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Old Posted Jan 26, 2024, 6:31 PM
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Wilmington, DE: Little Italy

Little Italy is a neighborhood on the west side of Wilmington. Little Italy is bounded by 4th Street to the south, Pennsylvania Avenue to the north, Clayton Street or Rodney Street to the east, and Union Street to the west.

The neighborhood is centered around St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, located on the block bounded by 9th, 10th, Dupont, and Scott Streets. The church served the Italian community, and was the focal point of social life for many in the neighborhood for more than 50 years, beginning in the 1920s when the parish was founded.

Little Italy was settled around the turn of the century. Rowhouses were built beginning around 1900, through to the 1920s and into the 1930s.

The neighborhood remained White and particularly Italian into the 1980s and 1990s. In the 1990s, demographics began to change, with Blacks moving in, especially at the southern end of the neighborhood. In the early 2010s, some gentifrication began occuring, with young Whites of mixed European ancestry, but still some of Italian ancestry, moving back, almost exclusively to the northern end of the neighborhood. Today, the northern end of the neighborhood, which surrounds the Catholic church and is closer to the yuppie neighborhood of Trolley Square, located across Pennsylvania Avenue, is partly old Italian residents, partly Black, and partly White yuppies; the southern end of the neighborhood is mainly Black, with some old Italian families still holding onto their houses.

Union Street is the main commercial street in Little Italy, and also separates the neighborhood from the Flats neighborhood (also called Woodlawn) which also uses the street as its commercial strip. Lincoln Street, which is one block east of and parallels Union Street, has some businesses that service the neighborhood. 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue are also arteries. The rest of the neighborhood is residential, comprised mainly of rowhouses.



The entrance gate to Little Italy graces Lincoln Street near 4th Street.



On the back of the gate is the same message in Italian.



St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church, at 9th & Dupont Streets. The church is the centerpiece of the neighborhood.



The church was dedicated in 1926, with construction completed in 1948.



St. Anthony's is based on St. Zeno Maggiore Church in Verona, Italy, which was completed in 1135.



The mosaic over the sanctuary and altar was fabricated at the Vatican's mosaic studio, and was assembled in the church in 1949.



The campanile was built in 1937, and can be seen from most places in the neighborhood, as well as in some surrounding neighborhoods.



The entire church was built by hand by local Italians, who had experience in stonemasonry and other skills from when they lived in Italy.



The church is best-known for the Italian Festival, which takes place in mid-June for eight days.



The festival was established in 1975, replacing small church carnivals that did not include cultural roots of the parish and community. The church claims that the festival is the largest ethnic festival on the East Coast of the United States, drawing upwards of 150,000 people.



The festival culminates with a procession of saints after a Mass said in Italian, held the Sunday morning of the closing day, which is closest to the fest day for St. Anthony of Padua.



The procession of saints starts at the church, and meanders through the streets of Little Italy.



Capriotti's sandwich shop, on Union Street. The shop opened in 1976, and is the original Capriotti's location. Capriotti's now has locations in 26 states, and is especially popular in the Las Vegas area. Capriotti's is most famous for their Bobbie sandwich, which is called "Thanksgiving dinner on a roll".



Mrs. Robino's Restaurant, on Union Street. The Italian restaurant opened in 1940. Mrs. Robino's is considered the best Italian restaurant in the city, and was featured on the TV show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives".



Walter's Steakhouse, on Union Street. The steakhouse opened in 1993.



Dead Presidents Pub, on Union Street. The bar opened in 1997. Dead Presidents was named to Esquire's list of "Best Bars in America" list.



Esquire Magazine also says that the bar may have the distinction of being the only tavern with a theme of Presidents of the United States, especially those that have died. Copies of portraits, photographs, magazine covers, and campaign items adorn the walls.



Eclipse Bistro, on Union Street. This restaurant is considered one of the better restaurants in the Wilmington metro area by locals.



Fusco's water ice stand, on Union Street. Fusco's was established in 1957.



A steak shop and water ice stand on Union Street at 7th Street.



A sports bar on Union Street.



Crimson Moon, on 6th Street. Crimson Moon is the Wilmington metro area's only gay bar.



The Prince of Piedmont Lodge, on Lincoln Street. The social club was established in 1916.



A bocce court on Lincoln Street.



There are several car dealerships on Pennsylvania Avenue at the north end of the neighborhood, dating all the way back to the early 1910s. Some dealership buildings date back to the 1930s and 1940s, although all have had facades updated by the car companies.



These car dealerships have resulted in this stretch of Lancaster Avenue through Little Italy and Trolley Square to be called "Automobile Row" in the past.



The Antonian, a senior living center on 10th Street. The highrise was built in 1980.



Houses on 9th Street.



