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Top 10 oldest cities in the US
Top 10 oldest cities in the US

What are the Oldest Cities in the United States?

Although there are historic towns and rich histories in every US state, some American cities have a much longer history than others.

While the United States itself was "born" on July 4, 1776, many of the country's oldest cities date back much further in time. Although most of the currently occupied lands were originally settled by Indigenous peoples, all three were founded by European explorers (Spanish, French, and English). Let's check out the top ten list of the oldest American cities, compiled and introduced by

10. Weymouth, Massachusetts (1622)

Photo: Metro
Weymouth, Massachusetts - Photo: Metro

Weymouth is located on the South Shore about 12 miles south of Boston. It was established in 1622, making it the state's second-oldest town. London merchant Thomas Weston had contributed to the Pilgrims' finances and paid for the Mayflower in the hopes of profiting from trade with the colonies. Due to the Pilgrims' focus on religious liberty rather than economic opportunity, Weston planned to found a new colony specifically for the purpose of acting as a trading post from which lumber, furs, and salted fish could be sent back to England. Wessaguscus or Wessagusset is the name he gave the area that is now North Weymouth when he sent sixty men there.

Founded in 1635 and named after Weymouth, England, the town's economy was based on farming and fishing (at least, it was before water pollution killed off the herring runs). After the discovery of bog iron in 1771, an early iron industry developed in the area. In 1853, the production of shoes got its start. Thousands of residents now make the daily commute to Boston and beyond from Weymouth's residential core. Employment opportunities in the area are particularly strong in the medical care and light manufacturing (electronic components) sectors.

9. Plymouth, Massachusetts (1620)

Photo: Expedia
Plymouth, Massachusetts - Photo: Expedia

Plymouth, MA is the name of both a county and a town. Due to its significant role in American history, folklore, and culture, the town is often referred to as "America's Hometown." Plymouth was the original settlement in New England, established in 1620 by the Mayflower Pilgrims. It's the oldest city in New England and among the oldest in the whole country.

Plymouth, located on the southwestern shores of Massachusetts Bay, had been inhabited by locals for centuries before Europeans arrived. The Pilgrims likely would not have made it through the harsh winter of 1620–1621 without the help of Squanto and other Wampanoag tribe members.

8. Jersey City, New Jersey (1617)

Photo: New York Times
Jersey City, New Jersey - Photo: New York Times

Jersey City is a city in Hudson County and the county seat (1840) in northeastern New Jersey, United States. Located across from Manhattan Island on a peninsula between the Hudson and Hackensack rivers, Hoboken is serviced by the Port Authority Trans-Hudson and the Holland Tunnel. The Delaware Indians were the first known inhabitants of the area that Henry Hudson would later explore.

The diverse cultures that make Jersey City their home continue to leave their mark on the city today.

The Colgate Clock, a waterfront landmark, and the Powerhouse Arts District, home to some of the city's many talented artists, give the downtown area an air of urban sophistication.

Food is a great place to get a taste of the many cultures represented in Jersey City. Bring your appetite for Korean, Indian, Filipino, and Cuban cuisines! Destination Jersey City is your one-stop-shop for all the city's dining, lodging, and sightseeing options.

7. Albany, New York (1614)

Chuck Miller / Getty Images
Albany, New York - Chuck Miller / Getty Images

New York's capital, Albany, is also the county seat and largest city in Albany County. Approximately 135 miles (220 km) north of New York City, Albany can be found on the west bank of the Hudson River, about 10 miles (16 km) south of the river's confluence with the Mohawk River.

Albany, New York is the state capital and is located in the thriving Tech Valley area, expanding from a small Dutch settlement over the past four centuries.

Learn about the thriving downtown craft beverage industry, must-see attractions, and exciting culture of Albany. Enjoy the area's fascinating architecture, historic homes, and world-class museums. Get out of the city and into the Helderberg Hilltowns for some breathtaking scenery and exciting outdoor activities. Albany County is not your typical vacation spot.

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6. Newport News, Virginia (1613)

Photo: Wikipedia
Newport News, Virginia

The city of Newport News, Virginia, is a separate municipality in the United States. In 2010, the population was recorded as 180,719. It is projected to have a population of 179,225 in 2019, making it the state's fifth most populous metropolis.

The Hampton Roads metropolis extends to include Newport News. Located at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula, Norfolk sits on the northern shore of the James River, which stretches for miles from Skiffe's Creek to the mouth of the river at Newport News Point in Hampton Roads' harbor. Newport News was originally a part of Warwick County. King Charles I of England had the House of Burgesses in his colony of Virginia establish eight shires in 1634, and Warwick County was one of them.

Newport News Shipbuilding continues to be a major contributor to the state's economy as it manufactures aircraft carriers and submarines for the armed forces.

5. Kecoughtan, Virginia (1610)

Photo: Getty Images
Kecoughtan, Virginia - Photo: Getty Images

In the seventeenth century, Hampton, Virginia, was known as Kecoughtan. It was also the name of a nearby town that sprang up in the early 20th century and was eventually annexed by Newport News.

