Table of Contents
- St. Augustine, Florida: The Oldest City In America
- Santa Fe, New Mexico: The Second-Oldest City In The US
- Jamestown, Virginia: The Oldest Permanent English Settlement In The US
- Hopewell, Virginia
- Albany, New York
- Taos, New Mexico
- Jersey City, New Jersey
- New York City, New York
- Salem, Massachusetts
- Boston, Massachusetts
While the United States has multiple historic towns with fascinating histories, some cities were founded long before the rest. While the colonial period is the most popular part of American history, historical findings reveal that North America was inhabited as early as 20,000 years ago.
The region was home to millions of residents over the centuries. Some of the villages, towns, and cities created over the last ten centuries still exist in different forms. The earliest cities in the US have unique characteristics, and every vacationer should explore what they have to offer. Experience unforgettable charm in the oldest cities in America.
St. Augustine, Florida: The Oldest City In America
Founded in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, a Spanish explorer who was also the first governor of Florida, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US and has a lot to offer tourists. Don Pedro came up with a settlement and named it St. Augustine. Juan de Leon first discovered St. Augustine in 1513 in the process of looking for the Fountain of Youth. The city was the capital during the reign of the Spanish, which lasted for about 200 years.
In 1763, the British took over the city’s control until 1783 when the Spanish took over again. In 1821, the Adams-Onis Treaty ceded all the Spanish colonies of West and East Florida, including St. Augustine to the U.S. St. Augustine is now a bustling city with some of the most impressive Spanish architecture. Planning a visit to St. Augustine? There are plenty of things to see in America’s oldest city, including Crescent Beach, Anastasia State Park, and St. Augustine Beach.
Year founded: 1565
Notable attractions: Crescent Beach, Anastasia State Park, and St. Augustine Beach
Santa Fe, New Mexico: The Second-Oldest City In The US
Established in 1607, Santa Fe is known to be among the most beautiful cities in the US. It is America’s oldest state capital and the oldest city in New Mexico. The Spanish colonized this area in 1607, but before that, it was inhabited by indigenous people. What is now downtown Santa Fe was once Pueblo village, dating back to 900 A.D. The then locals tried to remove the Spanish from their land between 1680 and 1692, but their riots were put down.
The Spanish remained in control of the city until 1810 when Mexico gained Independence. It was put under Texas Republic until 1836 when it was withdrawn from Mexico. It only became a portion of the U.S. in 1848. It was made the capital of New Mexico in 1610 by Governor General, Don Pedro de Peralta. Today, Santa Fe is recognized for its top attractions, including America’s oldest public building, the Palace of the Governors, and the country’s oldest continual celebration, Santa Fe Fiesta.
Year Founded: 1607
Notable attractions: Santa Fe Plaza, Canyon Road, and Palace of the Governors
Best celebration: Santa Fe Fiesta
Jamestown, Virginia: The Oldest Permanent English Settlement In The US
Also founded in 1607, Jamestown is Virginia’s first settlement and boasts an interesting history. It is famous for being North America’s first permanent English colony. After its establishment, Jamestown was called James Fort, a name derived from the English King. During the first years of its establishment, the settlement went down since many of the inhabitants succumbed to illnesses and hunger.
The town was later neglected in 1610. It was until John Rolfe started planting tobacco that the area started to flourish again. The town received a lot of recognition and became the capital of the British royal colony in 1698. Much of Jamestown’s original settlement was ruined, and people believe that it was eroded over time. A visit to Jamestown is always an incredible adventure, thanks for having many beautiful outdoor experiences.
Year Founded: 1607
Notable attractions: Tercentennial Monument, Angela Site, Now Towne
City Point is the oldest part of Hopewell, and it dates back to 1613, thanks to Sir Thomas Dale who was behind its discovery. It is the most significant part of Hopewell’s history, as it played an important role during the Revolutionary War. Hopewell experienced much of its growth in 1914, thanks to the DuPont Company of Wilmington, Delaware which started a dynamite factory and later to making guncotton during World War I.
The company left the city after the war, but that didn’t affect its development. More big manufacturing firms, such as Hercules and Honeywell built their companies in the city. Not only is Hopewell among the oldest cities in the United States, but it’s now one of the best places in Virginia to visit, with several attractions to explore.
