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Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences
Department of History


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Historic Photos of Wilmington

For a century after its incorporation in 1740, Wilmington, North Carolina remained a sleepy port city. Then, the coming of steam-power, especially railroad and steamship, enabled a steady growth. War, whether the Civil War with its blockade-runners or the shipbuilding born of the world conflicts of the 1900s, brought more growth. With that expansion came, of course, growing pains.

The story of Wilmington is a story of rivers, sounds, and sea, and of a city that grew near the places where those waters mingled. It is the story of a port that became the Lifeline of the Confederacy as well as the lifeline of a state. And in this case, it is the story of over a hundred years of history (1860s to 1970s) told through almost two-hundred photographs, the captured essences of people and events now lost.