America’s Oldest City

There’s a town in New England called Jamestown or Jonestown or something like that. It has signs proclaiming it to be America’s first town. But it’s not even close to that. Not even remotely close.

Let’s start with America’s actual oldest town, and work back from there. It’s hard to say for sure, but the Acoma Pueblo is probably the oldest burg in the US where people still live. It launched around the year 1000, give or take. That’s a bunch of years before any European mofo visited our shores. These days, Acoma is a kind-of-crappy little town on I-40, but that crappy little town is the oldest still-occuipied settlement in North America. Truly, America’s oldest city. A little reverence is due when you drive through.

The Taos pueblo has been continuously occupied since long before Europeans tripped over the continent on the way to India. This isn’t a matter of who was here first; there is a condo complex in North America dating to the time of William the Conqueror. It’s still occupied, largely unchanged. It’s still condo, but the covenants are a bitch.

So, OK, the claim by Jamestown that they’re the oldest burgh on the continent is clearly delusional. But what do we care about those crazy aboriginals? What really matters is when Europeans built themselves a town.

Only, the Spanish were building towns in North America for a full century before the English set timid toe to shore in North America. Santa Fe was a going concern by the time the Pilgrims staggered ashore.

That leaves Jamestown as the oldest settlement in North America founded by people who speak English. Which, you know, is really the seminal moment in world exploration. I’d be proud if I lived there. Really.

2 thoughts on “America’s Oldest City

  1. Jamestown (in southern Virginia, not New England, but hey – I wouldn’t have known that either if I didn’t live over here), recently made a big to-do over their 400th anniversary. Going along with your comment that it is the oldest english speaking settlement, Queen Elizabeth came over to help celebrate. I think it was 2011, don’t quite remember. Please do not mention either savages or those spaniards in her majesty’s presence. Unless, of course, you’re talking about a good madeira.

    • Not sure what caused me to say New England when I wrote that – I knew it was in your neck of the woods. Let’s just say I wasn’t feeling too fact-checky when I spewed that one out (as you can tell because I didn’t even bother to get the name of the town right). Thanks for the extra info.

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