|Country United States|
State North Carolina
|Population 112,067 (2013)|
Area 41.5 sq mi
Mayor Bill Saffo
|Points of interest Bellamy Mansion, Cape Fear Museum, Airlie Gardens, USS North Carolina (BB-55), Cameron Art Museum|
Colleges and Universities University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College, Miller-Motte College-Wilmington, College of Wilmington
Unemployment rate 5.1% (Feb 2015)
Map of Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington is a port city and the county seat of New Hanover County in coastal southeastern North Carolina, United States. The population is 112,067; according to the 2010 Census it is the 8th largest city in the state. Wilmington is the principal city of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that includes New Hanover and Pender counties in southeastern North Carolina, which has a population of 263,429 as of the 2012 Census Estimate.
- Map of Wilmington North Carolina
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- Colonial beginnings
- Revolutionary era
- Antebellum period
- Civil War
- Wilmington Insurrection of 1898
- World War II
- National Register of Historic Places
- Interstate highways
- US Routes
- North Carolina state highways
- Alternate transportation options
- Top employers
- Universities and colleges
- High schools
- Middle schools
- Elementary schools
- Academies and alternate schools
- Performing arts
- Museums and historic areas
- Broadcast radio
- Public and listener supported
- Shopping complexes
- Sister cities
- Points of interest
- Notable people
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Wilmington was settled by European Americans along the Cape Fear River. Its historic downtown has a one-mile-long Riverwalk, originally developed as a tourist attraction, and in 2014 Wilmington's riverfront was named the "Best American Riverfront" by USA Today. It is minutes away from nearby beaches. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Wilmington, North Carolina, as one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. City residents live between the river and the ocean, with four nearby beach communities: Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach, all within half-hour drives from downtown Wilmington.
In 2003 the city was designated by the US Congress as a "Coast Guard City". It is the home port for the USCGC Diligence, a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter. The World War II battleship USS North Carolina is held as a war memorial; located across from the downtown port area, the ship is open to public tours. Other attractions include the Cape Fear Museum, the Wilmington Hammerheads United Soccer Leagues soccer team. The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) provides a wide variety of programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and adult learners, in addition to cultural and sports events open to the community.
Wilmington is the home of EUE Screen Gems Studios, the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside of California. "Dream Stage 10," the facility's newest sound stage, is the third-largest in the US. It houses the largest special-effects water tank in North America. After the studio's opening in 1984, Wilmington became a major center of American film and television production. Numerous movies in a range of genres and several television series, including Iron Man 3, Fox's Sleepy Hollow, One Tree Hill, Dawson's Creek and NBC's Revolution, were produced there.
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The area had long been inhabited by various cultures of indigenous peoples; at the time of European encounter, historic Native Americans were tribes belonging to the Algonquian languages family.
The ethnic European and African history of Wilmington spans more than two and a half centuries. Giovanni da Verrazano is reportedly the first European to observe the area, including the city's present site, in the early 16th century. The first permanent European settlement in the area came in the 1720s when English colonists began settling the area. In September 1732, a community was founded on land owned by John Watson on the Cape Fear River, at the confluence of its northwest and northeast branches. The settlement, founded by the first royal governor, George Burrington, was called "New Carthage," and then "New Liverpool;" it gradually took on the name "New Town" or "Newton". Governor Gabriel Johnston soon after established his government there for the North Carolina colony. In 1739 or 1740, the town was incorporated with a new name, Wilmington, in honor of Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington.
Some early settlers of Wilmington came from the Albemarle and Pamlico regions, as well as from the colonies of Virginia and South Carolina, but most new settlers arrived from the northern colonies, the West Indies, and the British Isles. Many of the settlers were indentured servants, mainly from the British Isles and northern Europe. As the indentured servants gained their freedom, the colonists imported an increasing number of (permanent and much less expensive) African slaves as laborers into the port city. By 1767, slaves accounted for more than 62% of the population of the Lower Cape Fear region. Many worked in the port as laborers, and some in ship-related trades.
Naval stores and lumber fueled the region's economy, both before and after the American Revolution. During the Revolutionary War, the British maintained a garrison at Fort Johnson near Wilmington.
