There are innumerable reasons why you would want to visit some of the oldest cities in the United States. For one, it will give you the closest possible insight into the future of this great country, as well as its oldest settlements. These cities also feature many remnants of the past, which can be a great way to learn about the culture of the U.S. and what it once looked like. Finally, most of these cities are still bustling urban centers that have plenty to offer even to those who are not exactly history buffs.
Considering the topic of today’s story, it would be only proper to start with the oldest city in the United States – St. Augustine, Florida. It is the oldest settlement established by Europeans in the U.S., founded in 1565 by a Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles. The city saw plenty of history over the centuries, but today, it is a quiet little city with plenty of things to see and learn. You will also find the oldest masonry fort in the U.S. in St. Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos.
Williamsburg, Virginia is in itself quite an old city, dating back to 1632, but the reason it ended up on our list is that the historic settlement of Jamestown is nearby. Jamestown, of course, was one of the oldest settlements in the U.S. and the first permanent English colony, established in 1607. When you visit Williamsburg, you should definitely make a trip to Jamestown and see one of the oldest locales in the entire country. It is going to put some things in perspective, for sure.
Santa Fe is a city of many firsts. For instance, it is the oldest state capital in the country and also the oldest city in New Mexico. It was founded in 1610 by Spanish colonists and it was the place of a number of permanent Native American settlements even before that. Santa Fe is literally teaming with historic buildings, especially in the Downtown area and the area around the city is just stunningly beautiful as well.
Another American city was founded in 1610 in Virginia. It was named Hampton and it still stands. It is a city with an incredible history from its earliest days to post Civil War days when the Hampton University was formed, providing education to freed slaves. More recently, Hampton was home to Langley Air Force Base, as well as the NASA Langley Research Center and Virginia Air and Space Center. In short, there is plenty to see in Hampton and not just if you are crazy for history.
Albany, New York is the second oldest state capital in the United States and also one of the oldest cities in the country in general. The city was first officially settled in 1614 as a Dutch colony and over the centuries, it has grown into an important city, not just in the state of New York, but country in general. The city still features a number of historic buildings and sites, such as the Ten Broeck Mansion, Albany City Hall and you can find the oldest Shaker settlement in the country there too.
When you think of Jersey City, New Jersey you do not immediately think history, but you should. Settlements that now make up the city all have their own histories which have become part of Jersey City history. If you chose to visit the city for its history, make sure to check out the Newkirk House from 1690, as well as the Van Vorst and Van Wagenen houses from the mid-18th century, which still stand.
Of course, we must also mention New York City which is actually one of the oldest cities in the country, dating back to 1624 when it was called New Amsterdam. We feel like there is very little need to tell you why you should visit New York if you haven’t visited it already. A hint: it is not all about history.
A city that may not be as old as the ones we have mentioned but where you can see plenty of the 18th and 19th century history is Savannah, Georgia, a town whose historic district still features the original plan from the eighteenth century as well as many buildings from the bygone era.