DELAWARE, the First State

What to see

Dover the Capital
Wilmington Winterthur Museum - Nemours Mansion
   
Article du Pont de Nemours
Other pages other states | articles

 

cover new england

This is an extract of the main sights in this state, with small photos. You will find the full description and full-sized photos in my e-book View America: Mid Atlantic

In the travel series View America, this book describes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, points of interest and tourist attractions.

It is not a traditional travel story, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 120 full-sized photos.

 

OVERVIEW

DELAWARE is one of the thirteen original colonies, and is also known as the First State, because it was the first state to join the US. It is also called the Diamond State, because its value is disproportionate to its size, and the Blue Hen State, because of the First Delaware Regiment's mascot, during the Civil War...

The name Delaware comes from the governor of Virginia, Thomas West, who was the third Baron De La Warr. The state played a prominent role in the American Revolution, despite its small size. Delaware became the first state to join the US, on 7 December 1787. The capital is Dover, and the largest city is Wilmington.

It is the second smallest state after Rhode Island, and covers only some 6,000 km2. Approximately 31% of the area is forested. The state has a population of approximately 785,000 inhabitants, with a density of 157 per km2. The first settlers mostly came from Sweden, but there were also Fins and Hollanders.

Delaware's history is inextricably threaded with the history of the (French...) family du Pont and the giant company du Pont de Nemours. In 1802 the French Eleuthère Irénée du Pont founded a small gunpowder company, that developed into the largest American chemical company. Though the state may be small, it is rather prosperous thanks to very tolerant tax laws for businesses. Many companies have their headquarters in Delaware, even though their activities are located elsewhere.

Wilmington's Fort Christina is the first successful European settlement in Delaware, founded by Sweden in 1638. The State Capitol in Dover (built in 1717) is one of the oldest in the US.

 

THINGS TO SEE

Dover : the capital

Dover 1

Delaware's capital is Dover, a very European-looking city. It has low-rise buildings, many beautiful old-style homes, and it is absolutely immaculate.

People are very friendly, and they can usually spare the time for a nice chat.

City Hall is simply stunning, and other interesting views include the Liberty Bell, and a list of all the states.

   
Dover 2 Dover 3

Wilmington : Winterthur museum

Winterthur museum

Delaware's history largely corresponds with that of the family du Pont, and the company du Pont de Nemours. ** Read about the origin and history of the Dupont family ! **

The Winterthur museum in Wilmington, Delaware, is gloriously located in some beautiful landscape. It consists of a Visitor Center, a residential complex with the original mansion, garages, greenhouses and several gardens. The mansion became a museum, with a vast library, and a large outbuilding.

When Henry Francis du Pont made his decision to convert the house to a museum, all the "working" spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms, and all the sanitary installations were removed and converted into exhibition space. All the rooms are locked, and they can only be opened with the guide's key. Every group of visitors is accompanied by a guide.

The rooms are gorgeously decorated, and filled with beautiful American and Chinese porcelain. There is a lot of American furniture to be admired, of which many have been manufactured according to the English standard of Chippendale. The reason why Chippendale is so well known worldwide, stems from the fact that furniture maker Adam Chippendale was the first to write a series of books about his methods, and the then existing styles. After that, furniture makers over the world used his books as a guide. Chippendale describes three main styles ; French Rococco, Chinese and Gothic.

Winterthur museum 1 Winterthur museum 2

A video tour of the estate

 

Wilmington : Nemours mansion and gardens

The Nemours mansion

The interior decoration is simply gorgeous ! In 2006 an extensive renovation was started, that would cost some 39 million dollars...

The Nemours mansion 1 The Nemours mansion 2
   
The Nemours mansion 3 The Nemours mansion 4

A video tour of the estate