Wilmington's commercial importance as a major port afforded it a critical role in opposition to the British in the years leading up to the Revolution. Additionally, the city was home to outspoken political leaders who influenced and led the resistance movement in North Carolina. The foremost of these was Wilmington resident Cornelius Harnett, who served in the General Assembly at the time, where he rallied opposition to the Sugar Act in 1764. When the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act the following year, designed to raise revenue for the Crown with a kind of tax, Wilmington was the site of an elaborate demonstration against it.
On October 19, 1765, several hundred townspeople gathered in protest of the new law, burned an effigy of one town resident who favored the act, and toasted to "Liberty, Property, and No Stamp Duty." On October 31, another crowd gathered in a symbolic funeral of "Liberty". But before the effigy was buried, it was found that Liberty still had a pulse, and celebration ensued.
Dr. William Houston of Duplin County was appointed Stamp Receiver for Cape Fear. When Houston visited Wilmington on business, still unaware of his appointment, he recounted,
"The Inhabitants immediately assembled about me & demanded a Categorical Answer whether I intended to put the Act relating [to] the Stamps in force. The Town Bell was rung[,] Drums [were] beating, Colours [were] flying and [a] great concourse of People [were] gathered together." For the sake of his own life, and "to quiet the Minds of the inraged [sic] and furious Mobb...," Houston resigned his position at the courthouse.
Governor William Tryon made attempts to mitigate the opposition to no avail. On November 18, 1765, he pleaded his case directly to prominent residents of the area. They said the law restricted their rights. When the stamps arrived on November 28 on the H.M. Sloop Diligence, Tryon ordered them to be kept on board. Shipping on the Cape Fear River was stopped, as were the functions of the courts.
Tryon, after having received his official commission as governor (a position he had only assumed after the death of Arthur Dobbs), was brought to Wilmington by Captain Constantine Phipps on a barge from the Diligence, and "was received cordially by the gentlemen of the borough." He was greeted with the firing of seventeen pieces of artillery, and the New Hanover County regiment of militia who had lined the streets. This "warm welcome" was spoiled, however, after a dispute arose between Captain Phipps and captains of ships in the harbor regarding the display of their colors. The townspeople became infuriated with Phipps and threats were made against both sides. After Tryon harangued them for their actions, the townspeople gathered around the barrels of punch and ox he had brought as refreshments. The barrels were broken open, letting the punch spill into the streets; they threw the head of the ox into the pillory, and gave its body to the slaves. Tryon moved his seat of government to New Bern instead of Wilmington.
On February 18, 1766, two merchant ships arrived at Brunswick Town, without stamped papers. Each ship provided signed statements from the collectors at their respective ports of origin that there were no stamps available, but Captain Jacob Lobb of the British cruiser Viper seized the vessels. In response, numerous residents from southern counties met in Wilmington. The group organized as the Sons of Liberty and pledged to block implementation of the Stamp Act. The following day, as many as a thousand men, including the mayor and aldermen of Wilmington, were led by Cornelius Harnett to Brunswick to confront Tryon. The governor was unyielding to their defiance but a mob retrieved the seized ships. They forced royal customs officers and public officials in the region to swear never to issue stamped paper. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in March 1766.
In the 1830s, citizens of Wilmington became eager to take advantage of railroad transportation. Plans were developed to build a railroad line from the capital of Raleigh to Wilmington. This was later changed when the citizens of Raleigh did not care to make the venture of a stock subscription to secure the railroad. The end point was changed to Weldon. When construction of the railroad line was finally completed in 1840, it was the longest single line of railroad track in the world. The railroad also controlled a line of steamboats that ran from Wilmington to Charleston; it was widely used for passenger travel and transportation of freight. Regular boat lines served Fayetteville, and packet lines traveled to northern ports. The city was a main stop-over point, contributing greatly to its commerce.
By mid-century, the churchyard of St. James Episcopal Church and other town cemeteries had become filled with graves. On November 16, 1853, a group of citizens, organized as "The Proprietors of the Wilmington Cemetery," was formed to develop a new cemetery. Sixty-five acres of land around Burnt Mill Creek was chosen as the site for what would be called Oakdale Cemetery. It was the first rural cemetery in North Carolina. The cemetery's first interment, on February 6, 1855, was six-year-old Annie deRosset. Many remains from St. James churchyard were relocated to the new cemetery.
