14 Oldest Cities in the US

By PropertyClub Team
May 7th 2024
The United States boasts a rich and storied history, stretching back long before its founding on July 4, 1776. But how much do you know about the oldest cities that witnessed these early chapters? Read on to explore the fourteen Oldest Cities in the US.

If you are interested in learning more about America's cities, make sure to check out our article on the richest cities in the USA.

hash-markKey Findings

  • The oldest inhabited city in the US is Oraibi, Arizona, which has been inhabited by the Hopi people since before 1100 AD.
  • The second oldest city in America is Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, which was founded sometime before 1300 AD.
  • Etzanoa, Kansas is the third oldest city in the US. It was built by the Wichita people around 1450 and was one of the largest pre-Columbian cities in North America.
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico is the fourth oldest city in the US. It was founded in 1521 and is also the oldest post-European contact city in the United States.

hash-mark14 Oldest Cities in the US

  1. Oraibi, Arizona
  2. Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico
  3. Etzanoa, Kansas
  4. San Juan, Puerto Rico
  5. St. Augustine, Florida 
  6. San German, Puerto Rico
  7. Coamo, Puerto Rico
  8. Jamestown, Virginia
  9. Santa Fe, New Mexico
  10. Hopewell, Virginia
  11. Albany, New York
  12. Taos, New Mexico
  13. Plymouth, Massachusetts
  14. Boston, Massachusetts

hash-mark1. Oraibi, Arizona

Oraibi, also called Old Oraibi, sits in Navajo County, Arizona, and was established before 1100 AD, maybe being the oldest lived-in place in the US. The exact population remains unknown because there's no official count or guess. The people there cherish their privacy, keeping their lives away from the lens, refusing to let cameras snap photos in their town.

hash-mark2. Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico

Nestled in McKinley County, New Mexico, Zuni Pueblo is a vibrant community founded in 1450. Home to over 6,700 people, primarily Zuni people, the Pueblo itself is a designated census area. A sacred mountain named Dowa Yalanne stands guard nearby. Zuni Pueblo is known as a hub for artists, particularly known for their skill in carving stone fetishes. 

Visitors are welcome at many of Zuni Pueblo's cultural events, offering a chance to experience this unique and enduring community.

hash-mark3. Etzanoa, Kansas

Etzanoa was a bustling city built by the Wichita people around 1450. Located near the Arkansas River in what is now Arkansas City, Kansas, Etzanoa thrived for centuries. Archaeologists believe it may have housed as many as 20,000 people, making it possibly the second-largest, or even the largest, settlement in North America in the early 1600s.

Today, visitors can learn more about this fascinating ancient city by arranging private tours through the Cherokee Strip Land Run Museum in Arkansas City.  

hash-mark4. San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, the capital and heart of Puerto Rico, thrives with a rich history dating back to 1521 when Spanish colonists first founded the city. Before them, the Taíno people inhabited this vibrant city. Today, San Juan boasts a population of over 342,000 and serves as Puerto Rico's key seaport. Explore historic landmarks like Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristóbal, or immerse yourself in the city's modern culture and energy.

hash-mark5. St. Augustine, Florida 

St. Augustine, a charming city with a population of around 15,180,  is the fifth oldest city in the United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it's located just south of Jacksonville, Florida on the Atlantic coast. St. Augustine's rich history and beautiful Spanish colonial architecture have made it a popular tourist destination since the late 1800s.

Visitors can wander the brick-lined streets lined with charming shops and cafes, or explore historic sites like the Castillo de San Marcos fort. The city also boasts several institutions of higher learning, including Flagler College and St. Johns River State College, making it a vibrant place to visit or even live.

hash-mark6. San German, Puerto Rico

Steeped in history, San Germán is the second oldest town in Puerto Rico, established in 1573. Located in the southwestern region of the island, this charming municipality boasts a population of around 31,680 people. Bustling with life, San Germán is known for its vibrant annual festival held in late July or early August, celebrating the town's patron saint.

