About Wilmington, NC

Wilmington is a city in New Hanover County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 100,000 as of 2006;2005 Census Bureau estimates indicate a population of 95,476. The 2006 Census Bureau estimates set the population of the Wilmington MSA at 326,166, making it the seventh largest metropolitan area in the state. It is the county seat of New Hanover County. It was named in honor of Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington, who was Prime Minister under George II.

Wilmington was settled on the Cape Fear River and is located in North Carolina’s Inner Banks region. Wilmington offers its historic downtown as a main tourist attraction and business center and is minutes away from nearby beaches. The city residents have the advantage of living nestled between a river and the ocean.

The city is famous for its breathtaking beaches, amazing seafood restaurants, and historic plantations; but this city’s most enchanting quality is her residents. The people of Wilmington are kind, welcoming, and hardworking; they are proud to call Wilmington home.

The cultural opportunities in Wilmington are endless; aquariums, museums, historical sites, festivals, libraries, film studios, theatres, plantations and more can be enjoyed in this richly cultured city.

Wilmington is also known as the childhood home of basketball great Michael Jordan and journalist David Brinkley; famous Wilmington natives include Kevin Beasley, Sonny Jurgenson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Charles Kuralt, Charlie Daniels, Roman Gabriel, Meadowlark Lemon, Trot Nixon, and Alge Crumpler. It is also home to the WWII Battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55). Now a war memorial, the ship is open to public tours and is on display across from the downtown port area. The town is home to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the Wilmington Hammerheads USL soccer team, the training camp site for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Cape Fear Museum. The city has become a major center of American film and television production; motion pictures such as Blue Velvet and The Crow as well as television shows such as The WB’s Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill have been produced there.


With the influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream, some 45-60 miles offshore, Historic Wilmington and North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast – Carolina Beach, Kure Beach & Wrightsville Beach enjoy a temperate subtropical climate year-round. Summer temperatures are usually in the 80s. Seasons are mild, with an average 212 sunshine days and a mean average temperature of 63.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The average winter temperature is about 50 degrees.

  • Winters are generally cool with temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s F. Snowfall does occur on occasion.
  • Spring is slightly breezy with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. The presence of abundant dense vegetation in the area causes significant pollen dusting in the springtime that tends to turn rooftops and cars yellow.
  • Summer brings humidity with temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s F. Heat Indexes can easily break the 100ºF mark. Due to the proximity of warm Atlantic Ocean waters, the area may be hit by a tropical cyclone during the summer, at an average of once every 7 years.
  • Fall is also generally humid at the beginning, with the same tropical threats as the summer. Temperatures hover mostly in the 70’s and 80’s. Some of the deciduous trees may lose their leaves; however most trees in the area are evergreens and therefore remain green year-round.
  • Annual Average High Temperatures: 90°F (summer) 60°F (winter)
  • Annual Average Low Temperatures 72°F (summer) 38°F (winter)
  • Highest Recorded Temperature: 104°F (1952)
  • Lowest Recorded Temperature: 0°F (1989)
  • Warmest Month: July
  • Coolest Month: January
  • Highest Precipitation: July
  • Annual Precipitation: 57.07 inches


Although there had been attempts to settle the Cape Fear region in the 1600s, the first permanent English settlers established themselves in the area in the 1720s. The town of Wilmington was incorporated in 1739. A number of the first settlers of the region came from South Carolina and Barbados. Slavery came early to the region, as landowners used slave labor to exploit the region’s natural resources. The forest provided the region’s major industries through the 18th and most of the 19th century: naval stores and lumber fueled the economy both before and after the American Revolution.

Captain William Gordon Rutherfurd, (1765 – 14 January 1818), who commanded HMS Swiftsure in Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar, was born in Wilmington.

Thomas Peters, an early founder of Sierra Leone, escaped from slavery in Wilmington during the American Revolution.

During the Civil War the port was a major base for Confederate blockade runners. It was captured by Union forces only in February of 1865, approximately one month after the fall of Fort Fisher had closed the port. Since almost all the action was some distance from the city itself, a number of Antebellum homes and other buildings are still extant.


As of the census of 2005, there were 96,354 people, 40,649 households, and 19,398 families residing in the city; according to census bureau estimates, the 2004 population is 93,292. The population density was 714.2/km² (1,849.8/mi²). There were 38,678 housing units at an average density of 364.2/km² (943.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.57% White, 25.82% African American, 0.35% Native American, 0.90% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 1.14% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.63% of the population.

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. 


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