Oldest Streets in America

Not only is the east coast home to some of the oldest roads in America, but it is also home to some of the oldest streets. These streets represent some of the earliest urban planning in America and they still exist today, serving as important parts of these historic towns.

The following is a list of the oldest streets in America;

Aviles Street in St Augustine (early 1600s):

Located in St. Augustine, Florida, one of the oldest towns in America, Aviles Street is considered to be the oldest street in America.

The street was built by Spanish settlers sometime in the early 1600s. Archaeologist for the city of St. Augustine, Carl Halbirt, found pottery shards dating back to the time period under the current bricks of Aviles Street, thus proving its age.

City Library, Aviles Street & Artillery Lane, Saint Augustine, FL. Photo by Historical American Buildings Survey

From the colonial era until about 1924, the street was known as Hospital Street due to the Spanish Military Hospital being built on the street in 1790.

Aviles Street still exists today and is now a popular cultural and tourist hub for the city and is home to a number of museums, art galleries, restaurants, and shops located within its historic buildings.

Leyden Street in Plymouth (1620):

Located in Plymouth, Mass, another one of the oldest towns in America, Leyden Street was the location of the Mayflower pilgrim’s first homes which they began building in December of 1620. It is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited street in British North America.

Leyden Street originally went by many names, such as First Street, Great Street and Broad Street. In 1823, the street was named Leyden Street, after the city of Leiden in the Netherlands where the pilgrims had lived before coming to the New World.

Leyden Street today is still a residential street and is home to a number of 18th and 19th century houses.

Broadway in New York City (1624):

Located in New York City, Broadway is one of the oldest streets in New York City.

Broadway was originally a part of the Wickquasgeck trail, a Native American footpath that ran the length of the island.

When the Dutch settled the island as part of the New Netherlands colony in 1624, they widened that section of the footpath and made it the main north-south road through the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, calling the street Heeren Wegh or Heeren Straat, meaning “Gentlemen’s Way” or “Gentlemen’s Street.”

View of Broadway, New York City in 1865

When the British seized the New Netherlands colony in 1664, they renamed the street Broadway due to its unusual width.

In 1811, the street grid plan was laid out but Broadway was allowed to remain, despite the fact that it cuts diagonally through the grid, because it preceded the introduction of the grid.

Broadway has since become the cultural hub of New York City and is now home to the theater district and its many entertainment venues.

one of the two main streets laid out during the dutch times

State Street in Boston (1630):

Located in Boston, Mass, State Street was one of the original streets in Boston when it was established by the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1630. The street was the main route between the town center and Boston Harbor.

Originally known as Market Street, until 1708 when it was renamed King Street, the street became the central hub for both commerce and government.

Old State House, corner of Washington Street and State Street, Boston, MA. Photo by Historic American Buildings Survey.

Many of the early settlers homes were located on the street as well as a number of important buildings, such as the First Church of Boston and the Old State House where the Boston Massacre took place in 1770.

King Street was renamed State Street after the Revolutionary War and has since become an important part of the financial district in Boston.

Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia (1703):

Located in Philadelphia, PA, Elfreth’s Alley was built in 1703 as a residential street to house local tradesmen and their families, making it the oldest continuously residential street in the country.

Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The street was named after local blacksmith Jeremiah Elfreth and is home to 32 historic houses which were built between 1703 and 1836.

The street was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historical Landmark in 1960.

Sources:
“Elfreth’s Alley.” Visit Philadelphia, visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/elfreths-alley/
“Leyden Street Historical Marker.” Historical Marker Database, hmdb.org/m.asp?m=75830
“City archaeologist: Oldest street in US is here.” St. Augustine Record, 4 May. 2010, staugustine.com/story/news/2010/05/04/city-archaeologist-oldest-street-us-here/16190049007/
“Aviles Street.” Visit St. Augustine, visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/aviles-street
“Welcome to the Oldest Street in the USA.” Florida Historical Coast, floridashistoriccoast.com/blog/welcome-oldest-street-usa/

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the author and publisher of Historic Sites USA. Rebecca is a freelance journalist and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in New England after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism.

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