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Delaware

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Delaware, or “The First State” is the second smallest state in the United States. It is situated in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country and is bordered by Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. It is also ranked as the sixth least-populous state in the country, followed by Montana. It was the first state to join the Union and to enact the U.S. constitution in 1787. Delaware is also filled with many interesting facts such as being one of the only five states in the country having no sales tax; being the home to the billion-dollar company, DuPont (a leading institution in biosciences and the 4th-largest chemical company in the world); and having the largest collections of seashells in the world, which is being showcased in the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

There are three counties in Delaware that were once separated from each other; Kent, Sussex, and New Castle. Even though it is not the smallest state, it still has less of what other states have. The county seat of Kent is Dover, Sussex’s seat is Georgetown, and New Castle’s county seat is Wilmington. The latter is where most attractions are located in.

History

The area on which Delaware is currently situated, along with the Delaware River, were one of the first places in North America the Europeans settled in. The Swedes originally colonized Delaware after struggling for control from the Dutch West India Trading Company, and was later claimed by the English led by James the Duke of York in 1664. During the American Revolution (Wikipedia Article), Delaware was one of the 13 colonies in the country that rebelled against the British Empire. The Americans won the war in 1776, and later established the U.S. Constitution, in which Delaware was the first state to implement it.

In 1800, the du Pont family immigrated in Delaware and became one of the country’s richest families as a result of founding a gunpowder mill, the E. I du Pont de Nemours and Company. Through the years, du Pont’s family and their company played a significant role in the state’s economy and development, even becoming one of the largest companies in the world (ranked #86 in the 2014 Fortune 500 list). In the 1970s, Governor Pierre du Pont IV decreased Delaware’s spending and business taxes, attracting several industries and also people from all over the country to settle in the state.

Sightseeing



Wilmington

Settled at the northern part of the state is Delaware's largest city and the county seat of New Castle, Wilmington. It was dubbed the “Chemical Capital of the World” and “Corporate Capital of the World” for being the city where duPont was founded, and where most American conglomerates are incorporated. Wilmington consists of most of the historical landmarks and tourists attractions in the state, including museums and zoos. It also serves as Delaware's commercial and economic hub. Wilmington is also more popular among other cities and counties in the state for its well-developed recreational parks, collection of shopping districts, and its lively downtown area.

Brandywine Creek State Park

The Brandywine Creek State Park is one of Delaware's most popular nature recreation areas and a local favorite picnic spot. It is situated along the Brandywine Creek in Wilmington and is open to the public all year-round. The 933-acre park was established in 1965 in a land which used to be a dairy farm owned by the du Pont family. The state park consists of many hiking and biking trails spanning about 2 - 4.8 kilometers each (or about 23 kilometers in total), the creek is also frequented by many kayakers and recreational fishermen. Aside from numerous amenities, the park also has its own Nature Center that offers educational programs, such as guided tours and lectures about environmental protection.

Brandywine Zoo

For nature lovers, the Brandwine Creek State Park is not the only place in DE where they can enjoy the beauty of nature and wildlife. The 12-acre Brandywine Zoo is located in Brandywine Park in Wilmington, and just a few minutes away from the state park. It is home to more than 150 animals and caters to over 80,000 visitors annually. Even though it has a fairly small collection of animals than other big zoos in major cities, the Brandywine Zoo still manages to entertain and educate its guests with a number of interesting exhibits. Exotic and endangered species like the Red Panda, Amur Tiger, and the American Bald Eagle are some of the resident stars. Aside from the main zoo, it also features an Exotic Animal House for creatures that are not accustomed to Delaware’s climate. The zoo is open every day, from 10AM – 4PM.

Delaware Art Museum

Located in Wilmington is an institution renowned for its English Pre-Raphaelite collection, the Delaware Art Museum. It was established in 1912 and consists of more than 12,000 objects, mostly American art and several works from the 19th to the 21st century. Behind the museum is also the 9-acre Copeland Sculpture Garden which features a labyrinth and 9 large sculptures representing American artists like Tom Otterness and Joe Moss. The Delaware Art Museum offers many art programs and special exhibitions for the community each year, making every visit exciting and fun. It is open Wednesday to Sunday, usually from 10AM – 4pm. An admission fee of $ 12 USD is required for adults.

Delaware Museum of National History

Opened to the public in 1972, the national history museum in Wilmington is the only one of its kind in the state of Delaware. The museum consists of John du Pont’s own collection of a million sea shells and more than 100,000 bird eggs. It also houses exhibits of mammals, dinosaurs, and a special section about Charles Darwin and evolution. The Delaware Museum of National History aims to encourage and educate the community, especially children, about the natural world through discovery. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30AM – 4:30PM; Sunday, from 12PM – 4:30PM.

