Special Report

102 American Towns Founded Before the American Revolution


It’s nearly impossible to track down every town founded before the Revolutionary War, primarily because of a lack of documentation. We are not attempting to provide a comprehensive tally of every town founded before the American War of Independence. From a repository of several hundred towns, we compiled a list of 102 pre-Revolutionary War towns we believe represent the geographic diversity of the American experience.

To be considered, pre-Revolutionary War towns needed to have been chartered, founded, established, or incorporated before 1776 and to have remained in continuous existence. Population figures were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey and are five-year averages. For the 12 towns on this list not tracked by the ACS, we used population figures as of the latest available Census data. Lexington, Kentucky, is more commonly referenced as Lexington-Fayette urban county, Kentucky. Swedesboro, New Jersey, is also referred to as Swedesboro, borough.