The Wilmington Gas Light Company was established in 1854. Soon after, street lights were powered by gas made from lightwood and rosin, replacing the old street oil lamps. On December 27, 1855, the first cornerstone was laid and construction began on a new City Hall. A grant from the Thalian Association funded the attached opera house, named Thalian Hall. The city opened its first public school, named the "Union Free School", in 1857 on 6th Street between Nun and Church Streets.
During the Civil War, the port was the major and busiest base for Confederate and privately owned blockade runners delivering badly needed supplies from England. It was captured by Union forces in the Battle of Wilmington in February 1865, approximately one month after the fall of Fort Fisher had closed the port. As nearly all the military action took place some distance from the city, a number of antebellum houses and other buildings survived the war years.
Wilmington Insurrection of 1898
The Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 (formerly called a race riot) occurred as a result of the racially charged political conflict that had occurred in the decades after the Civil War and efforts to reestablish white supremacy. In the 1870s, the Red Shirts, a white paramilitary organization, used violence and intimidation to suppress black voting, helping Democrats to regain power in the state legislature and end Reconstruction. In 1898, a cadre of white Democrats, professionals and businessmen, planned to overthrow the city government if their candidates were not elected. Two days after the election, more than 1500 white men attacked and burned the only black newspaper in the state and ran off the white Republican mayor and aldermen (both white and black), overthrowing the legitimately elected municipal government. This is the only such coup d'état in United States history.
On November 10, 1898, nearly 1500 white men, led by the Democrat Alfred M. Waddell, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in 1896, marched to the offices of the Daily Record, as they had been angered by its publisher Alex Manly. The mob broke out of control, shattering windows and setting fire to the building. Violence later broke out across town in Brooklyn, the black neighborhood that was attacked by mobs of whites. Waddell and his men forced the elected Republican city officials to resign at gunpoint and replaced them with men selected by leading white Democrats. Waddell was elected mayor by the newly seated board of aldermen that day. Prominent African Americans and white Republicans were banished from the city in the following days.
Whites attacked and killed an estimated 10-100 blacks. No whites died in the violence. As a result of the attacks, more than 2100 blacks permanently left the city, leaving a hole among its professional and middle class. It became majority white, rather than the majority black it was before the white Democrats' coup.
Following these events, the North Carolina legislature passed a new constitution with voter registration requirements for poll taxes and literacy tests that effectively disfranchised black voters, following the example of the state of Mississippi. Blacks were essentially disfranchised until after Congressional passage of the civil rights acts of the mid-1960s.
World War II
During World War II, Wilmington was the home of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company. The shipyard was created as part of the U.S. government's Emergency Shipbuilding Program. Workers built 243 ships in Wilmington during the five years the company operated.
The city was the site of three prisoner-of-war (POW) camps from February 1944 through April 1946. At their peak, the camps held 550 German prisoners. The first camp was located on the corner of Shipyard Boulevard and Carolina Beach Road; it was moved downtown to Ann Street, between 8th and 10th avenues, when it outgrew the original location. A smaller contingent of prisoners was assigned to a third site, working in the officers' mess and doing grounds keeping at Bluethenthal Army Air Base, which is now Wilmington International Airport.
National Register of Historic Places
The Audubon Trolley Station, Brookwood Historic District, Carolina Heights Historic District, Carolina Place Historic District, City Hall/Thalian Hall, Delgrado School, Federal Building and Courthouse, Fort Fisher, Gabriel's Landing, William Hooper School (Former), Market Street Mansion District, Masonboro Sound Historic District, Moores Creek National Battlefield, Sunset Park Historic District, USS NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55) National Historic Landmark, James Walker Nursing School Quarters, Westbrook-Ardmore Historic District, Wilmington Historic District, and Wilmington National Cemetery are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Wilmington is located at 34°13′24″N 77°54′44″W. It is the Eastern Terminus of a major East-West Interstate 40 which ends at Barstow, California, where it joins I-15, the Gateway to Southern California, some 2,554 miles away, passing through many major cities and state capitals along the way.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.5 square miles (107 km2). 41.0 square miles (106 km2) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) of it (1.16%) is water. Besides Wrightsville Beach as the main dominant outing in the Wilmington area, there are also other beaches connected with Wrightsville like Carolina and Kure Beach, helped create a Wilmington with never ending beach sceneries.