Before colonists led by Captain John Smith arrived in the Hampton Roads area in 1607, the Algonquian Native Americans who called the area home called it Kikotan (also spelled Kiccowtan, Kikowtan, etc.).

Both the Elizabeth River Shire (1634) and the Elizabeth City County (1637) included Kecoughtan. In the 1690s, Kecoughtan was annexed by the newly formed Town of Hampton, which would eventually grow into the City of Hampton. In 1952, Hampton agreed to merge with Elizabeth City County, and the county's only incorporated town, Phoebus, became part of the new City of Hampton.

Since Jamestown (which usually holds this distinction) was abandoned for two days in June 1610, Hampton can claim, via Fort Algernon and the Kecoughtan settlement, to be the oldest continuously occupied English-speaking settlement in the United States. The church and other buildings at Jamestown were abandoned after the colonial capital of Virginia and the parish seat relocated to Williamsburg in 1698.

4. Hampton, Virginia (1610)

Photo: Linkedin
Hampton, Virginia - Photo: Linkedin

Located in Virginia, Hampton functions as a separate municipality. In 2010, there were 137,438 people living there, but by 2019, that number was expected to drop to around 134,510. The 37th most populous MSA in the United States, the Hampton Roads M.S.A. (also known as the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA) includes Hampton as part of its total population of 1,729,114. Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk are all part of "America's First Region," which also includes the smaller cities, counties, and towns of Hampton Roads.

Hampton is in the middle of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area and is partially bordered by the Hampton Roads harbor and Chesapeake Bay. Many historical, cultural, and recreational opportunities can be found in and around Hampton, as it is the location of the first continuous English-speaking settlement in the Americas. The Virginia Air & Space Center and Riverside IMAX Theater, the Hampton History Museum, harbor tours and cruises, the Hampton University Museum, Fort Monroe, the award-winning Hampton Coliseum, and the American Theatre are just a few of the popular tourist destinations in Hampton. The imprisonment of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the Fort's role in the Civil War are documented at the Casemate Museum in Fort Monroe National Monument.

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3. Santa Fe, New Mexico (1607)

Photo: Wikipedia
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is not only the capital of New Mexico but also the oldest city in the United States. Native Americans lived there for thousands of years before the Spanish explorers arrived in 1607. Around 900 A.D., the area that is now downtown Santa Fe was the site of a Pueblo village. From 1680 to 1692, local insurgent groups successfully drove the Spanish out of the area.

Santa Fe is home to a wide variety of architectural styles, from historic palaces (the Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States) to cutting-edge restaurants, clubs, and hotels. Downtown Santa Fe's plaza is home to both a contemporary shopping district and a bustling Native American art market held beneath the Governor's Palace's portal.

Bandelier National Monument, located outside of the city, is notable because it safeguards over 13,000 acres of canyon and mesa that contain petroglyphs, dwellings, and masonry from indigenous cultures that date back more than 11,000 years. Another option is to take the 170 kilometer High Road to Taos, which winds through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and past quaint Spanish colonial and Pueblo Indian villages where you can learn about the area's history and peruse handcrafted goods made by local artisans.

2. Jamestown, Virginia (1607)

Photo: The Guardian
Jamestown, Virginia - Photo: The Guardian

Jamestown was the location of the first permanent English colony in North America and is the second-oldest city in the United States. The fort was established on April 26, 1607, and was initially named James Fort in honor of King James I of England. The colony failed early on and was abandoned for a time in 1610. Jamestown was already a small town by the time Virginia was recognized as a British royal colony in 1624, and it remained the colonial capital until 1698.

Most of the original town, now known as Old Jamestowne, had been destroyed by the time the Civil War ended in 1865. Efforts to preserve the area started in the early 1900s, when the land was still owned privately. It became a national park in 1936 and was renamed Colonial National Park at that time. The 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding was celebrated in 2007. The Queen of Great Britain was in attendance.

1. St. Augustine, Florida (1565)

Photo: Beacon Lake
St. Augustine, Florida - Photo: Beacon Lake

The airports in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Daytona are all within easy driving distance of St. Augustine, also known as "The Ancient City." Strolling North Florida's charming historic district, complete with its cobblestone streets, cafes, bars, unique shops, and bed and breakfast inns, is possible thanks to the region's year-round mild climate. Witness the splendor of a city that comes to life early as residents and visitors alike set out on foot to visit famous sites like the Castillo de San Marcos, Lightner Museum, Flagler College, and Fort Matanzas.

On the feast day of St. Augustine, September 8, 1565, the city of St. Augustine was founded 11 days after the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés landed on the island. It served as the state capital of Spanish Florida for over two centuries. The British ruled the area between the years of 1763 and 1783. At the time, St. Augustine served as the seat of government for British East Florida. Once again under Spanish rule from 1783 until a treaty ceded it to the United States in 1822.

Until 1824, when it was moved to Tallahassee, St. Augustine served as the territorial capital. Developer Henry Flagler invested in local rail lines and hotel construction in the 1880s, kicking off what would become Florida's winter tourist trade.


You've just discovered the oldest cities across America. These are also destinations associated with the historical story of the United States, so not only Americans but also foreign tourists want to visit.

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