America's Historic Towns and Oldest Places
We have put in countless hours of research to uncover the oldest places and oldest sites across the country. They each have incredible amounts of fascinating history and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Nearly 95, 000 properties are listed in the National Register, representing 1.8 million contributing resources (e.g. buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects). All of these oldest attractions listed below are still continuously active and in use today. Some even date back before the United States became a country, Our team of explorers have traveled far and wide to personally visit every one of these oldest spots. We continually trek to historic towns of America across the country that include some of the oldest places, attractions and things. We give you a first hand, personal look at these truly historic locations by sharing our photos and more. So without further ado here is our latest list of the oldest places in America.
Elfreth's Alley (est. 1702) located in Philadelphia, PA is considered the oldest inhabited residential street in America according to Elfreth's Alley Association, a local preservation group. It is a credit to the Elfreth’s Alley Association that tourists from all over the country and the world are able to visit the cobblestone street and its history. The alley dates back to 1702 when two blacksmiths surrendered portions of their land in order to create an alleyway that led to the river. On Elfreth’s Alley, grocers, shoemakers, cabinet makers, tailors and others worked out of the first floor of their houses. The street squeezes 32 Federal- and Georgian-style houses onto one cobblestone city block. There are 32 houses on the street, which were built between 1728 and 1836. The alley is a now National Historic Landmark. The official address is 124-126 Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106.
Pennypack Creek Bridge (est. 1697), also known as Frankford Avenue Bridge, Pennypack Bridge, Holmesburg Bridge, located in the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philadelphia, is the oldest roadway bridge in America. The three-span, 73-foot-long stone arch bridge carries Frankford Avenue over Pennypack Creek in Pennypack Park. In 1683, William Penn appealed to the English Court at Upland, requesting that a bridge be built across Pennypack Creek. His request was granted, as were other requests for bridges along the King’s Highway. It was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1970. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Originally 18 feet wide when first built with just enough room for two teams of horse to pass each other. It was widened in 1893 to accommodate trolley traffic and again in 1950 to fit vehicles. The address is 8341-8351 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19136.
Rocky Hill–Glastonbury Ferry (est. 1655) is a seasonal ferry crossing the Connecticut River between towns Glastonbury and Rocky Hill, Connecticut and is part of Route 160. Its the oldest continuously operated ferry service in America. The Hollister III, an open flatboat, is towed across the Connecticut River by the towboat Cumberland. The ferry plays a role in serving local vehicular and bicycle traffic. The original ferry was a small raft pushed across the river using long poles. Under State charter, the ferry service was operated by local families throughout most of its existence. The Glastonbury-Rocky Hill Ferry Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. The district consists of two distinct geographic areas on either side of the Connecticut River historically linked by a ferry since the mid-17th century. The official address is CT-160 & Meadow Road, Rocky Hill, CT 06067.
Lake Compounce (est. 1846) is an amusement park located in Bristol and Southington, Connecticut. Opened in 1846, it is the oldest continuously operating amusement / theme park in the United States. It is also Connecticut's largest water park. The park spans 332 acres, which includes a beach and a water park called Crocodile Cove included in the price of admission. The name Lake Compounce is derived from John Compound, a Mattatuck/Tunxis Native American Chieftain. Today, the park offers more than 50 rides, the largest water park in the state, live shows, and many other forms of entertainment. In 1895, a railway company added a station at Lake Compounce. It is one of a handful of remaining trolley parks, so named because streetcar operators placed the parks at the end of their lines to boost weekend business. The official address is 185 Enterprise Dr, Bristol, CT 06010.
King’s Highway (built 1650 to 1735) decades before the United States became a country, which makes the King’s Highway the oldest road in America. In 1735, it was basically a trail. By 1750 the entire road was in place. The road is 1,300 miles (2,100 km) long and connected Charleston, South Carolina to Boston, Massachusetts. The King’s Highway was the most important road in colonial America and served as the major transportation route for the colonies. A documentary film was created about the King’s Highway and many of the landmarks along the road. It played a critical role in the ultimate independence of the United States from England even though it was ordered to be built by Charles II of England. Today, highways and modern roads cover most of the original route. There are hundreds of historic places along the 1,300 mile highway.
