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Wilmington, North Carolina - The Port City

Updated on October 25, 2007

Wilmington, North Carolina is the county seat of New Hanover County. It is a port city located in the southeastern corner of North Carolina between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. The first permanent English settlements were established in the area in the 1720s, although there had been earlier attempts to settle the Cape Fear region in the 1600s. The forests were responsible for the area's major industries throughout the 18th and most of the 19th century. Naval stores and lumber propelled the economy both before and after the American Revolution.

The town of Wilmington was incorporated in 1739. It was originally situated on seven hills located on the east side of the Cape Fear River. It was named in honor of Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington, who was a patron of North Carolina's Governor during this time. Visitors are reminded of the city's rich history by the tree-lined boulevards that have grand old homes.

North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast is comprised of the city of Wilmington and the island communities of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. The beautiful beaches, which are not normally crowded, and the nearby estuarine reserves are ideal for beachcombers, sunbathers, and nature lovers. It is also a paradise for fishermen, water sports enthusiasts, and seafood lovers. Click here for information on area fishing piers.

Wilmington is not just a tourist town. It has become a popular destination because of its moderate climate, historic preservation district, and annual events such as the Azalea Festival and Riverfest.

The city is the home for the World War II Battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55), which is now a war memorial, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a regional visual and performing arts center, and a regional medical center. It is also the site of Screen Gems Studios - North Carolina, which is one of the largest motion picture and television studios not in Hollywood.

Wilmington is also known for being the childhood home of:

  • David Brinkley
  • Alge Crumpler
  • Charlie Daniels
  • Roman Gabriel
  • Charles Kuralt
  • Michael Jordan
  • Sonny Jurgensen
  • Meadowlark Lemon
  • Sugar Ray Leonard
  • Trot Nixon

Area Attractions Things to See & Do:

  • Airlie Gardens
  • Battleship North Carolina
  • Bellamy Mansion Museum & Gardens
  • Burgwin-Wright Museum House & Gardens
  • Cape Fear Museum of History & Science
  • Cape Fear Serpentarium
  • Fort Fisher Civil War Landmark

  • EUE Screen Gems
  • Latimer House Museum
  • New Hanover County Extension Service Arboretum
  • Sunset Park Historic District
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington Arboretum
  • Wilmington Children's Museum
  • Wilmington Railroad Museum

Sports:

  • Charlotte Bobcats (NBA) Training Site
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington Athletics - Colonial Athletic Association (NCAA Division I)
  • Wilmington Hammerheads - United Soccer League
  • Wilmington Sea Dawgs - American Basketball Association

Interesting Fact:

Over 200 movies or TV programs have been filmed in Wilmington. Wilmington was used as the scenery for filming of Dawson's Creek between 1998 and 2003. Movies filmed here include:

  • A Walk to Remember
  • Blue Velvet
  • Super Mario Brothers
  • The List

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