Wilmington was named in honor of Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington, who was Prime Minister under George II.
Wilmington was settled on the Cape Fear River and offers its historic downtown with its one mile long Riverwalk as a main tourist attraction. It is minutes away from nearby beaches. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Wilmington, North Carolina one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. City residents have the advantage of living nestled between the river and the ocean with Wrightsville Beach a short 20 minute drive from downtown.
In 2003 the city received, through an act of Congress, the designation of “A Coast Guard City”. The city is also home port for the USCGC Diligence, a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter.
Wilmington is also known as the childhood home of basketball great Michael Jordan and journalist David Brinkley; famous Wilmington natives include Robert Ruark, Sonny Jurgenson, Charles Kuralt, Charlie Daniels, Roman Gabriel, Meadowlark Lemon, Trot Nixon and Alge Crumpler.
It is also home to the World War II Battleship USS North Carolina. Now a war memorial, the ship is open to public tours and is on display across from the downtown port area.
The town is home to the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the Wilmington Hammerheads USL soccer team, the training camp site for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Cape Fear Museum.
The city has become a major center of American film and television production; motion pictures such as A Walk To Remember, Blue Velvet, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Empire Records, Cape Fear, Black Knight, 28 Days, The Crow (death place of Brandon Lee), Nights in Rodanthe and the controversial Dakota Fanning film Hounddog; as well as television shows such as Matlock, Surface, The WB’s Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill have been produced here.