General

The American City With The Most Historic Places

America, founded 245 years ago, is not a very old country by most standards. There are nations, particularly throughout Europe and Asia, which were founded much earlier. America gets “older” when history is measured back to the founding of Jamestown, VA in 1607. And, St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S., was first settled in 1565.

American history should not just be measured through the eyes of immigrants. The history of Native Americans stretches back thousands of years.

Historical places in states and cities can be crowded with places that commemorate a time when something important happened in American life. Many of these center around wars, particularly the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Others are places famous Americans lived, or visited. Many of these involve politicians and soldiers.

To determine the city with the highest concentration of historic places, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, current as of June 2021. The Register is an official list of buildings, neighborhoods, and various structures around the country that have been deemed worthy of preservation.

Cities and towns we considered were ranked according to the number of their total housing units that are registered as historic. Only cities with at least 1,500 housing units built in 1949 or earlier were considered. (Data on number of housing units and median home value for pre-1949 homes are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.)

For a site to be considered as a historic place, it must be weighed by the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. The process involves examining the site’s age, significance, and historic integrity (including location, design, materials, workmanship, etc.). In most cases, to qualify a property must be at least 50 years old. It also has to be significant, meaning that it’s associated with an important event, person or development, or is an example of remarkable engineering achievements or notable architecture.

Given the path of our nation’s history, it is not surprising that many of the cities we looked at with the highest concentration of historic places are located in the eastern United States. Our finalist list includes cities in more than half the states, however, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and everywhere in between. Some of the cities will be familiar, such as Plymouth, Mass.; Gettysburg, Pa.; and St. Augustine, Fla. Others may be less well-known, like Tiffin, Ohio, or Yankton, South Dakota.

The American city with the most historic places was Saranac Lake, New York. Here are the details:

> Historic places: 1 for every 45 housing units (71 total)
> First listed historic place: Will Rogers Memorial Hospital (registered 1983)
> Latest listed historic place: Hotel Saranac (registered 2019)
> Median value of homes built 1949 or earlier: $155,387
> Total housing units: 3,185

Click here to read American Cities With the Highest Concentration of Historic Places