Bristol's Riverfront Connection
Bristol's Riverfront Connection was the Grundy Library's 2014 annual exhibit featuring the Delaware River and its relationship with Bristol Borough.
The Delaware River was the major factor in the initial development of Bristol and continues to be one of the elements which makes the town unique. The access to transportation on the river and the abundant natural resources made this area a natural choice for its early inhabitants.
The intertwining of Bristol’s history and the Delaware River cannot be overstated, from its earliest inhabitants the Lenni Lenape to the European settlers, this area along the Delaware River was a natural draw for early inhabitants for its abundance of food and natural resources.
For most of its history, Bristol Borough was the county’s only seaport. It was not until 1932 after the channel was deepened that the first ship reached the post of Trenton.
Not only did ships sail in and out of Bristol, from the earliest days it was a shipbuilding center as early as the mid-eighteenth century. Bristol was the only location in Pennsylvania above Philadelphia where a shipbuilding industry was established. The first reported ship built in the county was the 25-ton sloop expedition built in Bristol in April 1727.
Over the years the river has played an integral role in Bristol’s development motivating the creation of shipbuilding, the site of terminus of the Delaware Canal, and a multitude of industries. Bristol became a hub for travelers enroute to Philadelphia and Burlington, NJ via steamboat and ferry.