New Castle is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, United States. The city is located six miles (10 km) south of Wilmington and is situated on the Delaware River. As of 2020, the city's population was 5,551.[3] New Castle constitutes part of the Delaware Valley or Philadelphia metropolitan area.

New Castle, Delaware
Old New Castle County Courthouse
Flag of New Castle, Delaware
Official seal of New Castle, Delaware
Location of New Castle in New Castle County, Delaware (left) and of New Castle County in Delaware (right)
Location of New Castle in New Castle County, Delaware (left) and of New Castle County in Delaware (right)
New Castle is located in Delaware
New Castle
New Castle
Location in Delaware
New Castle is located in the United States
New Castle
New Castle
New Castle (the United States)
Coordinates: 39°39′43″N 75°33′59″W / 39.66194°N 75.56639°W / 39.66194; -75.56639
CountryUnited States
CountyNew Castle
 • Total3.52 sq mi (9.12 km2)
 • Land3.48 sq mi (9.01 km2)
 • Water0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
10 ft (3 m)
 • Total5,551
 • Density1,596.03/sq mi (616.23/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
19720-19721, 19726
Area code302
FIPS code10-50800
GNIS feature ID214379[2]



17th century


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 following its seizure by the colony of New Sweden on Trinity Sunday in 1654. The Dutch conquered the entire colony of New Sweden the following year and rechristened the fort as Nieuw-Amstel, named after the 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 a common green in the town's center, which continues 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 1763-1767 survey conducted by Mason and Dixon, now famed in history as the Mason–Dixon line.[4][5][page needed]

18th century


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 became accustomed to the relaxed culture of the Restoration monarchy and 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 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were from New Castle: Thomas McKean, George Read, and George Ross.

19th century


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. The many buildings of historic New Castle have largely not been upgraded or restored and appear much as they did in the Colonial and Federal periods.

20th century


Since 1927, New Castle has offered tours of historical homes, churches, and gardens, which are typically held annually on the third Saturday of May. Householders dress in colonial costumes and an admittance fee, used toward the maintenance of the town's many historic buildings, is charged. Annually in June, New Castle holds its annual Separation Day celebration.

On April 28, 1961, an F3 tornado hit the north side.[6] Although no fatalities or injuries occurred, it was the only tornado of this magnitude ever recorded in Delaware during the Fujita scale area.[7]

21st century


A tornado rated EF3 hit the city on April 1, 2023.[8]



According to the U.S. 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.[citation needed]

The city is the home of Broad Dyke, the first dyke built in the United States.[citation needed]

The cupola of the court house is the center of the "Twelve-Mile Circle" that defines much of the border between Delaware and Pennsylvania. The circle also forms a small portion of the border between Delaware and New Jersey and Delaware and Maryland.[9]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of the census[11] 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 inhabitants per square mile (615.7/km2). There were 2,199 housing units at an average density of 721.2 per square mile (278.5/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.

Historic sites

Cloud's Row in 1936

New Castle Historic District is an area approximately four blocks square in the center of town with about 500 historic buildings, built between 1700 and 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.[12][13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]

Notable sites the historic district include:

Bellanca Airfield, located outside of the historic district, is the site of the former Bellanca Aircraft Corporation factory, which operated in New Castle from 1928 to 1960 and 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.[17]



New Castle is served by the Colonial School District.[18] It operates William Penn High School.

Private schools located in New Castle include: Serviam Girls Academy, St. Peter's Catholic School (of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington) and Delaware Valley Classical School.

New Castle Public Library is the public library.




US 13 northbound and US 40 eastbound in New Castle

U.S. Route 13 and U.S. Route 40 are the most significant highways serving New Castle directly. They pass along the northwest edge of the city concurrently along Dupont Highway.

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. 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.[19]

The Wilmington Airport (formerly New Castle Airport) is located northwest of New Castle along US 13/US 40.[19] The airport offers general aviation, commercial air service, and is home to a unit of the Delaware Air National Guard.

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.[19]

DART First State provides bus service to New Castle along Route 15 and Route 51, which both run between downtown Wilmington and the Christiana Mall and offer connections to multiple bus routes serving points across northern New Castle County.[20]



The Municipal Services Commission of the City of New Castle provides electricity and water to the city.[21] The electric department is a member of the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation.[22] Natural gas service in New Castle is provided by Delmarva Power, a subsidiary of Exelon.[23] The city's Public Works department provides trash and recycling collection to New Castle.[24]

Notable people


In film


New Castle has served as the filming location for numerous films and television series, including Dead Poets Society,[25] Beloved, and River Ridge.


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  2. ^ "New Castle". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  3. ^ "The Delaware Census State Data Center". Archived from the original on December 31, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  4. ^ Eckman, Jeannette (1947). "Delaware Street Area". New Castle History And Archaeology Project. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  5. ^ Weslager, Clinton Alfred (1988). New Sweden on the Delaware. Wilmington, DE, US: Middle Atlantic Press. ISBN 978-0-912608-65-5. OCLC 470579367.
  6. ^ "Tornado History Project: 19610428.10.1". Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "Tornado History Project: F3 in Delaware". Archived from the original on April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  8. ^ NWS Damage Surveys for April 1, 2023 Tornado Outbreak and Wind Event - Update 10 (Report). April 7, 2023. Retrieved April 7, 2023 – via Iowa Environmental Mesonet. {{cite report}}: Unknown parameter |agency= ignored (help)
  9. ^ "Boundary Data Base with Clickable Map". December 6, 1998. Archived from the original on December 6, 1998. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  11. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  12. ^ "New Castle Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on December 6, 2007. Retrieved September 27, 2007.
  13. ^ Patricia Heintzelman and Charles Snell (August 30, 1974), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: New Castle (pdf), National Park Service and Accompanying 20 photos, from 1967 and 1974 (7.82 MB)
  14. ^ "NRHP nomination for New Castle Historic District (1984 increase)". National Park Service. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  15. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  16. ^ "First State National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  18. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: New Castle County, DE" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved June 18, 2021.
  19. ^ a b c Delaware Department of Transportation (2008). Delaware Official Transportation Map (PDF) (Map). Dover: Delaware Department of Transportation.
  20. ^ "Routes and Schedules". DART First State. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  21. ^ "Home". Municipal Services Commission of the City of New Castle. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  22. ^ "Members". Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  23. ^ "Gas Delivery Service Area". Delmarva Power. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  24. ^ "Public Works". City of New Castle, Delaware. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  25. ^ Cormier, Ryan (August 12, 2014) [Originally published April 4, 2014]. "25 'Dead Poets Society' in Delaware facts". The News Journal. Pulp Culture. Wilmington, DE, USA: Gannett Company. Retrieved January 18, 2015. Old New Castle also gets plenty of screen time with private homes, Delaware Street and Gunning Bedford Middle School each hosting film crews.