The city that the movie (and most likely the book, although I have no proof) Fight Club takes place in. Although it's never mentioned specifically in the movie, I've collected the following points from various places around the internet.

  • As is mentioned above, Wilmington is home to 60% of all Fortune 500 companies and most credit card companies.
  • In the car-smashing scene, they mention New Castle, Delaware City, and Penns Grove, NJ; all of which are near Wilmington.
  • The ZIP code on Tyler's Paper Street Soap Company card is 19808, which is Wilmington, Delaware.
  • The apartment that the Narrator lives in is called "A Place to Be Someone." This is also the city motto for Wilmington, Delaware.
  • There really is a Paper St. in Wilmington, Delaware. (There is, however, no street number 537- the numbers don't go that high).
  • Here's the clincher- the original screenplay refers often to Wilmington as the location of the city. Some more excerpts from the original screenplay follow.
  • From the original screenplay: Jack: "Look, can I just come down in person? I live here -- in Wilmington. Yes, all my credit cards have main headquarters here. No? Why not? Why can't I speak to an account rep? No, wait, don't put me on --
  • From the original screenplay: Jack, to Tyler on the plane: "Uh... are you going to Wilmington?" Tyler: "I live there."

References: IMDb- Fight Club; The original screenplay- <http://www.crosswinds.net/~edwardnorton//filmography/fcscript.html>

The origins of Wilmington go back to Fort Christina, founded by the Swedes in 1638. The whole region was essentially a farming and trading center from the time of its founding through the end of the eighteenth century. By 1675, control of the region had passed from the Dutch to England (having passed from the Swedes to the Dutch in 1655 after a short and essentially bloodless "fight"), though many of the original Swedish and Finnish settlers still remained. Much of the land was broken into large parcels controlled by a relatively small number of Swedish, Finnish, and Dutch colonists. Around the turn of the century, Quakers who followed William Penn to North America began to settle in Penn's Woods, including the region around the old Fort Christina. Large parcels of land were in turn purchased by some of these English settlers.

Englishman Andrew Justison bought up some of this land, mostly from the sons of the original settlers. He eventually owned a large tract of land between the Christina River and the Brandywine River. Around 1730, Justison wanted to establish a new town, and he had it surveyed and split into smaller plots which he started to sell off in 1732. In 1734, Justison's son-in-law Thomas Willing began helping him lay out and plan this new town, which was christened "Willingtown." The town itself was meant to be a market, milling center, and gathering place for regional farmers, and a service port for shipping up the Delaware River.

In early 1735, a Quaker named William Shipley visited Willingtown, liked the place, and started buying land of his own in town. He moved his family there to a small brick house in the autumn of that year, and into a larger mansion the following year. Many Quakers followed Shipley to the region, and so the fledgling city started out as more of a Quaker town than a Swedish or Dutch one.

Things got interesting after Shipley moved to town. He was a fairly rich businessman, and wanted to turn the city into a commercial center. Willing had planned for a market center on what was then Second Street, but construction never started because none of the families already there would front the construction costs. Shipley built his own market on Fourth Street with his own money, so many of the local families fell in behind Shipley rather than Willing. However, other residents (including Willing) finally built a (much fancier) market of their own on the planned site, resulting in some unpleasantness. In November of 1739, when the town received its charter from Thomas Penn, the markets were ordered to operate on alternating days of the week (Saturdays at Shipley's, Wednesdays at Willing's) and alternating seasonal festivals (Spring Fair at Shipley's, Fall Fair at Willing's). It was around this time that the town proprietor changed the name from Willingtown to Wilmington, probably as much a misprint of Willing-town as a tribute to the English Earl of Wilmington, Spencer Compton. Shipley was elected the first chief burgess of the town immediately after the charter.

The town developed rapidly after that, quickly surpassing the older nearby town of New Castle, which went into an economic decline as the newer city's port was more convenient. Wilmington actually grew a little too quickly, because it became a haven for smugglers of rum and tobacco due to its many convenient secluded waterways. The smugglers would then head into town to party, resulting in the construction of a jail -- with stocks and whipping post -- in 1740. A library was founded in 1754 and a printing press installed in 1761. A formal town hall was finally erected in 1774. Shortly after that, the American Revolution broke out which Delaware participated in wholeheartedly, mainly because of the tax on ports and shipping. The first president of the First State during the war was John McKinly, a burgess of the City of Wilmington.

I'll only cover up to the American Revolution here, as it makes a sensible and convenient stopping point.

Source: A neat little book called Delaware: A Guide To The First State written by the Federal Writers' Project under the Works Progress Administration in 1938. This was the revised edition of Jeannette Eckman, published as part of the American Guide Series, Hastings House, New York, 1955.

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