Atlantic City Boardwalk (est. 1870) located in south New Jersey is the oldest in America and the longest in the world spanning 5.5 miles. The most famous walkway on the East Coast was not built to be anything more than a solution to keeping the sand out of the ritzy hotels and the Camden and Atlantic’s railroad passenger cars. A fed-up railroad conductor and hotel owner first petitioned to the city council in 1870, asking that a mile-long foot walk be established. Garnering plenty of attention from East Coast visitors, the boardwalk is 60 feet wide & the wood is laid in a herringbone pattern. The boardwalk is within short walking distance of shops to five-star restaurants casinos, attractions and great shows. It hosts over 27 million visitors a year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. The official address listed is 3109 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401.
Saratoga Race Course (est. 1863) is located in Saratoga Springs, NY. Its the oldest organized sporting venue America. On August 3, 1863, gambler, casino owner, ex-boxing champion, & future congressman John Morrissey organized Saratoga's first thoroughbred meet a month after the Battle of Gettysburg. The 350-acre racetrack features thoroughbred horse-racing during its 6 week season from July through early September. The historic venue also hosts a variety of different events throughout the season. Although Saratoga Race Course is considered the third oldest race track/course in the U.S., it is the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in America. The world's most accomplished thoroughbreds have raced on the hallowed ground of Saratoga Race Course. Names such as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Rachel Alexandra, Curlin, Gallant Fox, the mighty Man o' War, & American Pharoah raced there. The official address is 267 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
Franklin Square Fountain (est. 1838) is located in Philadelphia, PA. It was established a year following Philadelphia City Council's resolution calling for a fountain of “grand dimensions.” It is the oldest refurbished and functioning public water fountain in the United States, and is the longest-surviving fountain in William Penn’s original five squares. In 2006, Historic Philadelphia, Inc. restored the fountain for the first time in 30 years, renovating the vintage marble and surrounding wrought iron fence. To this day, the historic fountain is a highlight of the Franklin Square experience alongside the modern attractions, special events, and public green space. The fountain has been the centerpiece of the public park for 180 years. While the city and surrounding neighborhoods have changed and developed, the signature fountain hearkens back to the 19th century and remains a favorite gathering place in Philadelphia. The official address is 200 North 6th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106.
Myles Standish Burial Ground (est. 1638) is located in Duxbury, Massachusetts. It is the oldest maintained cemetery in America. The 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) burying ground is the final resting place of several well-known Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620, including Captain Myles Standish. The site was the location of Duxbury's first meeting house. It was in use from approximately 1638 until 1789 at which point the cemetery was abandoned. It was reclaimed in 1887 by the Duxbury Rural Society, generating a widespread interest in locating the resting place of Duxbury's most famous colonist, Myles Standish. After two exhumations in 1889 and 1891, it was generally agreed that Standish's remains had been located and a memorial was built over his gravesite. The Standish gravesite memorial is today the most prominent feature in the burying ground. It is now owned and maintained by the Town of Duxbury. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. The official address is Chestnut St, Duxbury, MA 02332.
Gloucester (est. 1632) is located in Massachusetts. It has been serving the world as a harvester of quality seafood since 1623 and has been a destination community ever since. Immortalized in the movie The Perfect Storm. Before Boston and Salem, there was Gloucester. Gloucester by the Dorchester Company, the first settlement in what would in time become the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The land wasn’t good for farming, and at the time, fishing wasn’t the industry it was to become, so the settlement floundered. At least in theory, the earliest settlers were fisherman however, so Gloucester can lay claim to being America’s oldest seaport. The official address of Gloucester's city hall is 9 Dale Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930.
Pelham Street Lamp/Light (est. 1805) is located in Newport, Rhode Island. Baltimore claims to have the United States’ first gas street lamp, but that claim is erroneous. Though the Maryland city did indeed have the first publicly funded street lamp, it was in Newport, Rhode Island, that the America's earliest gas street lamp first flickered to life. David Melville was a pewterer who lived in Newport. In the early 1800s, he decided to create a gas-powered street lamp to light the space outside his house. The bronze plaque and memorial street lamp are located on the little side street next to the 1 Pelham East nightclub. The light is actually on Pelham Street. The official address is 270 Thames St, Newport, RI 02840.