Wilmington has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with the following characteristics:
Wilmington boasts a large historic district encompassing nearly 300 blocks. Old abandoned warehouses on downtown's northern end have been recently demolished making room for multi-million dollar projects such as PPD's World Headquarters and a state of the art convention center.
Between 2006 and 2008, crime rates, as reported through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports, decreased in 6 of the 8 reported categories.
Wilmington has an increasing problem with gang violence and on October 15, 2013 the WPD and NHC Sheriffs department created a joint task force to combat gang violence. Just a day later the city council approved $142,000 in funding for a gang investigative unit.
According to 2013 census estimates, there were 112,067 people and 47,003 households in the city. The population density was 2,067.8 people per square mile (714.2/km²)and there were 53,400 housing units. The racial composition of the city was: 73.5% White, 19.9% Black or African American, 6.1% Hispanic or Latino American, 1.2% Asian American, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.
There were 34,359 households out of which 20.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.5% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.5% were non-families. 36.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.77.
In the city, the population was spread out with 18.4% under the age of 18, 17.2% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,099, and the median income for a family was $41,891. Males had a median income of $30,803 versus $23,423 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,503. About 13.3% of families and 19.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.
Less than half of Wilmington's population is religiously affiliated (47.30%), with the majority of practitioners being Christian. The largest Christian denomination in Wilmington is Baptist (14.66%) followed by Methodist (8.29%) and Roman Catholic (7.42%). There is also a significant number of Presbyterians (3.19%), Episcopalians (2.30%), Pentecostals (1.45%), and Lutherans (1.32%). Latter-Day Saints make up 0.90%, and the remaining Christians are affiliated with other Christian denominations (7.02%). The second largest religion in Wilmington after Christianity is Islam (0.46%), followed by Judaism (0.25%). There is also a small percentage of people who practice Eastern religions (0.04%).
Wilmington is home to some significant historical religious buildings, such as the Basilica Shrine of St. Mary and the Temple of Israel.
The Wilmington International Airport (ILM) serves the area with commercial air service provided by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. American Airlines carries a large share of the airport's traffic, and therefore flies the largest of the aircraft in and out of the airport. The airport serves over 800,000 travelers per year. The airport is also home to two fixed-base operations (FBO's) which currently house over 100 private aircraft. The airport maintains a separate International Terminal providing a full service Federal Inspection Station to clear international flights. This includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Dept of Agriculture and the U.S. Dept of Immigration. The airport is 4 miles from downtown.
US 17 Bus.
North Carolina state highways
Alternate transportation options
Public transit in the area is provided by the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, which operates fixed bus routes, shuttles, and a free downtown trolley under the brand name Wave Transit. A daily intercity bus service to Raleigh is provided by Greyhound Lines.
The NC-DOT Cape Fear Run bicycle route connects Apex to Wilmington and closely parallels the RUSA 600 km brevet route.
The City of Wilmington offers transient docking facilities in the center of Downtown Wilmington along the Cape Fear River approximately 12.5 miles from the Intracoastal Waterway. The river depth in the run up from the ICW is in excess of 40 feet. Taxicab service is available from several vendors, however, as the price of fuel rises, yet the City's Taxi Commission keeps meter rates artificially low, there is a real likelihood that no drivers will continue to work, as their income, before taxes, now averages 30% of what it was in 1998.
The Gary Shell Cross City trail is currently under construction. The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail is primarily a multi-use trail which will provide bicycle and pedestrian access to numerous recreational, cultural and educational destinations in Wilmington. The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail will provide a future bicycle and pedestrian connection from Wade Park, Halyburton Park and Empie Park to the Heide-Trask Drawbridge at the Intracoastal Waterway.
Wilmington's industrial base includes electrical, medical, electronic and telecommunications equipment; clothing and apparel; food processing; paper products; nuclear fuel; and pharmaceuticals. Wilmington is part of North Carolina's Research coast, adjacent to the Research Triangle Park in Durham, NC.
Also important to Wilmington's economy is tourism due to its close proximity to the ocean and vibrant nightlife. Within Wilmington, discrimination against servicemembers of the United States Armed Forces has occurred at a number of bars.
