New Castle, Delaware
Community History and Archaeology Program 

New Castle Waterfront (circa 1830)
Robert Shaw (1859-1912) 

Click on image to enlarge
With permission Historical Society of Delaware

This lovely watercolor made available as a print by the Historical Society of Delaware was painted by Shaw c1895  The buildings with steeples are readily recognizable:  the courthouse with a single addition, the town hall  and Immanuel church (whose steeple was completed after 1820 remodeling).  Shaw created many paintings of historic Delaware. He is said to have been accurate in his rendering of the landscape.  However, the courthouse had two wings in 1830, the van Leuvenigh house and Presbyterian Church are missing, the Immanuel Church is relocated, the beach in the foreground and the houses with galleries to the right of the Delaware street wharf may be the artist's fancy to say nothing of the color of the river.  Of note in the enlarged image is the side paddle-wheel steamer at about the level of Packet Alley.

It may be that Shaw's picture is derived from an earlier one mentioned in the November 26, 1906 Sunday Star article by Alexander B. Cooper "The Transportation and Means of Transportation between Philadelphia and Baltimore, via New Castle" (The History of New Castle, Delaware, Part XVIII). He wrote:

One of the last packet boats was the "Union," Captain Collins' boat. The writer has recently seen an excellent engraving, of Woodside's, which represents a fine panel picture, taken from the steamboat "New Castle." It shows the whole river front of the town, and the buildings erected on it. About where the remains of the old "Coal Wharf," now are, appears a large sandy beach, and in the water along the beach are four of the old semi-oval coaches, with four horses attached to each. At this point the drivers used to water the horses, and soak the wheels of the coaches.

Just beyond them, a little further up the river, a packet boat is anchored, with a pennant floating from her mast head, upon which plainly appears the word, "Union." Some distance further up the steamboat, "New Castle" is seen approaching the wharf. The original panel picture is now owned and in possession of ——Forsyth, of St. Louis, Mo., who married Miss ——Janvier, of the New Castle Janvier family.

The pictures are not the same, since the packet boat does not have a pennant flying, and the steamboat has no markings on it. If the "panel picture" had been taken from the steamboat "New Castle", it was presumably before the boat was sold in 1835. It would be interesting to see a presumably accurate picture of New Castle c1835 from either the engraving or original "panel picture".