White Horse Tavern (est. 1673) is located in Newport, Rhode Island. Founded in 1673 and has been serving up ale and eats ever since. It is the oldest bar/oldest/tavern/restaurant in America. The White Horse Tavern is a National Historic Landmark being America’s oldest restaurant. It was recognized as a National Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. The typical colonial style has clapboard walls, gambrel roof and plain pediment doors bordering the sidewalk. Inside, its giant beams, small stairway against the chimney, tiny front hall and cavernous fireplaces are the very essence of 17th century American architecture. The official address is 26 Marlborough St
Newport, RI 02840.
Philadelphia Zoo (est. 1859) is located in the Centennial District of Philadelphia on the west bank of the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia’s historic Fairmount Park. It is the first true, and oldest, zoo in America. It was chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 21, 1859, but its opening was delayed by the Civil War until July 1, 1874. One of the best laid-out and most animal-packed zoos in the country, the Philadelphia Zoo is set among a charming 42-acre Victorian garden with tree-lined walks, formal shrubbery and animal sculptures. The zoo has garnered many “firsts” in addition to being the first zoo charted in the United States (1859), including the first orangutan and chimp births in a U.S. zoo (1928), the world’s first children’s zoo (1957) and the first U.S. exhibit of white lions (1993), among others. In addition to its animals, the zoo is known for its historic architecture, which includes the country home of William Penn’s grandson, its botanical collections of over 500 plant species, its groundbreaking research and its fine veterinary facilities. It is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. Each year, Philadelphia Zoo educates more than 1.2 million visitors. The official address is 3400 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Darby Free Library (est. 1743) is America's oldest public library, in continuous service since 1743. It was first founded as The Darby Library Co. on March 10, 1743 when 29 Quaker farmers and merchants gathered at the Darby Friends Meeting House and agreed to start a library in their chosen librarian's home. It was founded the same year as Thomas Jefferson's birth and 12 years before the Liberty Bell was even thought of. Today it still operates as the Darby Free Library in a building constructed in 1872 at the corner of 10th and Main streets in the borough of Darby. Darby Free Library has a wealth of resources to offer. It received a new face-lift in 2018 thanks to a donation from the Henderson Group. Some inaccurately refer to the Library Company of Philadelphia (founded in 1731) located in Philadelphia, PA as the oldest. However while founded as a membership library it is no longer actually a library. It currently operates as a nonprofit, independent research organization. The Darby Free Library is run by a private company dependent on grants and donations. The official address to the Darby Free Library is 1001 Main Street in Darby Borough, Delaware County, PA 19023.
Boston Post Road (est. 1673) was a system of mail-delivery routes between New York City and Boston, Massachusetts, that evolved into one of the first major highways in America. The three different routes were: Upper Post Road, Lower Post Road, and Middle Post Road. Portions of these postal roads were eventually incorporated into more substantial trails and pathways, leading to portions of several U.S. and interstate routes. The Boston Post Road became a portion of The King’s Highway, a 1,300-mile road laid out from 1650 to 1735 in the American colonies to link Charleston, South Carolina, to Boston, on the order of Charles II of England. In 1753, then-Deputy Postmaster Benjamin Franklin traveled the Boston Post Road to standardize postal rates based on distance. Stone markers were placed at mile points along the route. In 1783, the Boston Post Road carried America’s first long-distance stagecoach service from New York to Boston, corresponding with improvements in the road’s surface that resulted in a faster, safer, and more efficient transportation system. The success of the stagecoach service along this route convinced Congress to send mail by stagecoach instead of lone rider. Today, the three routes of the Boston Post Road are I-95, I-91, and I-94.