A corner liquor store at 9th & Dupont Streets.



Rowhouses on Lincoln Street.



Rowhouses on Scott Street.



Rowhouses on Clayton Street.



Rowhouses on Howland Street.



Rowhouses on 7th Street.



Houses on 8th Street.



Rowhouses on Dupont Street.



Houses on 10th Street.



Houses on Clayton Street.



Houses on Clayton Street.



Bernie's water ice stand, at 8th & Dupont Streets.



Houses on Dupont Street.



The West End Neighborhood House, in an old church on 8th Street.



Houses on Scott Street.



Rowhouses on 5th Street.



Saint Francis Hospital, on Clayton Street. The hospital was established in 1924, with the original building now surrounded by additions. The main section of the hospital was built in 1976.



Rowhouses on Lincoln Street. Being on a major street in the city, some rowhouses have been turned into restaurants or businesses.



Rowhouses on 4th Street. 4th Street, a major street through the city that has resulted in some rowhouses being turned into businesses, separates Little Italy from the Bayard Square neighborhood.

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Old Posted Jan 26, 2024, 6:39 PM
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Thanks for showing Wilmington! Always interesting to see the mid-size cities, especially mid-Atlantic ones.

Kinda think it ought to be called Little Philly though
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Old Posted Jan 26, 2024, 8:06 PM
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Old Posted Jan 26, 2024, 10:29 PM
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you know all i have ever done is rip thru on the highway or blow by on the train. i really need to spend some time in wilmington. nice to see and the festival sure looks inviting.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2024, 1:08 AM
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Wilmington, while not an Italian-dominated city like Philadelphia, Newark, or NY, does have a decent sized Little Italy in it's city!!!
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2024, 3:52 AM
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This is a great tour! Thanks Matt.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2024, 4:26 AM
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Nice thread! Wilmington has some real crime and blight problems, but great bones and a handful of nice urban neighborhoods filled with character. It’s too bad Pennsylvania Ave is stroad-like, because better connectivity with Trolley Square would be nice.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2024, 6:29 AM
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My friend Marshal said that the Cyclops style was prevalent in Wilmington.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2024, 6:26 AM
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yes the catholic churches, really italian, the others not.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2024, 7:08 PM
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Why did so many Italians move to Wilmington.

Didi they target a specific Italian city to recruit Italian immigrants via job promises?

I know this happened on some of the farms in Texas and Omaha, Nebraska had a direct pipeline to one city in Sicily.
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2024, 2:42 AM
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There are a large number of small corner businesses evident!
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2024, 4:00 AM
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Thank you for all of the comments!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
Thanks for showing Wilmington! Always interesting to see the mid-size cities, especially mid-Atlantic ones.

Kinda think it ought to be called Little Philly though
You will see architectural similarities between the vernacular architecture of Wilmington and Philadelphia. I think some of the homebuilders worked in both cities, which is why you see blocks and blocks of the same rowhouses in each city.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrnyc View Post
you know all i have ever done is rip thru on the highway or blow by on the train. i really need to spend some time in wilmington. nice to see and the festival sure looks inviting.
You should spend some time here, especially in mid-June, which is when the Italian Festival takes place, or the Greek Festival, which takes place the weekend before and just a few blocks away in the Cool Spring/Tilton Park neighborhood. Wilmington is also getting mentioned as a foodie destination in some publications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderer34 View Post
Wilmington, while not an Italian-dominated city like Philadelphia, Newark, or NY, does have a decent sized Little Italy in it's city!!!
I would put Wilmington on the second tier of Italian cities. The Italian diaspora is pretty strong in the city and county.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad9 View Post
Nice thread! Wilmington has some real crime and blight problems, but great bones and a handful of nice urban neighborhoods filled with character. It’s too bad Pennsylvania Ave is stroad-like, because better connectivity with Trolley Square would be nice.
It would be nice if they were connected better, but I think Pennsylvania Avenue was wide before cars were even popular, when it was a country road and the road out of Wilmington to Greenville and Chateau Country, and all the DuPont mansions and executive houses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdcamb View Post
My friend Marshal said that the Cyclops style was prevalent in Wilmington.
I'm not sure what the cyclops style is. Is that the rowhouses with the single window on the roofline?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bailey View Post
Why did so many Italians move to Wilmington.

Didi they target a specific Italian city to recruit Italian immigrants via job promises?

I know this happened on some of the farms in Texas and Omaha, Nebraska had a direct pipeline to one city in Sicily.
I think it was because of all the jobs in Wilmington during World War I. Wilmington was a big shipbuilding city from the late 1800s until after World War I, and tons of people were needed for the labor force. But that is just a guess.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2024, 5:54 AM
Docere Docere is offline
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Great pics.
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