A Brief History of Newark
The roots of Newark begin in 1758 as a small market village at the crossroads of two old Indian trails in northwestern New Castle County. The founding of what would later become the University of Delaware occurred in 1765 as a small grammar school. In 1837, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore railroad opens through Newark. By 1852 700 residents called Newark home with that figure doubling by 1900 with the arrival of railroads and industry. In 1921 Delaware College and the Women’s College of Delaware combined to form the University of Delaware. The university remains today the main economic force driving the city of Newark.
Other industries to call Newark home included the 1853-opened Curtis Paper Company along Paper Mill Road and the DelChapel Plant along South Chapel Street. The Chrysler Corporation opened a defense assembly plant in south Newark by 19511, which transitioned to automobile assembly in 1957. The Newark Assembly Plant operated until 2009. The site is now a part of an expanded University of Delaware campus.
What was once a small college blossomed into a full fledged university in the 1970s and early 1980s. The college roster swelled from about 5,000 students to 15,000 during that time period with limited expansion in available on-campus housing. Populations figures continued to grow to an astounding 21,000 students enrolled per year.1
During that time period the cosmetic makeup of the city underwent a massive change. Disappeared were the farmers market, mom and dad shops, and the small town atmosphere. Those amenities dissolved in the 1980s, leading to a short period of economic transition for the city. During the 1990s the business landscape of Newark, and Main Street in particular, underwent a metamorphosis that ultimately renewed the Downtown area as a place to visit, shop, dine, and party for college students and locals alike. Gone are the Newark Mini Mall, Woolworth, and the State Theater. Redevelopment of the city instead focused on places like the Main Street Galleria, Iron Hill Brewery, and several mixed-use developments with shops on the ground floor and apartments above.
The Newark of today continues to grow with redevelopment of existing parcels and in-fill development of remaining passive tracts. Congestion woes continue to be a problem, with a mix of traffic emanating from college students, residents, and commuters alike. As of 2010 the city is home to 31,454 residents including the University on-campus population.
Delaware 2 originates at the intersection of Delaware 72 (Library Avenue) and Delaware 273 (East Main Street) in east Newark, following Capitol Trail east by the Windy Hills subdivision to exit the city at White Clay Creek. The state route overlaps with SR 72 from SR 273 to Possum Park Road before traveling solo toward Wilmington.
Historically Delaware 2 extended west through Newark along a combination of the couplet between Main Street (west) and Delaware Avenue (east) to Elkton Road. The state route transitioned to Maryland 279 at the state line en route to Interstate 95 (Exit 109) and Elkton. A change was made to the SR 2 alignment in 1988, sending the route along Christina Parkway east to Chestnut Hill Road (SR 4). The relocation was made to reroute through traffic away from the central business district and University of Delaware campus.
Delaware 2 was redirected onto Christina Parkway along side Delaware 4, Chestnut Hill Road (Delaware 4) between Delaware 896 (South College Avenue) and Delaware 72 (South Chapel Street) and an overlap with SR 72 north to Library Avenue to Capitol Trail. The former alignment through Downtown was redesigned as Delaware 2 Business.
Changes to Delaware 2 occurred again in fall 2013 when DelDOT moved forward on a plan to truncate SR 2 east from the state line to Library Avenue at East Main Street. This coincided with both the removal of Delaware 2 Business through Downtown and the establishment of Delaware 279 along the 1.05-mile stretch of Elkton Road leading west from Christina Parkway (Delaware 4). The renumbering was conducted to simply the Newark state route network.
Former SR 2 Business – Elkton Road / Main Street / Delaware Avenue
Delaware 2 Business supplanted Delaware 2 through Newark between Delaware 4 (Christina Parkway) and Delaware 72 (Library Avenue) in 1988. The state route followed Elkton Road northeast from Delaware 2, along side Delaware 896 north, to the outskirts of Downtown Newark. There Delaware 2 Business & 896 joined Delaware 273 along the one-way couplet of Main Street (westbound) and Delaware Avenue (eastbound). Delaware 896 leaves the overlap at College Avenue as Delaware 2 Business & 273 eastbound continued to Delaware 2 & 72 (Library Avenue) where the business route ended.
