About the City of Dover

The City of Dover is located in Central Delaware in Kent County and is the capital of Delaware. Dover is approximately 90 miles south of Philadelphia, PA, and 90 miles east of Washington, DC. While its population is significantly less than that of Wilmington, Delaware, Dover encompasses a larger area than any other city on the Delmarva Peninsula. In contrast to most major cities in the Northeast United States, Dover is continuing to grow economically, in population, and in land area. The City has an estimated population of 34,120 and a total land area of approximately 26,000 acres.

The City of Dover was founded in 1683 by William Penn. In 1717, it was officially laid out over an area of 125 acres by a commission of the Delaware General Assembly. It grew nearly 1,000 acres in size by 1960.

Prodded by the need for better fire protection emphasized by several fire losses, the Town began the establishment of a water system in 1881. Dover is fortunate to be located above an underground supply of water which did not require extensive treatment and has proved to be more than sufficient to meet its needs.

Electricity came to Dover about the year 1900 when the water plant became the Light and Water Plant with the installation of its first steam generating facility. Current was initially supplied for street lighting, but by the year 1902, electricity was being produced and sold for commercial lighting. The electric generation and distribution system grew with the Town and beyond the Town. Today Dover provides electricity to approximately 22,250 customers inside and outside City limits. It has a generating capacity of 175 megawatts. Annual customer sales are approximately $99 million.

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.

The firm, International Laytex Corporation, came to Dover in 1937 and was the first major non-agricultural industry in the City. It has since become a major source of employment in the area.

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.

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. Dover’s citizens are protected by a professional police force of over 90 uniformed officers. Fire protection is provided by a volunteer fire department, Robbins Hose Company.

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