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Wrightsville Beach

(4.7/5 based on 1,200+ reviews for 8 attractions)
Things to do: beaches, adventure, classes
Wrightsville Beach is a town in New Hanover County, North Carolina, United States. Wrightsville Beach is just east of Wilmington and is part of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,477 at the 2010 census. The town consists of a four-mile-long beach island, an interior island called Harbor Island, and pockets of commercial property on the mainland.HistoryThe island's first structure was the Carolina Yacht Club, built in 1853. A train track was built in 1888 from the mainland to Harbor Island to the exterior island along the beach, which brought vacationers from nearby Wilmington and spurred development. In 1902, the train was converted to electric streetcars—i.e., the beach trolley. The most significant structure on the island was the large dance floor and entertainment center, the Lumina Pavilion, which opened in 1905. In its heyday, it attracted numerous entertainers, including most of the famous Big Bands. Cars were finally allowed on the beach in 1935, hastening the demise of the beach trolley, which last ran in 1940. Lumina closed in 1973. The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, housed in a relocated cottage built in 1907 on Salisbury Street near the entrance to the island, features the town's history.Recent historySince the 1970s, development has increased at a rapid rate. A desalination plant was constructed in the middle of Harbor Island in 1960 by the Carrier Corporation. The method used to desalinize the water was freezing. The plant proved to be costly, inefficient and difficult to maintain. Residents also complained about the barely potable taste of the water. It was closed and is now used only as a water pumping station.
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