Once dubbed Murder Town, USA, the city of Wilmington is now considered one of America’s best small cities.
The online lifestyle site thrillist.com enlisted help from dozens of writers across the country to help collate a list of the 15 best small cities with max populations of 70,000 to move to, before they get too popular.
“We looked for up-and-coming hotspots (think, Asheville 10 years ago), underappreciated gems, and towns where a person with verve could scratch out a cool life,” the article read.
While Wilmington’s population came in a smidge above the population limit, with 71,000 residents, it still made the cut.
“Delaware’s biggest city has undergone massive changes in the last decade,” the article read. “Major financial institutions — J.P. Morgan, Barclays, BlackRock — have shifted jobs to Wilmington, sending an influx of young professionals (and their salaries) that has breathed new life into the city’s cultural landmarks like the Queen Theater and the iconic Hotel du Pont.”
Entertainment company Live Nation recently took over management of the Queen Theater, promising to bring big name acts and large crowds downtown; Wilmington developer Buccini/Pollin Group has added thousands of modern apartments with amenities along Market Street and down by the Riverfront; and the close proximity to Dogfish Head’s craft brewery in Milton, Delaware all contributed to Wilmington’s ranking.
Additionally, the article highlighted the city and state’s recent efforts to support entrepreneurship and start ups through public-private partnerships. By offering things like shared workspaces and guidance to help entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground, city and state leaders hope to attract in-demand tech talent (i.e. millenials) to the First State.
“Organizations and people throughout Wilmington are working hard to raise the city’s standing in real life where it matters, as well as in polls or rankings that purport to show our city’s performance based on certain criteria,” said Mike Purzycki, Wilmington mayor. “While we are flattered, we take these types of rankings with a grain of salt, knowing they can be good or bad in any given poll or ranking, but we don’t shy away from our ultimate goal which is to make Wilmington a much safer, more attractive, and more prosperous city.”
Purzycki’s response was understandably measured given that Wilmington was labeled Murder Town by Newsweek magazine just three years ago. Regardless of this particular ranking, Purzycki said Wilmington continues to take steps to improve the quality of life for citizens.
“For every ‘best of’ ranking, there are sure to be a few ‘worst of’ rankings,” Purzycki said. “Ultimately, we see the rankings, good or bad, as a reminder that change is the only constant and the effort to improve our city and its image must never stop.”
Thrillist’s best small cities list also included Delray Beach, Florida; Northampton, Massachusetts; Joshua Tree, California; Portland, Maine; Port Chester, New York; Hood River, Oregon; Bisbee, Arizona; Greenville, South Carolina; Golden, Colorado; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; San Marcos, Texas; Burlington, Iowa; Bozeman, Montana; and Rogers, Arkansas.