Located on the Cape Fear River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington is a sizable seaport, including private marine terminals and the North Carolina State Ports Authority's Port of Wilmington.
Wilmington is home to the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, the oldest Chamber in North Carolina, organized in 1853. Companies with their headquarters in Wilmington include Live Oak Bank and HomeInsurance.com.
According to the City's 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
Universities and colleges
Public Schools in Wilmington are operated by the New Hanover County School System.
Academies and alternate schools
The city supports a very active calendar with its showcase theater, Thalian Hall, hosting about 250 events annually. The complex has been in continuous operation since it opened in 1858 and houses three performance venues, the Main Stage, the Grand Ballroom, and the Studio Theater.
The Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center, 120 S. Second Street in historic downtown Wilmington, is a multiuse facility owned by the City of Wilmington and managed by the Thalian Association, the Official Community Theater of North Carolina. Here, five studios are available to nonprofit organizations for theatrical performances, rehearsals, musicals, recitals and art classes. For more than half a century, the Hannah Block Historic USO Building has facilitated the coming together of generations, providing children with programs that challenge them creatively, and enhance the quality of life for residents throughout the region.
The Hannah Block Second Street Stage is home to the Thalian Association Children's Theater. It is one of the main attractions at the Hannah Block Community Arts Center. The theater seats 200 and is a popular performance venue for many community theater groups and other entertainment productions.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington College of Arts and Science Departments of Theatre, Music and Art share a state-of-the-art, $34 million Cultural Arts Building which opened in December 2006. The production area consists of a music recital hall, art gallery, and two theaters. Sponsored events include 4 theater productions a year.
The Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews is a 125 year old building on the corner of North 4th and Campbell St in downtown Wilmington. The Brooklyn Arts Center at Saint Andrews (BAC) is on the National Register of Historic Places. The BAC is used for weddings, concerts, fundraisers, art shows, vintage flea markets, and other community-driven events.
Wilmington, otherwise known as Hollywood East, is home to EUE/Screen Gems Studios. Popular televisions series' like Sleepy Hollow, Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, SIX, Good Behavior, Eastbound and Down and Under The Dome used the stages, and multiple locations throughout the city, as well as popular movies like Iron Man 3, We're the Millers, The Longest Ride and The Choice
Since 1995, Wilmington hosts an annual, nationally recognized, independent film festival, the "Cucalorus". It is the keystone event of The Cucalorus Film Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Foundation also sponsors weekly screenings, several short documentary projects, and the annual Kids Festival, with hands on film-making workshops.
The Cape Fear Independent Film Network also hosts a film festival annually.
Birthplace of Johnson Jones Hooper (1815-1862), Author of the Simon Suggs Series.
Birthplace of Robert Ruark (1915-1965)
Chamber Music Wilmington was founded in 1995 and presents its four-concert "Simply Classical" series every season. The concerts are performed by world-class chamber musicians and are held at UNC-Wilmington's Beckwith Recital, acoustically designed for intimate music performances.
The Wilmington Symphony Orchestra was established in 1971 and offers throughout the year a series of five classical performances, and a Free Family Concert. Wilmington is also home to numerous music festivals.
One of the largest DIY festivals, the Wilmington Exchange Festival, occurs over a period of 5 days around Memorial Day each year. It is currently in its 13th year.
Celebrating its 37th year, February 2 thru 4th, 2017, the North Carolina Jazz Festival is a three-day traditional jazz festival which features world-renowned jazz musicians.
The Cape Fear Blues Society is a driving force behind blues music in Wilmington, N.C. The organization manages, staffs and sponsors weekly Cape Fear Blues Jams and the annual Cape Fear Blues Challenge talent competition (winners travel to Memphis TN for the International Blues Challenge). Its largest endeavor is the Cape Fear Blues Festival, an annual celebration that showcases local, regional and national touring blues artists performing at a variety of events and venues, including the Cape Fear Blues Cruise, Blues Workshops, an All-Day Blues Jam, and numerous live club shows. Membership in the CFBS is open to listeners and musicians alike.