Hagley Museum and Library

What used to be an industrial site of gunpowder is now a non-profit educational institution and National Historic Landmark known as the Hagley Museum. The 235-acre property consists of the original Eleutherian mills, estate, and French-style gardens of the du Pont family. Visitors can learn all about the family’s legacy and their company in the 19th century through several tours and engaging exhibits. The library is also open to the public for research; it consists of manuscripts, archives, books, and photographs about the history of American business and technology. Also within the Hagley Museum is the property barn, which has a grand display of vintage cars.

The Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House is Delaware’s primary theater for Victorian melodramas, musical recitals, symphonies, and classical concerts. The restored 1871 Victorian theater is located in Wilmington, along North Market Street. “The Grand” focuses on serving the community with entertaining and engaging live performances, it also promotes the cultural experience and quality of life in the city. Popular artists like Kathy Griffin and David Sedaris are some of the exceptional talents that can be seen when visiting this amazing venue. For a detailed schedule of events, guests can check out The Grand Opera House official website.

People and Culture

With a total population of over 935,614 people in the entire state, most of Delaware’s residents belong to the Irish, German, and English ancestry group. Aside from the three mentioned, Delaware is also inhabited by many other cultures of people, each sharing their heritage through large celebrations and festival, variety of cuisines, and other unique traditions. The Lenape (Wikipedia Article) Indians were the original settlers before the Europeans arrived in America, and some of the tribe’s customs and traditions still live in Delaware’s culture, celebrated each year by their descendants and the local community. The people of Delaware also consists mostly of Evangelical Christians (Baptists and Methodists), followed by Roman Catholics and other religious affiliations.

Food

The most popular dishes in Delaware has its roots from the English and German countries, considering they are the first settlers in the land. These dishes include Broiler Chicken dishes (Blue Hen varieties, hence Delaware was also dubbed “Blue Hen State”), served with potatoes or corn. Other popular foods associated with Delaware are Crab Cakes, Dilly Crab Dip, Oysters and Clams. Another specialty in Delaware is its very own Scrapple, made from pork trimmings, cornmeal, and flour, combined to make a loaf and deep fried. The Scrapple is a Mid-Atlantic region favorite, perfect for breakfasts and desserts.

Transportation

Tourists can get in and out of Delaware through several options. The most common is by air, primarily at the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), where most commercial airlines are present. Not far from Wilmington is the New Castle Airport, it is a fairly small airport and used as an alternative for people going to various places in the country.

Delaware is also connected to other major cities by rail and bus system. Septa and Amtrak offer trips going to New York, Washington D.C., and other nearby states. Tourists can ride a train at the Wilmington Rail Station in downtown, and in the Newark Rail Station in Newark, DE. Buses are managed by the Delaware Transit Corporation or DART First State, offering trips around downtown and throughout other cities in the region. The Dart First State public transportation system also includes subsidized taxis and paratransits for people with disabilities.

The state of Delaware is also served by three ferries; Cape May-Lewes Ferry, Woodland Ferry, and the Delaware City – Salem Ferry. The former being the most popular, taking passengers from Lewes to Cape May, New Jersey.

Festivals

Due to its diverse culture of residents, Delaware has many festivals all year round. The most popular is the Delaware State Fair held every last two weeks of July. It is their only state fair and consists of musical and circus performances, derbies, horse racing, and other exciting entertainment.

Another recent addition to its long list of celebrations is the Firefly Music Festival which is dubbed “The East Coast’s Premier Music Experience”. People from all over the region gather at the woodlands of the Dover International Speedway (Wikipedia Article) to watch live musical performances by popular bands and artists; with headliners like The Killers, John Legend, and Foo Fighters. The Firefly Music Festival is held during summer every year, for a span of 3 to 4 days.

Safety

Delaware and all its counties are considerably safe for tourists. The local community helps the state and city police in maintaining order through two-way radios and neighborhood patrols. Downtown Wilmington also has one of the highest concentrations of security cameras in the entire state, but of course, common sense and being alert are always essential when strolling anywhere at night.

Travel Tip

If you don’t own a private car or have someone drive for you, moving around different cities and counties can be quite difficult. Even with an efficient public transportation system, tourists should always make sure to double check what bus routes to take. You can see the details and schedules of all the buses operating in the area by going to the DART – First State official website. DART guides and travel books are also available at several train and bus stations.

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Author: radiantan. Last updated: Jan 21, 2015

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