Where are the oldest houses in America? We rank the top cities by oldest median house age.
Every city is a mix of geography, culture, and history. Cities grow and evolve with the personalities of the people who live there, and perhaps nothing better reflects a city’s character than the age and architectural style of its buildings and houses.
Though the U.S. is still a young country relative to the rest of the world, some of its major cities feature historically prominent neighborhoods full of houses that have passed through many generations of residents, dating back long before modern amenities. Not surprisingly, cities with older houses are making efforts to protect, restore, and maintain their historical charm in response to demand from their residents.
The relative age of houses in a city also has a profound effect on housing costs, as older cities tend to be more expensive, while offering a glimpse into which housing markets will present renovation opportunities in the future. We broke down housing data from across the country to identify which cities tend to have the oldest houses. Some of the results may surprise you.
10. San Francisco, CA
San Francisco is known and loved for its charming Victorian style homes, many of which were constructed in the late 1800s and still stand today. In general, most housing construction in the city by the bay followed the population boom of the early 20th century. Between 1900 and 1930, the population of San Francisco nearly doubled from 350,000 to more than 650,000. This period saw the construction of a large number of new residential houses, leading to the development of some of the city’s most popular residential neighborhoods.
9. Oakland, CA
Oakland is the largest city on the East side of the Bay Area and is known for energetic downtown attractions like Jack London Square and the Paramount Theater. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many citizens moved east to Oakland, which enlarged the city’s population and diversified its 50 distinct neighborhoods. Similar to San Francisco, many houses in the residential district of Oakland draw influence from Beaux Arts, Late Gothic Revival, and Modern styles. An abundance of amenities in the Oakland area guarantees no person has to travel far to get the things they need. Because Oakland is located in the pricey Bay Area, the cost of living is 58% higher than the national average.
8. Providence, RI
Providence is the most populous city in the state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. The city is known for its Greek and Gothic Revival style houses, many of which are inhabited to this day. In the 1990s, the city began to revitalize the downtown area. The project resulted in a lively, walkable neighborhood that draws in thousands of tourists every year. Providence also has a very diverse population, most notably being home to one of the nation’s largest Dominican communities. As a result, Providence is noteworthy for its unique culinary and cultural traditions.
7. Quincy, MA
Located just south of Boston, Quincy has a rich and eventful history reflected in its charming residential neighborhoods. The “City of Presidents” thrived as a shopping destination in the ‘50s and has managed to preserve its commercial importance into the present. From its beginning as a center for industrial activity in granite and shipbuilding, Quincy has evolved from a residential suburb of Boston into an influential and popular city in its own right. Over the past 20 years, Quincy’s thriving real estate market has drawn in thousands of buyers looking for easy access to Boston and opportunities to explore one of the largest coastlines in Massachusetts.
6. Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn was once known as an industrial borough of New York, but has grown over the past decade into a city with abundant cultural attractions and some of the most sought-after residential neighborhoods in the nation. Each of its 18 neighborhoods proclaims its own identity, offering residents no shortage of architectural housing styles and options to live in a thriving community. From mom-and-pop shops to up-and-coming bars and restaurants, people who live in Brooklyn are guaranteed to find a niche in this large (more than two million residents) and bustling division of greater New York City.
5. Baltimore, MD
With hundreds of distinct districts, Baltimore is sometimes known as the “City of Neighborhoods.” The city is divided into nine regions that contain an estimated 250 unique communities. From its founding in 1729, Baltimore has generated fits and starts of creativity and economic prosperity. After a fire in 1904 consumed most of the city, redevelopment efforts began that ultimately led to a vibrant, more accessible city. The revitalization of Baltimore also created a booming real estate market in many parts of town, as well as the preservation of colorful historical districts such as Mount Vernon and Federal Hill.
4. Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia is often referred to as “The City of Brotherly Love” and is known for its food scene and patriotic significance as the home of the American independence movement. Philly still maintains relatively affordable housing when compared with other metropolitan cities in the northeast. Georgian and Federal style buildings make up most of the attractive downtown area. Although the population density here is well above the nation’s average, the amount and availability of homes in the city and surrounding neighborhoods more than makes up for it. To this day, Philadelphia offers residents a welcoming mix of modern amenities and historically popular American culture.
3. Berkeley, CA
Located east of San Francisco and north of Oakland, Berkeley boasts a blend of established and up-and-coming residential neighborhoods bursting with personality. The city is home to the oldest school in the University of California system, UC Berkeley, which features impressive structures built in the Beaux-Arts Classical style. In the neighborhoods surrounding the city, you can see examples of Craftsman, Italianate, and Tudor homes. As with many cities on this list, Berkeley’s eclectic mix of traditional and innovative housing styles attracts a renowned architectural community.
2. Newark, NJ
Often known more for its airport or status as a stop-through on the way to New York City, Newark doesn’t get enough due as a city with a prominent historical footprint. Chock full of attractions listed on state and national historic registers, Newark also shines for its mosaic of charming and architecturally diverse houses. The city’s roots as host to an influential Portuguese community intermingle with a fascinating colonial past represented in Victorian, Tudor, Romanesque, and Mediterranean houses. Not surprisingly, cost of living here is about 20% higher than the national average.
1. Boston, MA
The city with the oldest median age of houses, by a long shot, is Boston. Settled in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England, Boston plays a leading role in all of American History. Today, Boston is a grand sum of extraordinary neighborhoods. Each area has a personality, community, and history separate from the others. Downtown is made up of low-rise Federal and Greek Revival style buildings, while nearby residential neighborhoods contain some of the largest surviving communities of Victorian-era buildings. With a huge and growing population and high demand for real estate, the city breeds a competitive environment among residents for unique and beautiful homes. Neighborhoods are a seamless mix of college students, families, and business professionals, while restaurants, shopping, and nightlife are constantly updating. The end result is that Bostonians enjoy some of the country’s deepest history with all the trappings of a modern cosmopolitan city.
Further reading: Millennials Are Buying Homes in These Top Cities
Complete list of top 25
Here is the list of top 25 cities with the oldest median age of its houses.
To determine the cities with the oldest median age of houses in the U.S., we looked at public tax assessor records and real estate listing data for residential houses in the largest 660 markets, provided by First American Data, and calculated median year of home construction and median overall age. Population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Note: two of the cities in our top 25 listing (Brooklyn, NY, and Jamaica, NY) are not considered cities by the U.S. Census Bureau. They were included due to their large populations and significant statistical sample size.
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