Dover was founded as the court town for newly established Kent County in 1683 by William Penn, the Proprietor of the territory generally known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware." Later, in 1717, a special commission of the Delaware General Assembly officially laid out the city. The capital of the state of Delaware was moved here from New Castle in 1777 due to its central location and relative safety from British raiders on the Delaware River. The city's central square, known as The Green, was the location of many rallies, troop reviews, and other patriotic events. It was also at the Green that Colonial delegates from Delaware were the first to ratify the United States Constitution, making Delaware "The First State." To this day, The Green remains the heart of Dover's historic district and is the location of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse.
The greatest periods of expansion in Dover occurred in the years following World War I and World War II. Completion of the DuPont Highway throughout the length of Delaware in 1924 acted as a catalyst. Between 1925 and 1936, Dover's limits were extended and its infrastructure improved.
In the years immediately following World War II, the City of Dover acquired lands for the construction of an airport. This land was developed and activated during World War II as the Dover Air Force Base. Following the war, personnel at the base was reduced to a housekeeping unit until reactivated by the Military Air Transport Service in 1954. Since that time, it has developed into one of the largest military freight terminals in the world and is home to the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings. The base is also home to the U.S. military's only mortuary located in the continental United States, which accepts and processes the remains of soldiers killed in battle.
Today, Dover is a thriving community. Residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional development continues at a stable rate. Dover supports four school districts and five colleges. The Dover Public Library and the Delaware State Library are available to residents at no charge. Thirteen major employers provide a diversity of employment opportunities from government to manufacturing.
Wilmington and attractions in the Brandywine Valley are only one hour's drive to the north. Delaware's beach resorts, including Lewes, Bethany, and Rehoboth, are only one hours drive to the south. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC are all within a two hour drive. Kent County puts you right in the middle of the charm and excitement of "America at its Best."
Nestled inside the many historical buildings in Downtown Dover is the Schwartz Center, which was reopened in October 2001 after an extensive modernization and expansion from its roots as the Dover Opera House. The Center offers a variety of shows, such as comedy acts, weekend showings of "Family Films and Classics" and the Dover Symphony among other performances. Every year numerous events are held around the City, ranging from fireworks on July 4th, Art Festivals, and Christmas Caroling on the Green to ethnic parades such as St. Patrick's Day and the African American Festival.
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