Wilmington’s National Park
The City of Wilmington is home to almost 70 public city parks, and two of the most important sites that make up Delaware’s only national park. The First State National Historical Park, established initially as a national monument in 2013 by President Barack Obama, was later formalized as a national park in the spring of 2015 by an act of Congress. The park now also includes the Wilmington locations of Old Swedes Church and Fort Christina. Wilmington residents, as well as visitors from around the country and around the world, are welcome to visit and learn about the remarkable story of the Delaware Valley’s first settlers, and their tremendous impact on the history of Wilmington, Delaware, and the nation.
Old Swedes Church
Old Swedes Church, located today in the East Side neighborhood of Wilmington, was originally built by Swedish and Finnish colonists between 1698-1699. It was the original Swedish and Finish settlers to the Delaware Valley who settled the lands along Christina River in 1638, after arriving aboard the Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip, and established the New Sweden colony. The burial grounds surrounding the church date back to the late 1630s. It now stands as the oldest continuously operating house of worship in the United States.
Fort Christina Park commemorates the exact location, known as “the Rocks”, where Swedish and Finnish colonists came ashore in 1638 and established the first Swedish settlement in the new world, Fort Christina. The fort was named by the settlers after Queen Christina of Sweden. For the next two decades, the fort and surrounding settlements developed into a successful trading post. By the second half of the 17th century the fort and surrounding settlement came under the authority of the Dutch, and later the English. Nevertheless, the Swedish settlers remained, and their decedents in the area became some of the original citizens of the City of Wilmington. The 300th anniversary of the original landing was celebrated in 1938 with the establishment of Fort Christina Park, attended by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and representatives of the Swedish royal family.
To learn more about the history of Old Swedes Church, Fort Christina, and the history of the New Sweden Colony, visit the Old Swedes Foundation website.
To plan your trip to Old Swedes Church and Fort Christina, visit the First State National Historical Park website.