If you're history buffs like us, you most likely have wondered what place is really the oldest town / settlement / city in America. Depending on the source, the answer may very well be different. So which is it? St. Augustine, Albany, Hudson, Lewes, Jamestown or somewhere else? We break down the interpretation of these places which each hold a unique historic distinction in their claim to being the "oldest".
Established in 1607, Jamestown, Virginia is sometimes called America's oldest town, but that isn't accurate. Although the Jamestown settlement became the first permanent English settlement in North America it was abandoned after the capital moved to Williamsburg in 1699. It stayed that way (not existing as a city, town or settlement) until the late 1800's. In 1893 the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities took ownership of 22.5 acres on the west side of Jamestown Island. Today Jamestown is not a city or town. It is a National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park System. The remaining acreage on the island was acquired by the National Park Service in 1934 and made part of the Colonial National Historical Park.
Hudson, New York has the distinction as the first city in America to be incorporated after the Thirteen Colonies became the United States. Which technically makes it the oldest American city. The idea of Hudson started even before the Treaty of Paris was signed. A group of men from Nantucket and New Bedford—seafarers, owners of whaling ships—were convinced that King George would not be content to let the American colonies go, and the British would be back to recapture what they’d lost. Hudson was originally inhabited by the Mohican Indians. The first known European to navigate the river was Henry Hudson in 1609. In 1783 two Nantucket merchants bought Claverack Landing, and the whaling trade flourished.
Albany, New York is one of the oldest surviving European settlements from the original Thirteen Colonies and the longest continuously chartered city in the United States. Fur traders established the first European settlement in 1614; The city was officially chartered in 1686 under English rule. In 1797, Albany became the official capital of New York State. Since then, Albany has been a center for banking, railroads, and international trade. Albany has a rich history dating back more than 400 years. When Henry Hudson arrived in 1609, the area was already home to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and the Dutch had established a trading post.
Lewes, Delaware is the first town in the first state of the United States. Delaware was one of the 13 Colonies that took part in the American Revolution. On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the US, and has since been known as The First State. Lewes was the first town/city founded in Delaware. Discovered by Henry Hudson on a voyage up the Delaware River in August, 1609, and first settled by the Dutch in 1631, historic Lewes (pronounced Loo-iss) boasts old homes and structures that date back to the late 1600s and early 1700s. Lewes has been the scene of historic battles and has been visited by infamous pirates such as Captain Kidd.
Plymouth was the site of the first permanent settlement by Europeans in the region of modern-day New England in the United States. It is was established by Pilgrims, also known as the Pilgrim Fathers, who sailed on the Mayflower. They were separatist Puritans who had broken away from the Church of England, believing that the Church had not completed the work of the Protestant Reformation. Although never officially incorporated, the town was recognized in 1633 as the seat of Plymouth colony, which was absorbed into Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691. The Plymouth Rock is the site where William Bradford and other Pilgrims first set foot on land.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine, Florida is technically the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States. 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown and 35 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish established at St. Augustine. Founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, The City has been nicknamed: ‘Ancient City’ and ‘Old City’". It's Claimed That The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park Occupies the Vicinity Where Juan Ponce de Leon First Landed in Florida in 1513. St. Augustine started as a Spanish colony, was handed to Britain in a treaty in 1763, was returned to the Spanish in 1783 and became part of a new U.S. territory in 1821.