Delaware 273 east turns northward from Delaware Avenue onto Library Avenue (SR 72) to rejoin its westbound component at the intersection of East Main Street and Ogletown Road. Delaware 2 Business westbound began at the same intersection, coinciding with Delaware 273 west along Main Street to Elkton Road (South Main Street).
Elkton Road was renamed South Main Street between West Park Place and West Main Street officially on January 1, 2013. The new name accompanies the new look of Elkton Road, which was reconstructed from a four-lane arterial into a two-lane boulevard east of Apple Road. These moves preceded the Newark renumbering plan in fall 2013 that eliminated Delaware 2 Business.
Christina Parkway / Chestnut Hill Road
Delaware 4 between Newark and Wilmington was the second alignment posted for the state route in Delaware. It was posted during the 1960s along Chestnut Hill Road east from the Maryland state line to Ogletown and points east. Chestnut Hill Road originally ran west to become a part of Maryland 279 through to its former alignment along Appleton Road into Elkton. Construction of Maryland’ Northeastern Expressway (Interstate 95) in 1963 severed Chestnut Hill Road between Elkton Road and the state line.
Chestnut Hill Road carried all of Delaware 4 south through the Newark area until 1985, when Christina Parkway was completed between Elkton Road (SR 2) and South College Avenue (SR 896). The new Christina Parkway shifted the state route onto a new northerly alignment starting at SR 2, one mile from the state border.
Christina Parkway carries four overall lanes with the exception of a two-lane span across the AMTRAK Northeast Corridor. Delaware 896 joins Delaware 4 along the 1.4-mile road, completing a bypass of the University of Delaware campus from Elkton Road to South College Avenue. East from there, Christina Parkway transitions to Chestnut Hill Road in name, overtaking the original two-lane alignment east to unincorporated Brookside. Between 1988 and 2013, Delaware 4 doubled as Delaware 2 east from Elkton Road to Delaware 72 (South Chapel Street).
South Chapel Street / Library Avenue
Delaware 72 originally followed Paper Mill Road 2.1 miles southward from Possum Park Road to the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and North Chapel Street in Newark. The state route continued southward along Chapel Street 1.4 miles to the rural intersection of Library Avenue and Old South Chapel Street. In 1972 as part of a statewide project to eliminate at-grade railroad crossings, a new alignment of Delaware 72 was constructed to bypass the AMTRAK railroad crossing to the east. Known as Library Avenue, the new roadway branched northeast from South Chapel Street to span the railroad through to Wyoming Road and Delaware Avenue (SR 273 east). Coinciding with the road work was the creation of Wyoming Road between South Chapel Street and Library Avenue. Upon completion of the project, Chapel Street became discontinuous between East Park Place and a point one half mile to the south.
With the completion of the AMTRAK overpass and Library Avenue, Delaware 72 saw relocation away from Paper Mill Road and Chapel Street through central Newark. North from Library Avenue, Delaware 72 joins Delaware 2 east along Capitol Trail to Possum Park Road outside the Newark city limits. Possum Park directs the route northwest 1.9 miles back to Paper Mill Road at Thompson State Road. Southward from Library Avenue and South Chapel Street, Delaware 72 intersects Delaware 4 (Chestnut Hill Road) before exiting the city en route to Wrangle Hill and Delaware City.
Nottingham Road, Main Street, Delaware Avenue, Ogletown Road
Delaware 273 is the last state route through Newark to remain on its original alignment. Forming a multi-state route with Maryland 273 east from Rising Sun, Delaware 273 follows Nottingham Road through northwest Newark. The two-lane road undulates by some of the nicer residential areas of the city, including the rolling greens of Newark Country Club. Nottingham Road intersects Casho Mill Road, a secondary north-south road between Delaware 273 and Elkton Road, at the base of the Christina River valley along side Timber Creek Park. East from there Nottingham Road ascends to the intersection of Bent Lane where Delaware 273 becomes West Main Street.
Delaware 273 (West Main Street) joins Delaware 896 south at Hillside Road, 1.7 miles from the Maryland state line. SR 896 south overlaps with SR 273 between the intersection of Cleveland and Hillside Avenues to the east end of South Main Street. SR 896 north overlaps with SR 273 west on the block of West Main Street between South College Avenue and New London Road.
A one-way couplet carries Delaware 273 through Downtown Newark. Eastbound splits from westbound at the junction of West Main Street, New London Road, and South Main Street (formerly Elkton Road). There eastbound turns southwest briefly on South Main Street before resuming an easterly course on Delaware Avenue. Westbound Delaware 273 follows all of Main Street through the business district.
Delaware Avenue flows east to end at Delaware 72 (Library Avenue) opposite the entrance to College Square Shopping Center. There SR 273 turns north onto SR 72 for two tenths of a mile to rejoin westbound along Ogletown.
Delaware 273 exits Newark along a four-lane divided arterial en route to Christiana. This stretch was expanded from two lanes between 1996 and 1998 to coincide with a new alignment through Ogletown. The new expressway segment bypassed the Avon underpass below AMTRAK and includes a partial interchange and grade separation at Delaware 4 (Ogletown Stanton Road).
Delaware 273 Truck – Hillside Roa
There were signs posted along the one block area of Hillside Road (Delaware 896 south) between West Main Street (Delaware 273) and New London Road (Delaware 896 north) during the 1990s. The path of the truck route was uncertain and signs were removed by 2000.
Delaware 279 was designated in fall 2013 over the westernmost 1.05 miles of Elkton Road over former Delaware 2. SR 279 begins at Elkton Road (SR 896) and Christina Parkway (SR 4), replacing SR 2 southwest to become Maryland 279 ahead of Interstate 95 and Elkton. A number of industrial businesses front Elkton Road through to the state line. Otts Chapel Road also ties in from the Glasgow area and U.S. 40 (via Pleasant Valley Road).
College Avenue, Christina Parkway, Elkton Road, South Main Street, New London Road
An import from Pennsylvania, Delaware 896 (New London Road) actually enters the state from a short unsigned portion of Maryland 896 at the Northeastern corner of that state. The two-lane highway links the city of Newark with rural Chester County, Pennsylvania and the U.S. 30 corridor at Lancaster. Upon entering the Diamond State, Delaware 896 encounters beautiful White Clay Creek State Park. The two-lane highway features full shoulders and a 50 mile per hour speed limit north of the Newark city line and a 35 mile per hour speed lime south of Scotch Pine Road through Newark.
1.2 miles into the city of Newark is the split of north and southbound Delaware 896 into separate components. Delaware 896 partitions between the one-way couplet of Delaware Avenue east, South College Avenue north, West Main Street west and New London Road north as SR 896 north and Hillside Road west, West Main Street east, South Main Street west for SR 896 south. All portions of this couplet, with the exception of New London Road, doubles as Delaware 273
The alignment of Delaware 896 used to be cut and dry through central Newark. The state route originally followed South College Avenue southward from Delaware Avenue (SR 273 east) and West Main Street (SR 273 west) through the University of Delaware campus to south Newark. Main Street and New London Road were striped for two-way traffic at that time and Delaware 896 followed them exclusively with no separation of its north and southbound components. Changes came to the alignment when the city of Newark restriped Delaware Avenue, Main Street, and the southernmost block of New London Road into one way streets.
Additional changes to Delaware 896 occurred in the 1980s. In an effort to move traffic away from the University of Delaware campus and Downtown in general, Delaware 896 was relocated to an overlap with Delaware 2 along Elkton Road and Delaware 4 along Christina Parkway to bypass central Newark. Reasoning for the relocation involved the many crosswalks and pedestrians traveling across the University of Delaware campus between Park Place and West Main Street. Also of interest along South College Avenue is the 1960s railroad crossing over the AMTRAK Northeast corridor. A short one-block spur to Holton Place remains west of the overpass as a former alignment of SR 896.
South College Avenue transitions into a four-lane arterial beyond the AMTRAK under crossing by the University of Delaware athletic facilities, including the football stadium and Bob Carpenter Center (basketball arena / concert venue), through to Interstate 95. Delaware 896 rejoins South College Avenue from Christina Parkway (Delaware 4), 1.7 miles south of Downtown. The state route proceeds another half mile to a partial cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 95 and an exit of the city.
The Newark Beltway
The Newark beltway consisted of a proposed network of roads encircling the city from the west, south, and east between the Maryland state line and Delaware 7 (Limestone Road). Around 1970 a study was undertaken by the state of Delaware to construct a multi lane highway around the growing city of Newark. The intention of this highway was to provide adequate transportation infrastructure for the expanding city. As envisioned, the beltway would have followed existing Delaware 4, a new alignment along the state line (roughly parallel to Casho Mill Road), a new alignment through what is now White Clay Creek State Park, portions of current Linden Hill Road and Delaware 72 (Possum Park Road), and a portion along the defunct Pike Creek Freeway.
Newark Beltway: South
The aforementioned Delaware 4 (Christina Parkway and Chestnut Hill Road) encompasses the southern segment of the beltway. East from Elkton Road (Delaware 279) to Delaware 72 (South Chapel Street), Delaware 4 exists almost entirely as a four-lane divided facility with at-grade intersections. This was not the original plan as interchanges were slated for Delaware 4 at key intersections. Of the interchanges planned, a standard diamond was considered at Robscott Manor (Argyle Road) and the adjacent University of Delaware athletic facilities. Unfortunately for planners the interchange drew heavy criticism that ultimately led to its cancellation and subsequent downgrading of Delaware 4 from controlled access standards to an at-grade facility.
The beltway section from old Chestnut Hill Road to Elkton Road was constructed as Christiana Parkway. Built in 1985, the parkway carries four lanes overall with the exception of a two-lane bridge across the AMTRAK Northeast Corridor. Two signalized intersections, the one east of AMTRAK added in 1998, served Chrysler’ Newark Assembly Plant. The automobile factory closed down in 2009, with redevelopment of the site undertaken by University of Delaware.
Newark Beltway: West
A late 1990s proposal arose to extend Christina Parkway northward from Elkton Road (SR 279) to Barksdale Road. The extension was intended to open inaccessible land for development while providing a through route for Cecil County traffic traveling through Newark. The original beltway alignment generally followed the arc of Christina Parkway northward along the state line to Delaware 273 (Nottingham Road). The extension was never constructed, though a small portion of Suburban Drive added follows the intended path to big box retail added at Suburban Plaza Shopping Center.
Other proposals on how to address Cecil County traffic through Newark led to a debate between city and county officials from both areas. Newark political leaders advocated a new roadway on the Cecil County side of the state line, running north from Elkton Road to Maryland 273 (Nottingham Road). Cecil County leaders contended that a new road through the primarily rural stretch would be overrun with development, bringing unwelcome sprawl and congestion to the area. Newark officials countered that the roadway was essential for Maryland-based traffic that uses Delaware 273 through the city and that Maryland should accept more of the responsibility in solving the transportation problem.
Newark Beltway: North
The northern part of the beltway exists only on paper. The proposed route followed a path near Wedgewood, Pleasant Hill, and Hopkins Roads, mostly through what is now White Clay Creek State Park. A path between Hopkins Road to New Linden Hill Road, possibly by way of Delaware 72 (Possum Park Road), would turn traffic southeast into the Pike Creek Valley. South from there, the beltway alignment was very uncertain as preliminary discussion halted before alternatives were drawn.
Newark Beltway: East
The final element of the beltway plan utilized a portion of the proposed Pike Creek Freeway. The limited access highway appeared on maps running south from Delaware 7 (Limestone Road), by way of Linden Hill Road, to Interstate 95 near the Delaware Turnpike Service Area. The nonexistent Exit 2 on the Delaware Turnpike was reserved for the Pike Creek Freeway.
The Pike Creek Freeway was envisioned as an extension of the planned U.S. 301 freeway running south from the Delaware Turnpike to Middletown. The alignment stemmed northeastward from Interstate 95 across Delaware 4 and 273 to the intersection of Delaware 2 (Capitol Trail) with Harmony Road. There an interchange would facilitate movements between the freeway and Capitol Trail. A multi lane at-grade highway would continue northward along the path of Upper Pike Creek Road to Linden Hill Road, tieing into the northern segment of the beltway.
Other Newark Roads
- “Learning to be neighbors – Newark and the University of Delaware have experienced growing pains, but are working to forge a better partnership.” The News Journal (DE), April 22, 2002.
Page Updated February 14, 2017.