The first American state. One of 21 states with milk as the state beverage, out of 28 states with a state beverage. Home to the first breakwater in the western hemisphere. The first American state to have a star named after it. Where Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich Manoeuvre, was born. Home to ‘World Championship Punkin Chunkin’, or ‘pumping chucking’ to none pumpkin chucking enthusiasts. And it’s the only state with bicycling as its official state sport. Today, we’re in the First State, Delaware.
Delaware is a state in northeast America, bordered by Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, plus the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second smallest state at nearly 2,500 square miles, with the 45th largest population with just over 935,000 people. The state motto is ‘Liberty and Independence’, and it was named after Thomas West, 3rd and 12th Baron De La Warr.
Delaware is a diverse state despite its small size, diversity celebrated in many festivals, parades, fairs and carnivals. It’s also famed for its wine, ale and farmers markets. Delawareans love their NASCAR racing and local sports teams, and are friendly and peaceful, and enjoy a quieter and more traditional pace of life.
It’s a largely flat and green state, often punctuated by hills, rolling landscapes, pastures and small yet dense forests. It’s also known for its gorgeous sandy beaches, beautiful parks, marshy regions and its hundreds of lakes and ponds. An exciting and colourful state with plenty to do and see.
There are sites to visit such as the tiny Holy Trinity Church, also known as Old Swedes Church. It’s one of America’s oldest churches, built in 1699. It’s incredibly adorable, nestled majestically among tall green trees and surrounded by perfectly kempt grounds. A church that really does look like it’s from a long time ago. Farther south, there’s Cape Henlopen State Park, covering over 5,000 acres and defined by its amazing sandy beaches and rolling dunes. And it’s full of history and tradition, with gun platforms, bunkers, fire control towers and concrete observation towers rising dramatically from the barren sands – all remnants of World War Two defence systems. A remarkable place indeed. Elsewhere, you have Wilmington Railway Station, its striking traditional red brick facade creating an alluring and dominant building, truly mirable in its breathtaking simplicity. And then there’s the wonderfully eclectic masterpiece that is Zwaanendael Museum, a pulchritudinous marvel inspired greatly by traditional Dutch architecture, to commemorate the founding of Delaware’s first European settlement, by the Dutch. A blithesome, quirky and ever so charming delight.
I think the best sight of the state is Nemours Mansion and Gardens, a country estate with jardin à la française formal gardens covering 300 acres. I think if you want to sum up Delaware in a photo, this is about as close as you’re gonna get. It’s like a Garden of Eden, a prelapsarian, tranquil and calming paradise of luscious green trees, the brightest flowers and most splendid classic features, all combining to create a lambent empyrean wonder. It feels European and sumptuous, enrapturing one in its ability to feel like a slice of the old days, a long forgotten world. It really could ameliorate the coldest heart with its electric grace.
Delaware. The state of beauty, firsts and bicycles.
Images: 1) The flag of Delaware (credit: wikimedia.org), 2) Nemours Mansion and Gardens (credit: pixgood.com), 3) Zwaanendael Museum (credit: extraordinarydelawarerealestate.com)
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