Bear is a census-designated place (CDP) in New Castle County, Delaware, United States. The population was 17,593 at the 2000 census. Originally a small crossroads in a rural area south of Wilmington, the area supported small farms growing mainly corn and cattle. In the late 1980s and 1990s Bear became a popular location for the construction of sprawling housing developments and shopping center along US Route 40. Bear is not an incorporated municipality or strictly delineated area in the county, but instead a general reference to the collection of communities in the US ZIP codes 19701-19702. According to common legend, the name "Bear" originated from a tavern located along the roadway from Wilmington to Dover, Delaware (at the intersection now formed by US 40 and State Route 7), whose sign was decorated with the image of a large bear.