This year the United States will celebrate its 246th birthday – but many of its oldest continuously occupied settlements far predate the founding of the country.
A few of the oldest towns around America have continued to grow over the years and are now big cities. Some, like Albany, New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico, while far from their state’s most populous metropolises, remain important as state capitals. Others, like Bath, North Carolina, and Kittery, Maine are quaint towns with a lot to offer visitors looking for history, architecture, and urban design from an earlier era.
Most of the oldest cities on this list are in the Northeast and were founded by English and Dutch settlers. However, the oldest is Saint Augustine, Florida – established in 1565 by the Spanish. Santa Fe, New Mexico, also founded by the Spanish, dates from 1607, tying it for second-oldest with Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English colony in what would become the United States. (Of course, because we are a comparatively young country, no city in America is included among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.)
In assembling our list of each state’s oldest town, 24/7 Tempo drew on numerous sources, including Britannica, ThoughtCo, Smithsonian Magazine, Oldest, Only in Your State, World Atlas, Travel Channel, and Insider, and verified founding dates and other historical data through official city and state websites. (As for the states themselves, this is how your state was founded.)
We included only towns, cities, and census-designated places, and listed only those which have existed continuously as residential and business communities since they were first established. We did not include Native American settlements, most of which, of course, are much older than those founded by Europeans.
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