Dover, Delaware

city in and county seat of Kent County, Delaware, United States, and capital city of Delaware

Dover is the capital city of the U.S. state of Delaware. It is the county seat of Kent County, which is in the middle of the state. Dover had 39,403 people in 2020.[2]

Dover, Delaware
City of Dover
West Loockerman Street in downtown Dover, Delaware.
West Loockerman Street in downtown Dover, Delaware.
Location in Kent County and the state of Delaware.
Location in Kent County and the state of Delaware.
Dover is located in Delaware
Location within Delaware
Coordinates: 39°09′29″N 75°31′28″W / 39.15806°N 75.52444°W / 39.15806; -75.52444
CountryUnited States
Founded1683; 341 years ago (1683)
 • Total23.97 sq mi (62.09 km2)
 • Land23.67 sq mi (61.30 km2)
 • Water0.30 sq mi (0.30 km2)
30 ft (9 m)
 • Total39,403
 • Density1,600/sq mi (630/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code302



William Penn founded Dover as the court town for newly established Kent County in 1683. Penn was the proprietor of the territory generally known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware." In 1717, a special commission of the Delaware General Assembly laid out the city. The capital of the state of Delaware was moved here from Newcastle in 1777 because of its central location and relative safety from British raiders on the Delaware River. Because of an act passed in October 1779, the assembly elected to meet at any place in the state they saw fit, meeting successively in Wilmington, Lewes, Dover, Newcastle, and Lewes again, until the capital moved to Dover permanently in October 1781.[3] The city's central square, known as The Green, was the location of many rallies, troop reviews, and other patriotic events. Today, The Green remains the heart of Dover's historic district and is the location of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Kent County Courthouse.

Dover was most famously the home of Caesar Rodney, the popular wartime leader of Delaware during the American Revolution.

Dover and Kent County were deeply divided over the issue of slavery, and the city was a "stop" on the Underground Railroad. It was also home to a large Quaker community that encouraged a sustained emancipation effort in the early nineteenth century. There were very few slaves in the area, but a majority of people wanted to keep slavery legal until the Civil War.



The main north–south highway through Dover is U.S. Route 13, which runs through the main commercial strip of Dover on the multi-lane, divided Dupont Highway. An alternate route of U.S. Route 13, U.S. Route 13 Alternate, passes through downtown Dover on Governors Avenue. The Delaware Route 1 turnpike, which provides the main route to Wilmington and the Delaware beaches, passes to the east of Dover. It ends near the Dover Air Force Base and DE 1 continues south on Bay Road. U.S. Route 113 formerly ran along Bay Road from Milford to US 13 near the State Capitol Complex, however it was decommissioned in 2004 to avoid the concurrency with DE 1 between the Dover Air Force Base and Milford. Delaware Route 8 is the main east–west route through Dover, passing through downtown on Division Street and West Dover on Forrest Avenue. It continues west toward Maryland to provide access to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Dover is one of only four state capitals not served by an interstate highway.[Note 1]

Dover Air Force Base is inside the southeast corporate limits of Dover, however the closest sizable civilian airport to Dover is the New Castle Airport in New Castle. The closest airports with commercial air service to Dover include the Wicomico Regional Airport in Salisbury, Maryland, the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dover is on a former Pennsylvania Railroad line, which is now served by Norfolk Southern. At one time Dover had a daily Amtrak passenger service; however, the line now is just used for local freight. The closest passenger rail station is the Amtrak station in Wilmington.

DART First State provides weekday local bus service throughout Dover, speading from the Water Street Transfer Center in downtown. They also provide inter-county service to Wilmington and Georgetown and seasonal service to Rehoboth Beach.

Greyhound Lines are provided as inter-city bus transportation.



Dover has Delaware State University, a land-grant university and Delaware's only historically black university, and Wesley College. It is also home to the Terry Campus of the Delaware Technical & Community College and that college's administrative offices. Dover also has satellite locations of the University of Delaware and Wilmington University.

Three public high schools serve Dover residents. Caesar Rodney High School, in the Caesar Rodney School District (just outside the city in Camden); Dover High School, in the Capital School District; and Polytech High School, in the Polytech School District (in Woodside).

The Dover Air Force Base Middle School is on the grounds of the Dover Air Force Base. This school is unusual in that it is run by the Caesar Rodney School District and not the Department of Defense.

  1. Pierre, South Dakota; Jefferson City, Missouri; and Juneau, Alaska are the other four state capitals without interstate highways.


  1. "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Dover city, Delaware". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2023.
  3. Munroe, John A. History of Delaware. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001. p 75.