Museums and historic areas
The Second and Orange Street USO Club was erected by the Army Corps of Engineers at a cost of $80,000. Along with an identical structure on Nixon Street for African-American servicemen, it opened in December 1941, the same month that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. From 1941 to 1945, the USO hosted 35,000 uniformed visitors a week. Recently renovated with sensitivity to its historic character, the Hannah Block Historic USO (HBHUSO) lobby serves as a museum where World War II memorabilia and other artifacts are displayed. The building itself was rededicated in Ms. Block's name in 2006 and restored to its 1943 wartime character in 2008. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition, an all volunteer 501(c)(3) preservation organization, is the de facto preservationist of the building's history and maintains the home front museum.
Wilmington is host to many annual festivals, including, most notably, the Azalea Festival. The Azalea Festival, sponsored by the Cape Fear Garden Club, features a garden tour, historic home tour, garden party, musical performances, a parade, and a fireworks show. It takes places every year in April.
The Star-News is Wilmington's daily newspaper; read widely throughout the Lower Cape Fear region and now owned by the Halifax Media Group. A daily online newspaper, Port City Daily (portcitydaily.com), is owned by Local Voice Media. Two historically black newspapers are distributed and published weekly: The Wilmington Journal and The Challenger Newspapers. Encore Magazine is a weekly arts and entertainment publication.
The Wilmington television market is ranked 130 in the United States, and is the smallest DMA in North Carolina. The broadcast stations are as follows:
Cable news station News 14 Carolina also maintains its coastal bureau in Wilmington.
On September 8, 2008, at 12 noon, WWAY, WECT, WSFX, WILM-LP and W51CW all turned off their analog signals, making Wilmington the first market in the nation to go digital-only as part of a test by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to iron out transition and reception concerns before the nationwide shutoff. Wilmington was chosen as the test market because the area's digital channel positions will remain unchanged after the transition. As the area's official conduit of emergency information, WUNJ did not participate in the early analog switchoff, and kept their analog signal on until the national digital switchover date of June 12, 2009. W47CK did not participate due to its low-power status; FCC rules currently exempt low-powered stations from the 2009 analog shutdown. WILM-LP and W51CW chose to participate, even though they are exempt as LPTV stations.
Despite Tropical Storm Hanna making landfall southwest of Wilmington two days before (September 6), the switchover continued as scheduled. The ceremony was marked by governmental and television representatives flipping a large switch (marked with the slogan "First in Flight, First in Digital") from analog to digital.
Public and listener-supported
The Wilmington Sharks are a Coastal Plain League (CPL) baseball team in Wilmington that was founded in 1997 and was among the charter organizations when the CPL was formed that same year. The roster is made up of top collegiate baseball players fine-tuning their skills using wood bats to prepare for professional baseball. Their stadium is located at Buck Hardee Field at Legion Stadium in Wilmington.
The Wilmington Sea Dawgs are a Tobacco Road Basketball League (TRBL) team in Wilmington that began its inaugural season with the American Basketball Association (ABA) in November 2006 and have also played in the Premier Basketball League, and the Continental Basketball League.
The Wilmington Hammerheads are a professional soccer team based in Wilmington. They were founded in 1996 and played in the United Soccer Leagues Second Division. Their stadium was the Legion Stadium. After the 2009 season, the USL discontinued their relationship with the franchise owner Chuck Sullivan. The Hammerheads franchise returned in 2011.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington sponsors 19 intercollegiate sports and has held Division 1 membership in the NCAA since 1977. UNCW competes in the Colonial Athletic Association and has been a member since 1984.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington is also home to the Seamen Ultimate Frisbee team. The team won the National Championship in 1993 and most recently qualified for the USA Ultimate College Nationals tournament in 2014
The Cape Fear Rugby Football Club is an amateur rugby club playing in USA Rugby South Division II. They were founded in 1974 and hosts the annual Cape Fear Sevens Tournament held over July 4 weekend; hosting teams from all over the world. They own their own rugby pitch located at 21st and Chestnut St.
Off and on, from 1900 to 2001, Wilmington has been home to a professional minor league baseball team. The Wilmington Pirates, a Cincinnati Reds farm team, were one of the top clubs in the Tobacco State League from 1946-50. Most recently the Wilmington Waves, a Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, played in the South Atlantic League. Former All Star catcher Jason Varitek played for Wilmington's Port City Roosters in 1995 and 1996. In 1914 the Philadelphia Phillies held spring training in Wilmington.
Wilmington is a sister city with the following cities: