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City residents live between the river and the ocean, with four nearby beach communities: Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, all within half-hour drives from downtown Wilmington.In 2003 the city was designated by the US Congress as a "Coast Guard City".The ethnic European and African history of Wilmington spans more than two and a half centuries.In the early 16th century, explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano was reportedly the first European to see this area, including the city's present site.On October 19, 1765, several hundred townspeople gathered in protest of the new law, burned an effigy of one town resident who favored the act, and toasted to "Liberty, Property, and No Stamp Duty." On October 31, another crowd gathered in a symbolic funeral of "Liberty".But before the effigy was buried, Liberty was found to have a pulse, and celebration ensued.
In 2014 Wilmington's riverfront was ranked as the "Best American Riverfront" by readers of USA Today.
"Dream Stage 10," the facility's newest sound stage, is the third-largest in the US.
It houses the largest special-effects water tank in North America.
The area along the river had been inhabited by various successive cultures of indigenous peoples for thousands of years.
At the time of European encounter, historic Native Americans were members of tribes belonging to the Algonquian family.