Cape Fear Historic Byway

The Cape Fear Historic Byway is a unique urban North Carolina Scenic Byway located within the heart of downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. The well-preserved architecture of the downtown civic buildings and homes adds to the small-town feel of this southeastern United States port city. The byway is made up of the following component landscapes:

Wilmington Waterfront (N. Front Street and Water Street) provides visitors with spectacular views of the Cape Fear River and the undeveloped western shore. The Riverwalk, part of the 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway, is a vibrant pedestrian promenade offering dining, shopping, and sites for archaeological and historical interpretation. Other unique features of the Wilmington Waterfront include civic buildings dating back to the 1700’s, portions of streets paved with brick, and archaeological relics of sunken ships along the western shore.

Old Wilmington Residential District (S. Front Street, Castle Street, S. 3rd Street) is sheltered by large canopy live oak trees and beautifully detailed historic residential architecture. Remnants of the horse and carriage era are evident, such as carriage steps, horse ties and troughs as well as monuments to significant historical figures. This segment of the byway traverses the highest concentration of historic sites in downtown Wilmington.

Dry Pond is home to the Historic Dry Pond Neighborhood and includes the edge of the popular New Castle Street Art and Antique District—home to several successful ‘mom and pop’ businesses. The Dry Pond segment of the byway runs along S. 5th Avenue, a corridor shaded by large canopy live oaks, linking the Old Wilmington Residential District to Greenfield Park and Gardens.

Greenfield Park and Gardens is a lush oasis in an urban environment that offers a multitude of recreational activities and provides habitat for numerous bird species and other wildlife. The byway traverses the perimeter of Greenfield Lake and includes a paved multi-use trail that is also part of the East Coast Greenway.

The N. 3rd Street Civic Corridor begins north of Market Street and terminates the northern end of the byway at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, the Isabel Holmes Bridge and N. 3rd Street. Numerous historic civic buildings are located here and other sites are currently under renovation in the north. The 1898 Memorial Park, located at the intersection of N. 3rd Street and Davis Street, provides a space to commemorate the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 and honor the achievements of African-Americans and other Wilmingtonians who fought for civil rights in the 20th century.

Byway Context Maps and Route Map

The byway is located along the Cape Fear River, in the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina. The route of the byway is designed in a figure-eight configuration intended to raise awareness of, and to weave together the historical tapestry of neighborhoods, significant man-made structures, and natural beauty that already exists throughout downtown Wilmington. The byway meanders to provide safe crossings at signalized intersections and to expose visitors to a diversity of attractions, such as the New Castle Street Art and Antique District and Bellamy Mansion and Museum of History and Design Arts, both along the fringes of the official byway route.