Beyond the lively celebrations, the surrounding area is a treasure trove of fresh produce, with banana and pineapple plantations painting a lush picture of the Puerto Rican landscape. As the heart of the town, Plaza del Oeste is a delightful spot for shopping and soaking up the local atmosphere.

hash-mark7. Coamo, Puerto Rico

Coamo is a charming town nestled in the south-central region of Puerto Rico. Founded in 1579, it's the island's third-oldest town, originally named San Blas Illescas de Coamo by Spanish settlers. Coamo officially became a town in 1616 and was later honored with the title "Villa" by Spanish Royal Decree in 1778.

Today, Coamo boasts a population of over 34,557 residents. This historic town is famous for its natural treasure, Los Baños de Coamo, featuring relaxing hot springs. If you're looking for a challenge, Coamo also plays host to the annual San Blas Half Marathon, a popular event for runners.

hash-mark8. Jamestown, Virginia 

Jamestown is the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, established on May 14, 1607. While the town itself faced challenges, including a fire during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, it was rebuilt soon after. Today, Jamestown Island is a historic site with a population of around 14,665. 

Visitors can explore the past through museums like the Jamestown Settlement, which brings history to life,  and even learn about the American Revolution at the nearby Yorktown museum. 

hash-mark9. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, founded in 1610, is the capital of New Mexico and cradles the title of the highest state capital in the US, perched at over 7,000 feet. Steeped in history and culture, its name translates to "Holy Faith" in Spanish, reflecting its deep colonial roots. Today, Santa Fe is a vibrant art hub, brimming with galleries and art installations that draw visitors from all over. Tourism is a cornerstone of the city's economy, with people flocking to experience Santa Fe's unique blend of artistic energy, rich history, and cultural charm.

hash-mark10. Hopewell, Virginia 

Founded in 1613, Hopewell, Virginia is a city of around 23,000 residents. The city offers cultural attractions like the Beacon Theatre, Ashford Civic Plaza, and the Hopewell Community Center. However, Hopewell also faces challenges as Hopewell grapples with poverty. Roughly 16% of families and nearly 18% of the overall population live below the poverty line.

hash-mark11. Albany, New York

Albany, the next city on our list, is both the capital and the oldest city in New York state. Founded by Dutch colonists in 1614, the city today offers a vibrant mix of history and modern energy, with a population of over 100,000.  Albany boasts beautiful architecture, a thriving business district, and a rich cultural scene. Renowned colleges and universities add to the intellectual buzz.  If you're looking for green space, Albany won't disappoint, offering over 60 parks and recreation areas for residents and visitors to enjoy.

hash-mark12. Taos, New Mexico

Nestled in the north-central mountains of New Mexico, Taos is a charming town brimming with history and outdoor activities. Founded in 1615, it has a population of around 6,442 residents. Winter brings skiers to carve down the slopes of the nearby Carson National Forest. But Taos offers year-round adventures. Explore historic sites like churches and museums, or visit the lively Taos Plaza. Hike or camp amidst the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument - Taos truly has something for everyone.

hash-mark13. Plymouth, Massachusetts 

Plymouth is a charming coastal town south of Boston (around 40 miles away). Founded in 1620 by the Mayflower Pilgrims, this quaint town with a population of over 60,000 is known as "America's Hometown" for its role as the landing site of these history-making settlers.

Today, tourism thrives thanks to its historical significance, but Plymouth's economy also boasts a strong focus on healthcare, technical and scientific research, real estate, and telecommunications.

hash-mark14. Boston, Massachusetts 

Boston is the capital and most populous city of Massachusetts, brimming with a population of over 675,647. Founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers on the Shawmut Peninsula, the city has transformed into a modern hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Boston is home to prestigious universities like Boston University and Northeastern University, fostering a climate of fresh ideas. 

This spirit of ingenuity is further fueled by nearly 5,000 startup companies, making Boston a global leader in cutting-edge advancements.  The city is also a world-renowned center for biotechnology, making it a hub for groundbreaking discoveries in the medical field.