Fourth of July

This past year my parents put my childhood home on the market. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel any great emotional response to these developments. Maybe it’s because my wife and I have been working hard to create our own home, or maybe it’s because I have spent so little time in my childhood home since I left for graduate school in the early 1990s.  Whatever the reason, I began to think about the area where I grew up on my long flight home from Cyprus and during my fitful attempts to negotiate jetlag over the past couple of days.

I realized that I did not know very much about where I grew up archaeologically. For example, I had no real idea when my childhood home was built. I had a vague feeling it was built in the 1960s, but nothing more specific than that. (I am regularly shamed by my buddy Kostis Kourelis meditations on his neighborhood in Philadelphia!). My efforts here are a low-key, more academic and hnerdtastic version of this.

I grew up in North Wilmington in a typical east coast suburb. My increasingly fragmented childhood memories include an index of hyperlocal places, routes, and features in the landscape. I plan to maps these in relation to contemporary and historical aerial photographs and maps in ArcGIS, and to record some of my memories here in text form.

Our summertime activities were centered on the nearby Windybush Swim Club – the local pool and “the street” – Wheatfield Drive – where our family home was. Our street (as I’ll talk about later in more detail) was largely built in the late 1960s.  The pool was built in a depression at the “bottom” of Windybush road to serve that community. The community was largely built in the 1950s and the pool was built in 1958.

As kids, each Fourth of July we would decorate our bikes and ride them first down our street (Wheatfield Drive) in a parade (presumably organized by the local civic association). After that, we’d parade down Windybush Road to the swim club where we’d have a cook out and do what, as kids, we’d do every day we could all summer – play in the pool.

Here’s the Google Streetview perspective of the route down Windybush Road.


To the pool.


I plotted our routes here on this GIS map.  The background image is from Bing Maps which integrates with ESRI’s ArcGIS (h/t to Brandon Olson).


Here I’ve used the 2007 digital 0.25 meter orthophotos of the State of Delaware at a scale of 1:2,400.


And here I use the 1968 Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service photographs. These are as close as I can get to what this area looked like when I was a kid.



  1. […] This is a second in series of blog posts on the landscape of my childhood home. Part 1 is here. […]


  2. It’s interesting that in your route to the Windybrush pool, you actually loitered through your neighbor’s property to access Windybush Road. So, what you did was basically defy the cul-de-sac character of the American suburb. After looking it up on Google maps, I was also fascinated by the proximity of I-95, which raises the question, what came first, the suburb or the highway?


  3. Kostis,

    The cul-de-sac functioned more as a roundabout for the neighborhood kids providing access to Windybush, the next road to the West (called Hilton), the Field (and Westwood Manor beyond), and the Woods. So the car-based image of the suburbs and adults gave way to the pedestrian practices of childhood where we found routes that traced various interstices.

    More on the history of the area in coming weeks!



  4. […] is a second in series of blog posts on the landscape of my childhood home:Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, and Part 3 is […]


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