfront

 

The Riverfront

Though a mixed area of office buildings and entertainment destinations, The Riverfront features several unique residential projects that make it a young, but true neighborhood. First came the Christina Landing development of townhomes next to the Market Street Bridge. Next came the River Tower at Christina Landing condo high-rise next door. Now there’s Justison Landing, a condo project on the other end of The Riverfront. Access to several great residents, the beautiful Riverwalk, and proximity to I-95 and the Wilmington Train Station are all pluses for a growing number of residents.

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