Year founded: 1613
Notable attractions: City Point Open-Air Museum, Old City Point Waterfront Park, Hopewell Riverwalk
Albany, New York
Founded in 1614, Albany in New York is one of the oldest cities in the US. The Dutch fur traders were the first people to settle there. Fort Nassau, one of the best things to do in Albany, was constructed in 1614. It was chartered as a municipality in 1686 by provincial Governor Thomas Dongan and became the New York State capital in 1797. It later became an incredible hub for international trade where people exchanged different goods.
Today, the city boasts some of the most popular natural attractions in New York, along with many historic sites and an incredible food scene – and it is even considered one of the most beautiful places to live in New York State.
Year founded: 1614
Notable attractions: the New York State Museum, the Empire State Plaza, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Taos, New Mexico
Taos was founded in 1615, making it one of the United States’ oldest cities. It was established as a Spanish village, but before that, the native Tiwa had settled here for centuries. Captain Hernando Alvarado set his feet in Taos in 1540, making him the first European to visit this place. He was enticed by the towering pueblos.
The city’s name was derived from the original inhabitants, Tiwa, the indigenous Pueblo people. Taos played a part in the 1680 Pueblo Rebellion. One of the most beautiful towns to visit in New Mexico, Taos later became an important trading center.
Today, it is home to some of the world’s most iconic attractions. Visiting Taos Ski Valley, Taos Pueblo, and San Francisco de Asis, one of the most beautiful and photographed churches, are among the best things to do in Taos, New Mexico.
Year Founded: 1615
Notable attractions: Taos Ski Valley, Taos Pueblo, San Francisco de Asis
Jersey City, New Jersey
Dating back to 1618, Jersey City was founded before its neighbor, New York City, was established. The area’s original inhabitants were the Delaware Indians, and in 1618, the Dutch trappers settled there. The city was called Paulus Hook at the time. It was purchased from Delaware in 1630 by Michael Pauw, became a permanent settlement by 1660, and was renamed Jersey City in 1820.
Today, the United States’ second most populous city is home to gorgeous sights, including parks, sparkling streets, and a striking waterfront walkway.
Year Founded: 1618
Notable attractions: Liberty State Park, Downtown Jersey City, New Jersey Waterfront, and Empty Sky Memorial
New York City, New York
New York City is one of the most famous cities in the world as well as one of the oldest cities in the USA. The city was founded in 1625 as a Dutch colony and went by the name New Amsterdam. It was until 1664 when the British took control over it that its name was changed to New York.
During the colonial period, New York was not the gorgeous city people see today. The high-rise buildings and the towering skyscrapers were not there. It was actually a dirty town whose slums were prone to illnesses. Today, though, NYC is home to plenty of world-famous destinations, including Central Park, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Year Founded: 1625
Notable attractions: Central Park, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of the most iconic views in NYC is its cityscape. However, not all vistas and viewpoints within The Big Apple are made equal. Travelers can enjoy the most stunning panoramas when they check out the best places to see the New York City skyline during their visit.
Dating back to 1626, Salem is one of the longest-established cities in America. It was discovered by Roger Conant who settled there together with some immigrants from Cape Ann. The city was named Naumkeag, but the inhabitants preferred to refer to it as Salem. The city is known for the infamous witch trials that began in 1692 and led to innocent people being hanged.
Today, vacationers can learn about this tragedy at Salem Witch Museum, including the deeper causes that contributed to the crisis. Visiting Salem is one of the awesome things to do in Massachusetts.
Year founded: 1626
Notable Attractions: Salem Witch Museum
Boston dates back to 1630 when Puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony arrived in the city. It was called Lincolnshire at the time, and its incredible position near the ocean made it a source of income for many people who worked there as merchants, fishermen, shipbuilders, and seamen, among others. Many traders would also stop in Boston on their way to the Caribbean.
Boston is famous for being the birthplace of the American Revolution because the Sons of Liberty incited colonists to fight for their freedom from this spot.Today, Boston is one of the most beautiful destinations in the US and has a lot to offer, including Fenway Park, Boston Public Garden, Boston’s Theater District, and Freedom Trail.
Year Founded: 1630
Notable attractions: Fenway Park, Boston Public Garden, Boston’s Theater District, and Freedom Trail