Studying the history of the oldest streets in America will give you a new perspective on the country. It will open your eyes to see that there is more to America than side attractions, beaches, museums, and ancient sites.
These streets date back to centuries ago when America was still trying to discover itself. But today, they have been transformed. They are lined with delicious eateries, side attractions, museums, and more.
Here, we will unravel the oldest streets in the United States of America. Keep reading to know more.
1: Huguenot Street, New Paltz, New York:
Huguenot Street is the oldest street in America and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. It remains the oldest and continuously inhabited street in the country.
Interestingly, the stone houses Huguenots from France built on this street in the 1600s exist today. They have become a major attraction, with hundreds of visitors visiting the area annually.
This street dates back to the 17th century and was created in 1678. So, it’s over 300 years old.
How did this street get its name?
Americans didn’t coin the name “Huguenot.” The French did. The name originated from a small group of French Protestants. The group escaped France following a conflict between Protestants and Catholics at the time and decided to reside in upstate New York.
You can visit Huguenots to explore the historic stone houses. Feel the furnishings, textiles, clothing, and other artifacts left by the French settlers in the area. You’ll learn much about their lifestyles from these items.
In addition to passport stamps, other amenities include restrooms and public transportation, and it is family-friendly.
Check out other nearby destinations you can visit:
- Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art
- Frank D. Roosevelt Library and Museum
- John Burroughs’ Slabsides and Nature Sanctuary
- D & H Canal Historical Society and Museum
- Walkway Over The Hudson State Historic Park
2: Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
The Elfreth’s Alley was founded in 1703 and is called America’s oldest residential street. It was named after Jeremiah Elfreth, an 18th-century property owner and blacksmith.
Did you know one-third of Elfreth Alley’s households were headed by women in the 1770s? Another unique thing about this street is how they built the Elfreth’s Alley.
Arthur Wells and John Gilbert built the Elfreth’s Alley. They had a cart path opened between their properties from Front St. end to Second St. in 1703. It was later named “Elfreth’s Alley” to honor Jeremiah Elfreth.
This street had 32 residences, the first of which began around 1703 and 1836. In addition to the thoroughfare, the Elfreth’s Museum is another must-see attraction in this area.
The Elfreth’s Alley became a National Historic Landmark in 1996 and has been massively transformed. It used to be a popular spot for silversmiths, glassblowers, and tradespeople. But today, you’ll find impressively constructed modern houses, making it a must-visit tourist attraction.
A Handy Tip: Elfreth’s Alley residents are friendly and lovely. Every year, on the first Saturday in December, the residents open their doors to the public for an event called “Deck the Alley.”
The idea is to allow visitors to see their historic homes decorated for the holidays inside out. In addition to catching a glimpse of these historic homes, cider, baked goods, and musicians usually round up the events.
You can visit the Mantua Maker’s Museum House to learn more about Elfreth’s Alley’s history. There is so much to explore and enjoy on this street.
3: Three Notch’d Road, Charlottesville, Virginia:
The Three Notch’d Road also known as the “Three Chopt Road” is a colonial-era east-west route across central Virginia. Other names include the Mountain Ridge or Mountain Road.
This street “Three Notch’d Road” uniquely got its name. It is believed to be named after the distinctive markings of three notches cut into trees used to pass through the forest.
In addition to the local beer, Jack Jouett’s famous 40-mile ride during the American Revolutionary War is one of the historic events in this area. Jack used the moonlight and the notches on the trees to locate Charlottesville, alerting them of the incoming British troops. He successfully warned Thomas Jefferson, including other members of the Virginia legislature, to flee before the British troops arrived.
The Three Notch’d Road runs from Richmond to Shenandoah Valley. And it’s a must-visit landmark in America. The street was established in the 1730s.
4: Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Los Angeles:
Here is another historic street in the heart of the French Quarter, New Orleans. It is home to some famous and must-see attractions in New Orleans.
This street was established around 1721, making it one of the oldest streets in the United States of America. It is also part of the Mardi Gras celebration in the French Quarters.
Besides being rich in historic venues, Bourbon is a city blessed with social tales and packed with iconic buildings. It dates back to 1721 and was named after the French’s governing family.
Adrien de Pauger laid out the street of New Orleans’s plan in 1721 and decided to let one of the streets carry the name of the French royal family, Rue Bourbon.
Several places of interest exist in Bourbon. It boasts luxury spots like The Royal Sonesta Hotel, which opened around 1969. However, the hotel’s site dates back to the city’s establishment.
Today, Bourbon Street has become more than a residential area. It has become a popular tourist attraction, offering a unique blend of American and French culture. There are varied entertainment options in this area to take away boredom.
The vibrant nightlife in this street should appease fun-seekers and vacationers. The streets boast some of the country’s must-visit restaurants and historic buildings like the Old Absinthe House, constructed in 1825.
So, there is much to enjoy and cheer for when visiting this street. It is an excellent destination for vacationers as one may get tempted to extend their stay.
5: Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC
Pennsylvania Avenue, a street between the White House and the US Capitol, is an important city asset. It is one of America’s most iconic public spaces, where the District and federal government share several interests.
This street dates back to 1791 and is 56.5 km in length. Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president was the first prominent individual to recognize this street.
Several things make this street unique. One is that it was one of the Federal City’s first and most iconic streets ever constructed. Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a Frenchman who joined the American military, built it.
Pennsylvania Avenue was home to numerous stores and considered Washington DC’s first down street. However, a lot has changed in this iconic street in recent years. Over time, changes in physical, economic, and land use conditions have massively impacted the Avenue’s characteristics and reduced its utility as a street.
Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, remains an essential street to the country, as it features the most significant landmarks in the US Capitol.
You’ll have a lot to do when you visit this street. You can explore Washington DC’s must-see historical sites, including monuments.
There are several nearby side attractions to keep you engaged throughout your stay. These include the famous National Building Museum, Stanton Park, and National Mall, home to the iconic Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Free things you can do near Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.
- Explore the gallery of art
- Check out Anderson House
- Visit the Wharf DC
- Visit the iconic Navy Yard
- Visit the museum of illusion
- Check out the Museum of the Bible.
- Visit the International Spy Museum
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Smithsonian National Zoology Park awaits you
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
You can see many free things you can do in and around Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, one of the most important streets in the United States of America.
6: Washington Street, Manhattan, New York:
Washington Street is a north-south Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It was initially the property of Trinity Church before it became a city in 1808.
Manhattan now owns the street, which extends from 14th Street (its northernmost end) in the Meatpacking District to Battery Palace in Battery Park City (southern end)
Washington Street is an iconic street named after America’s first and most decorated president, George Washington. It also hosted the World Trade Center, which the country lost to an attack on September 11, 2001.
You will find several iconic structures in this city. It had the first state penitentiary, Newgate Prison, from 1797 to 1829. The Verizon Building, Washington Street Plaza, West Village Houses, and Westbeth Artist Community are iconic buildings here. It also boasts luxury hotels, though public transportation is an issue because it is located far west.
7: Wall Street, Manhattan, New York
Wall Street is a popular name around the globe. Even those outside the United States of America know this street even though they haven’t been there.
Wall Street is one of the most iconic streets in the United States of America and one of the oldest in the country. Stock exchange, commercial banks, investment banking firms, financial services, brokerage and broker-dealers, and underwriting firms symbolize why Wall Street is the financial nerve center of America.
This street is also home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world’s largest stock exchange, going by market capitalization. It is also home to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, including many notable insurance companies.
You’ll find several iconic buildings on Wall Street. This includes the famous New York Stock Exchange building, erected in the early twentieth century.
The Anglo-Dutch Wars in 1652 was the period Wall Street construction started. Then, it was known as “de Waal Straat.”
This street played a vital role in the history of the United States of America. It functioned as a slave market around 1711 until the state, New York, turned America’s first capital. However, the street was eventually established in 1792.
Manhattan is New York City’s busiest borough. It is also one of the most expensive places to live in America.
7 must-see spots in Wall Street, New York City’s financial district:
- Federal Hall National Memorial
- The New York Stock Exchange
- Fearless Girl
- Trinity Church
- The Charging Bull
- Bowling Green Park
8: Acorn Street, Boston, Massachusetts:
Acorn Street was established in 1820, making it one of the oldest streets in America. It has been part of the Beacon Hill area, a part of Boston, Massachusetts.
The row houses are among the prestigious and iconic structures on this street. Traders and artisans lived in these houses in the nineteenth century.
This street is one of the most photographed streets in Boston. It takes you back to colonial Boston. The street is paved with gorgeous stones (cobblestones) and boasts iconic architecture, including a charming old-school New England feel.
So, this street is camera-friendly. It is one of the most gorgeous streets you’ll find in the country. However, note that Acorn became a private street in the 1980s as residents took over its maintenance to prevent the City of Boston from changing its look.
So, the street is unique. Its design and structures allow visitors to experience the ever-bustling city of Boston’s unique side. Tourists love it here. They enjoy strolling through the street and taking photographs.
Colonial-style buildings also line the street. They are buildings occupied by the 19th-century merchants and craftspeople who operated in the area.
This street is not just gorgeous but clean. It is one of the cleanest in the country. The cobblestones make walking through Acorn Street enjoyable.
Here are some things you can explore or do when you visit this street or its neighborhood.
- Boston Public Library
- Visit Freedom Trail
- Explore Fenway Park
You can participate in the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museums tour. Make plans to attend any other event taking place in this iconic city.
9. St. George Street, St. Augustine, Florida:
St. George Street is a popular street established in 1808. It is a thoroughfare and pedestrian-only street lined with shops, side attractions, and restaurants, immersed in a massive history.
So, there is plenty to see and explore in this old street. The city is one of the country’s oldest cities, too.
This street is iconic and constructed to serve a purpose. The idea was to serve as the city’s primary defense, but that isn’t the case today. It has now transformed into one of the most charming streets in the United States of America.
The gates are breathtaking. They are one of St. George’s historical landmarks. The street has become one of the hottest places for tourists nationwide.
There is plenty to see, do, and eat here. So come prepared. And ensure you have enough time to spare and rest assured you won’t get bored here.
10: Leyden Street, Plymouth, Massachusetts:
This street was established in 1823 and was first called “First Street.” That’s what the original inhabitants called it.
In Plymouth, Massachusetts, Leyden Street is one of the state’s oldest and continually occupied streets.
The Pilgrims settled in Leyden in 1620. However, the street’s name was changed to Leyden in 1823. Unfortunately, many of the original homes constructed on this street are no more. The only ones that are still standing are only a handful. Additionally, they are a collection from the 18th and 19th centuries.
You can do so many things when you visit Leyden Street, Plymouth. You’ll also have plenty to eat and drink.
The oldest streets in America are still standing strong. These streets were created centuries ago, with some still having their original buildings intact.
Many of these streets have become tourist attractions, receiving hundreds of visitors yearly. They boast several side attractions, landmark buildings, fantastic architecture, and thoroughfare.
Additionally, some of these streets organize annual events to bring everyone together. This is a great time for visitors to stop by, learn about the city, and make new friends.