History of New Hope
Nearly ten thousand years ago the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans carved their way from the Delaware River in what is now Philadelphia through richly wooded forests seeking land for planting, forests for hunting and water for fishing. Many of them settled on about 1,000 acres in what is now New Hope, Pennsylvania.
In the early part of the eighteenth century William Penn authorized a sale of land to Robert Heath for the purpose of building a mill and establishing a community. Hence, New Hope was born. During the American Revolutionary War General George Washington marched through New Hope on four documented occasions and the town played a vital role in the preparations for the Battles of Trenton and Monmouth.
New Hope’s strategic location on the Delaware River has made it an important transportation hub over the past three centuries. Stage coaches, canal boats, trains, trolleys and automobiles all made their way to New Hope-the half-way point from Philadelphia to New York City and the midpoint of the Delaware Canal between Easton and Bristol.
The sheer natural beauty of the area that was first seen and appreciated by the Lenni-Lenape people so many thousands of years ago attracted the great Pennsylvania Impressionist school of artists like Daniel Garber and Edwin Redfield in the early part of the twentieth century. Broadway summer stock theater followed shortly after them featuring such great actors as Helen Hayes, George C. Scott and Robert Redford at the Bucks County Playhouse which still thrills audiences seven decades later.
The drive for liberty and independence that brought George Washington’s army in the eighteenth century and the Underground Railroad in the nineteenth century continued in 2002 when New Hope became the first borough in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to pass a comprehensive ordinance banning discrimination in employment, public housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Today, many thousands of visitors each week make New Hope the number one tourist attraction in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
New Hope is home to:
- Dozens of art galleries
- Fine antique shops
- More than one hundred historic buildings
- Nationally acclaimed craft shops and restaurants
The Delaware Canal runs through the center of town, crisscrossed by a half dozen streams and creeks that flow into the historic Delaware River providing the natural beauty that continues to thrill all who come to New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Information on guided walking tours of downtown New Hope and tours of the historic Parry Mansion are available at the website of the New Hope Historical Society.