What is the Oldest City in the United States?

Quck answer

The oldest city in the United States is St. Augustine, Florida. It was founded by Spanish explorers in 1565, making it over 450 years old. St. Augustine has a rich history with influences from Spanish, British, and American cultures. The city is known for its historic architecture, cobblestone streets, and landmarks like the Castillo de San Marcos. Visitors can explore museums, churches, and the charming old town filled with shops and restaurants. St. Augustine is a popular tourist destination and a living testament to the country’s colonial past.

When it comes to age, the United States is relatively young compared to countries like China, Egypt, Greece, or Ethiopia. So, where can we find the oldest city in the U.S.?

Although it may seem like a simple question, there is disagreement over the answer. Many people would say that the oldest city in the U.S. is St. Augustine, Florida.

In 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon explored Florida and landed in St. Augustine in search of the Fountain of Youth. This makes it the oldest city in the continental United States.

St. Augustine was founded as a Spanish territory in 1565, which is 42 years before Jamestown, Virginia, and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock!

During the 1700s, St. Augustine became a British colony, but the city still retains its Spanish influence in its buildings, especially in the Historic District where you can find numerous old buildings with balconies overlooking narrow streets.

However, even before Juan Ponce de Leon reached Florida, he founded another city called Caparra, which is now known as San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, San Juan is considered the oldest city under U.S. sovereignty.

San Juan is one of the largest natural harbors in the Caribbean and has always been an important city for trade. Many people also admire its beauty, with its parks, plazas, and museums.

It is important to note that both San Juan and St. Augustine were settled by Europeans. Indigenous peoples had already built cities in the Americas long before the arrival of Europeans, but unfortunately, these cities were invaded and destroyed by the Europeans. However, some remnants of these cities can still be seen today.

One such settlement is the ancient city of Cahokia, believed to have been settled by the Mississippians around 700 C.E. It quickly grew to become one of the largest cities in the world, with some historians even suggesting that more people lived there than in London during the same time period. However, for unknown reasons, the city was mostly abandoned by the year 1400.

Today, the Cahokia Mounds site in Illinois, located between East St. Louis and Collinsville, preserves the large earthen mounds built by the Mississippians. This site is one of the 21 World Heritage Sites in the U.S.

Of course, the United States is home to many other old cities and sites. Can you think of any others? And what about ancient places in other countries? The world is filled with fascinating historical sites waiting to be explored. Where would you like to begin?

Give it a Try

Remember to ask an adult for help with the activities below!

  • Now that you have some knowledge about the history of America’s oldest cities, how about exploring the history of the town you reside in? Seek assistance from a friend or family member to discover more about your local area. Begin by creating a list of inquiries. Following that, utilize the internet or visit your nearby library to find the answers.
  • If you are interested in learning more about the Cahokia Mounds, visit the UNESCO page dedicated to the site. What information did you gather about the history of Cahokia? Why has it been designated as a World Heritage site? Summarize your findings in a letter or email to a friend or family member, and don’t forget to include your favorite picture from the site!
  • Take a look at these photographs of San Juan and St. Augustine. Which city would you most like to visit and why? Discuss your preference with a friend or family member.

Wonder Sources

  • https://www.ancient.eu/cahokia/ (accessed 25 Mar. 2020)
  • https://www.britannica.com/place/Saint-Augustine-Florida-United-States (accessed 25 Mar. 2020)
  • https://www.thoughtco.com/oldest-cities-in-the-united-states-4144705 (accessed 25 Mar. 2020)
  • https://welcome.topuertorico.org/city/sanjuan.shtml (accessed 25 Mar. 2020)

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