The Oldest Cities in North America

Flores, Guatemala, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in North America.
Flores, Guatemala, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in North America.

From as early as 11,000 BC, North America was mainly inhabited by the North American Indians. However, they did not reside in permanent settlements, therefore, they left little to no permanent buildings. The oldest cities in North America offer more than just a history lesson. Some of them are still small towns, while others have grown into thriving world focal points. There are numerous cities and settlements that represent the enduring spirit of the continent. Below is a list of the oldest continually inhabited places in North America.

The Oldest Cities in North America

Oraibi, United States

Oraibi is a village belonging to the Hopi tribe that is found in the northeastern region of Arizona, specifically in Navajo County. Oraibi is also popularly known as Orayvi by its indigenous inhabitants and is situated in the Hopi Reservation on the Third Mesa near the village of Kykotsmovi. Oraibi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America, having been established before the year 1100 CE. According to archeological speculation, the Hopi were forced to abandon some of their smaller villages in the area due to a series of severe droughts during the late 13th century. As a result, the Hopi were concentrated in a few population centers around the area. Oraibi is among the surviving settlements whose population grew making the place popular.

Mexico City, Mexico

Founded in 1325, Mexico City is among the oldest cities in North America. Mexico City was established by the Mexica people who formerly built the city as Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texcoco. Between the years of 1325 and 1521, Tenochtitlan matured in both strength and size and eventually dominated other cities in the Valley of Mexico around Lake Texcoco. However, the city was almost destroyed during the siege of Tenochtitlan in 1521.

Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City was founded on July 3rd, 1608, by French navigator, soldier, ethnologist, geographer, explorer, cartographer, chronicler, and diplomat known as Samuel de Champlain. Quebec is among North America's oldest European settlements. The city was established at the settlement of St. Lawrence Iroquoian at an old abandoned site known as Stadacona.

Detroit, United States

Detroit, which is the most populous city in the US state of Michigan, is among the oldest cities in North America. Detroit was founded on July 24th, 1701, by French adventurer and explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac along with a group of settlers. The regions close to Detroit were inhabited by the Paleo-Indian people around 11,000 years ago. During the 17th century, the Potawatomi, Huron, Iroquois, and Odawa people inhabited the region. French colonialists named the city Detroit after the Detroit River. Detroit is home to the second-oldest Catholic Church in the US regarding the continuous operation. The parish is known as Ste. Anne de Detroit and it was established on July 26th, 1701 and constructed between 1886 and 1887.

Other Oldest Cities in North America

The 26 oldest cities in North America have been continuously inhabited. Some sources might dispute the age claims listed in the cities. Different opinions can also result due to the different definitions of the term 'city' as well as 'continuously inhabited.' Of the 26 oldest cities in North America, seven are found in Canada, eight are found in the US and eleven are found in Mexico and Central America.

The Oldest Cities in North America

Rank´╗┐City Time of first inhabitants
1Cholula, Mexico2000 BCE
2Flores, Guatemala 1000 BCE
3Oraibi, United states1100
4Acoma Pueblo, United States1200
5Mexico City, Mexico1325
6Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic1496
7Panama City, Panama1500s
8San Juan, Puerto Rico1508
9Nombre de Dios, Panama1510
10Baracoa, Cuba1511
11Vera Cruz, Mexico1519
12St. Augustine, Florida1565
13Havana, Cuba1592
14Sante Fe, New Mexico1607
15Quebec City, Canada1608
16Albany, New York1614
17Plymouth, Massachusetts1620
18St. John's, Canada1630
19Saint John, Canada1631
20Trois Rivieres, Canada1642
21Montreal, Canada1642
22Sault Ste. Marie, United States1668
23Detroit, United States1701
24Winnipeg, Canada1738
25San Diego, United States1769
26Victoria, Canada1843

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