Hartford Courant (est. 1764) is the oldest continuously published newspaper and media outlet in America. Founded prior to American independence, on October 29, 1764, New Haven printer Thomas Green began publishing The Hartford Courant (then known as The Connecticut Courant) out of the Heart and Crown Tavern in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1913 the paper published its first-ever Sunday edition. Throughout the decades that followed, Connecticut residents repeatedly turned to The Hartford Courant for coverage of the military conflicts erupting across the globe, the rapid commercial and political transformations occurring at home, and the country’s foray into outer space. The paper not only kept readers around the country informed on important local, national, and international events for over two and half centuries, but access to its well-preserved archival resources provides important insight into life in the U.S. dating back to its very conception. Although its headquarters in Hartford, CT was closed on December 27, 2020 the newspaper continues in operation with reporters on the beat covering stories in the city of Hartford and state of Connecticut. The Hartford Courant is currently owned by Tribune Publishing of Chicago since 2000. Reporters and staff members now work remotely. The paper is now being printed in Springfield, CT.
Union Canal Tunnel (est. 1827) is the oldest tunnel in America. It was a towpath canal that existed in southeastern Pennsylvania during the 19th century. First proposed in 1690 to connect Philadelphia with the Susquehanna River, it ran approximately 82 mi from Middletown on the Susquehanna below Harrisburg to Reading on the Schuylkill River. Construction began in 1792 during the George Washington Administration, but financial difficulties delayed its completion until 1828. Called the "Golden Link," it provided a critical early transportation route for shipping anthracite coal and lumber eastward to Philadelphia. Closed in the 1880s, remnants of the canal remain, most notably the Union Canal Tunnel. It was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1994. Union Canal Tunnel is now owned by the Lebanon County Historical Society and maintained by The Friends of Union Canal Tunnel Park. Together with the original property, the Union Canal Tunnel Park is comprised of 110 acres of recreational open space. The official address is 25th Street and Union Canal Drive in North Lebanon Township. Le Boudoir tunnel built 1844 in Brooklyn is the oldest tunnel under any city street in North America. Staple Bend tunnel in Connecticut is the oldest railroad tunnel built in 1833. Union Canal Tunnel is older than both.
Perth Amboy City Hall (est. 1717) located in Perth Amboy, NJ is both the oldest public building and city hall in America. Public building is defined as any structure that is owned or leased, and principally used, by a governmental agency for public business or meetings. Construction of the building began in 1714 and was completed in 1717. A two-room surveyor's office was built adjacent to City Hall in 1867, which was used by the General Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey. It served as the local courthouse and jail, and was also used by the Provincial Assembly until 1775. On March 31, 1870 it was where Thomas Mundy Peterson, the first African American, voted in an election under the15th Amendment. The building burned in a fire in 1731 and was not rebuilt until 1745. Although it was renovated in 1826, 1872 and 2006, some of the 1717 structure still remains. The location contained court chambers, rooms for the Provincial Assembly until 1775, and was used as a schoolhouse and for community meetings. From about 1800 to 1870, City Hall Courthouse housed the public school classes. It is listed on both the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. A City Hall Park was also developed with a historic statue of George Washington and an exact replica of the Liberty Bell. The official address of Perth Amboy City hall is 260 High St, Perth Amboy, NJ 08861
Bellevue Hospital (est. 1736) located in NYC, New York is the oldest public hospital in America. It first opened just four years after the birth of George Washington and 40 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The hospital traces its origin from New York’s first permanent almshouse which was a two-story building built in 1736. In 1799, Bellevue Hospital became the first in the US to open a maternity ward. In 1867, the physicians from the hospital were also the first to report that TB was a preventable disease. The hospital can handle 30,000 inpatients, 105,000 emergency visits, and 460,000 outpatient clinic visits per year. Bellevue has an academic affiliation with the New York University School of Medicine, which enhances the quality of care provided to Bellevue patients. Bellevue is the medical facility for dignitaries visiting New York City, including the President of the United States and United Nations diplomats. Bellevue has defined the standard of practice for microsurgical replantation of hands, fingers and limbs as well as brain and spinal cord injuries. Its Geriatric Ambulatory Care Program is among the largest in the nation, caring for more than 5,000 seniors annually. In perinatal care, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue is the Regional Perinatal Center for the 11 hospitals within the health system. The official address of Bellevue is 462 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Moravian Book Shop (est. 1745) is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It is the oldest bookstore in America and the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world. Its home to the Moravian College student bookstore. For nearly three centuries, booklovers have looked to the book store for its selection of books and iconic Moravian- and Bethlehem-themed gifts. The Book Shop continues to offer its iconic book section that features indie best sellers, trade books, and select books highlighting the history of Moravians, Bethlehem, Bethlehem Steel, the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania. The Moravian Book Shop sells and buys back student textbooks. The Book Shop stocks Moravian College apparel and gift items, reference books, stationery and art supplies, greeting cards, candy, and health and beauty aids. The inventory also includes traditional Moravian- and Bethlehem-themed gifts and College faculty- and alumni-authored books. In 2015, the store opened its first satellite location in Center City Allentown as part of the Two City Center complex. The location was closed in May 2017 to refocus on the Bethlehem location and remaining stock was moved there. In April 2018 Moravian College announced the acquisition of the shop became the central student bookstore for the college. The official address of the Moravian Book Shop is 428 Main St, Bethlehem, PA 18018.
