The Most Historic Neighborhood in Major American Cities

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The Most Historic Neighborhood in Major American Cities

Just about everywhere you can look in the U.S., there is a historic town or neighborhood to take us back to early America. It will often feel like you’ve stepped into a history book as you look around. While there are still plenty of neighborhoods full of glitz and glam like South Beach, just as many show up with influence on history. With this in mind, let’s look at the most historic neighborhoods in major American cities that you can visit right now.

French Quarter New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA at Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral.
One of the best places to visit in New Orleans is the French Quarter.

While New Orleans sits just outside the top 50 cities by population, the French Quarter feels well worth mentioning. Between Jackson Square where America’s oldest Roman Catholic Church was built in 1720 and the country’s oldest bar, Latiffe’s Blacksmith Shop Bar built in 1722, there is a lot to see. Rest assured there is far more to do in this area than just drink the night away on Bourbon St.

Old City Philadelphia

The historic old city in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Elfreth's Alley, referred to as the nation's oldest residential street, dating to 1702
Old City Philadelphia is home to some of the most important places in American History.

When you make a stop in Old City Philadelphia, you are stepping into “America’s most historic square mile”. It’s in this neighborhood that you will find Independence Hall where both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were ratified. As a bonus, the Liberty Bell is only a few steps away. Plus, you have Elfreth’s Alley, which is one of America’s oldest streets from 1703.

Beacon Hill

Acorn Street in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Visit Beacon Hill and you can find original cobblestone streets.

A protected historic district full of early American history, Beacon Hill in Boston is well worth a visit. Walking around the area on its cobblestone streets will have you finding brick homes adorned with decorative iron and so much history. Originally established in 1708, construction of the area’s mansions and row houses began in 1803.

Old Louisville

Old Louisville Fountain City Home
Visit Old Louisville and you can see a wonder of Victorian-era mansions.

An area once known as the Southern Extension, Old Louisville was built in the 1870s. The area is filled with some of the most pristine and beautiful Victorian-era mansions you have ever seen. These homes have even been restored to look like they did in the days when Louisville’s wealthiest residents called this area home.

Roland Park

The Guinness Book of World Records says Roland Park had the first shopping center.

Located in an area just outside Baltimore, Maryland is Roland Park. Designed by Edward Bouton and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. this now historic site is believed to be the first true suburb. At the time of its construction in 1890, the area was highly desired due to having electricity and gas. The Guinness World Records even indicates the Roland Park Shopping Center was the world’s first shopping center in 1907.

San Antonio de Bexar

The historical Mission San Antonio De Valero, known as The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.
Located near San Antonio is the location of the Alamo and multiple Church Missions.

While San Antonio de Bexar is better known as San Antonio today, it was the first civilian settlement in what we now know as Texas. The King William District is filled with the largest amount of Spanish architecture in North America. It’s also the site of the Alamo and San Antonio Church Missions, which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Santa Fe

San Miguel Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The San Miguel Chapel was the first built in the U.S. back in 1610.

Inside the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, you will find the Historic District, which hosts the country’s oldest state capital and the nation’s first public building. On top of that, the same area houses the oldest religious building in the U.S. with San Miguel Chapel, which was built in 1610. The area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Old Town Chicago

Old Town Chicago is home to some of the only buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire.

One of the most beautiful historic districts in Chicago, Old Town is home to beautiful Victorian-era mansions. Most notable in this area is the location of St. Michael’s Church, which was one of only seven buildings not destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Historic Oakwood

Historic Oakwood cemetery entrance and Spring trees in bloom in Raleigh North Carolina
Historic Oakwood is home to a popular Confederate Cemetery.

Located in Raleigh, North Carolina is Historic Oakwood, a beautiful 19th-century neighborhood. Building in this area began just after the Civil War, however, most of the homes were finished between 1890 and 1930. Many of the homes still stand today and draw a lot of tourists who also visit a Confederate Cemetery as a popular tourist attraction.

Pioneer Square

Pioneer's Totem - Seattle
Pioneer Square is believed to be the birthplace of Seattle.

Best known as the birthplace of Seattle, Pioneer Square is said to be the area’s first neighborhood. First settled in 1852, the area is known for its Renaissance Revival architecture and First Thursday art walks. There is also the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and Smith Tower Observatory. The area is known as a preservation district after all of the homes were rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1889.

Corktown Detroit

Vintage Squirt soda sign, in Corktown, Detroit, Michigan
Old signs like Squirt are some of the most Instagrammed photos from Corktown, Detroit.

Home to Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, Corktown is where the original Irish immigrants settled in the 1840s. Once home to the Detroit Tigers baseball team, the area is still home to the famous Fox Theatre, Detroit Historical Museum, and Detroit Institute of the Arts. The area has also been called one of the most Instagrammed places in the world.

Irvington Portland Oregon

Irvington Historic District
If you stop by Irvington in Oregon, you’ll see historic homes still standing.

A neighborhood in the northeast part of Portland, Oregon, the area is essentially a giant rectangle. The homes in the area are its biggest attraction, many of which take up oversized lots. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, thousands of tourists visit the homes every spring.

Broadway Theater District

Los Angeles, California – October 11, 2023: Broadway Theater District sign. The Broadway Theater District in the Historic Core of Downtown Los Angeles with twelve Theater palaces.
The Broadway Theater District in Los Angeles is home to many historic movie theaters.

The first and largest historic theater district on the National Register of Historic Places is the Broadway Theater District in Los Angeles. The area is currently home to 12 different movie palaces across a six-block stretch of Broadway Street. It’s believed that between 1900 and 1910, Broadway was a prime example of the explosive growth Los Angeles was undergoing.

Charleston Historic District

Charleston, South Carolina, USA in the French Quarter.
Visit the Charleston Historic District and see the rainbow row of buildings.

While Charleston might not be one of the largest cities in the U.S., few cities have the same level of history. A whopping 97 properties in the Charleston Historic District neighborhood are on the National Register of Historic Places. This includes areas like Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. You can also visit Rainbow Row, which is a combination of 13 18th-century buildings long considered one of the city’s most photographed streets.


North America, United States, District of Columbia, Washington DC, Old Stone House museum in Georgetown
Georgetown is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the U.S.

As part of Washington, D.C., Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood in the city. Officially designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1967, you have everything from beautiful architecture to the steps of the The Exorcist movie. Take a ride and see Tudor Place, the original home of the granddaughter of George Washington. You can also see the Old Stone House, the oldest structure in the Washington, D.C. area, which was built in 1765.

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