Most Historic Cities in the US

Evelyn Long

Feb 25, 2023


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Whether you are a young renter in your 20s, a recent college graduate, a job seeker or eager for a fresh start, you may find that living in historical cities in the US delivers an exciting opportunity to learn about the past.

Of course, deciding which historic city is suitable for you depends on what you’re looking for. Population size, amenities, rentals and cost of living all come into play. Here are five of the most historical cities in the U.S. you might want to consider.

1. Salem, Massachusetts

In a short 40-minute drive about 25 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts, you’ll find the ever-charming, historic Salem. Salem is a much smaller city than Boston, with a population shy of about 45,000 people in 2021.

Salem is perhaps best known for the Salem Witch Trials that took place in 1692-93. The hysteria began the arrest of four-year-old Dorothy Good and her mother, Sarah — accused of practicing witchcraft. One year later, 150 Salem villagers were formally tried for witchcraft. 19 people were hanged, one was crushed to death, and another five died in prison.

Today, Salem celebrates its spooky history with witch-themed cafes, boutiques and museums that line cobblestone streets. Of course, living in Salem comes at a price — the average rent is $2,313 for a 953-square-foot apartment. 

2. Oakland, California

There may be nowhere else in the country that boasts a history so deeply-rooted in racial justice and activism than Oakland, California. As the birthplace of prominent resistance groups like the Black Panther Party, Brown Berets and Black Lives Matter, Oakland is the perfect historic city for people in their 20s seeking diversity and community empowerment.

Oakland is home to approximately 433,000 people, with immigrants accounting for 26.3% of residents and Black or African American and Hispanic citizens making up 24.4% and 17.9% of the population, respectively.

With all Oakland has to offer, it’s unfortunate nearly half its households are financially insecure — about one-third of incomes going toward housing costs. Most renters pay around $2,772 for a 780-square-foot apartment. 

3. Charleston, South Carolina

Balmy summers, delicious comfort foods and unique candy-colored architecture along cobblestone streets draw many 20-somethings to Charleston, South Carolina. 

While Charleston became a famous port city after its establishment in 1670, the first of its colorful structures were built in the early 1700. The style remains distinguishable from other southern towns and followed more of a Federal, Greek revival or Victorian design. Today, about 2,700 of the 4,500 original Charleston-style homes remain standing.

The 2022 average rent ranges between $1,353 and $1,738 for a Charleston apartment. Of course, this depends on the neighborhood, size and number of bedrooms a unit has.

4. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is well-known as the “birthplace of rock and roll.” It was, after all, where Elvis Presley lived at his Graceland home. Memphis is also where Sun Studios recorded Ike Turner and the Delta Cats’ song “Rocket 88” in 1951, in which a broken amp created the rock-infused guitar sound we’re most familiar with in today’s music.

Memphis’s population is about 628,127 people, with 61.8% of residents between 18 and 65 years old. While Memphis is one the most populated cities in Tennessee it maintains a small-town vibe. This atmosphere attracts young families looking to make roots and musicians eager to jumpstart their careers.

That is if they can afford the rent. In the past year, apartment rentals in Memphis increased 22% and are now about $1,400 — making Memphis the 12th most expensive city in the U.S.

5. Hartford, Connecticut

As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Hartford, Connecticut, may have all the history young adults are looking for when relocating. According to the Hartford Preservation Alliance, 20% of the city’s buildings are federally or locally registered as historic places and protected under Hartford’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. 

Hartford isn’t just an old city, though — it’s also home to Mark Twain and the nation’s oldest art museum, public park and newspaper. The Connecticut Courant ran its first publication on October 29, 1764, as the third paper published in the colony. It still remains in business today as the Hartford Courant.

Dubbed the “Insurance Capital of the World” with nearly 100 insurance companies headquartered in the city, Hartford has plenty of employment opportunities for college graduates. This is good news, of course, since rents have increased 12% from $1,350 in January 2021 to the current rate of $1,512.

An Old City Starts a New Chapter

Your 20s are perfect for starting a new chapter in a historic city. With your whole life ahead of you, moving to one of the most historical cities in the U.S. provides new perspectives and essential lessons from the past you can take with you forever.

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