Bellows Falls Canal (est. 1802) is a canal constructed to allow boat traffic to bypass Great Falls on the Connecticut River in Bellows Falls, Vermont. It was constructed by the Bellows Falls Canal Company. The village of Bellows Falls grew on the Connecticut River as businesses used water power from the falls. In 1791, investors started building a canal around the falls to improve transportation along the river. Eventually the early canal was abandoned as train travel became more popular. The falls now generate hydroelectric power. The canal was constructed to allow boat traffic to bypass Great Falls on the Connecticut River in Bellows Falls, Vermont. The Bellows Falls Downtown Historic District includes the canal. The Library of Congress has a dry plate negative of the canal from 1907. A historical marker on Bridge Street in Bellows Falls, Vermont commemorates the canal's history. The lower end of the canal with the locks, south of Bridge Street along what is now Mill Street, is where many of the mills were built to use its power. The 1886 lithograph by Burleigh in the sidebar shows some of those mills. The official address is the Town of Rockingham, VT 05101Bellows Falls, Vermont.
Crawford Path (est. 1819) is the oldest, maintained, hiking path/trail in America. Located in New Hampshire it was originally used as a horse trail. The first iteration of the Crawford Path was cut in 1819 by Ethan Allen Crawford and his father, Abel Crawford. In commemoration of its 175th anniversary, it was designated a National Recreation Trail In 1994. The 8.5 mile spectacularly scenic trail transverses the Presidential Range, hitting many of the tallest summits in New Hampshire, including the summit of Mount Washington. It crosses all the districts on the White Mountain National Forest. Along the way the trail is marked by cairns, piles of rock that are used to mark the trail. Even when the weather is foggy or cloudy the rocks keep hikers on this well-worn path. The Appalachian Mountain Club maintains section of the trails, including the Lakes of the Clouds hut, where hikers can spend the night and even enjoy a pancake breakfast. The trail ascends a cumulative 4,900 feet (1,500 m), first through densely wooded forest for about 3.1 miles (5.0 km), then following the exposed southern ridge of the Presidential Range mostly above the treeline. As the first trail to the summit of 6,288-foot Mount Washington, the trail has provided adventure, physical challenge and fantastic views for two centuries of hikers.
West Point (est. 1802) located in is the oldest continuously occupied military post/base/academy in America. Its role in America's history dates back to the Revolutionary War, when both sides realized the strategic importance of the commanding plateau on the west bank of the Hudson River. General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America. Washington personally selected Thaddeus Kosciuszko, one of the heroes of Saratoga, to design the fortifications for West Point in 1778, and Washington transferred his headquarters to West Point in 1779. Continental soldiers built forts, batteries and redoubts and extended a 150-ton iron chain across the Hudson to control river traffic. Fortress West Point was never captured by the British, despite Benedict Arnold's treason. Since 1843, the mission of the West Point Museum has been to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret historically significant artifacts and stimulate interest in the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Army and the Profession of Arms. The West Point Museum also supplements academic, cultural and military instruction and provides educational programs and services for Cadets, the military and civilian personnel.