While it's true that the U.S. can't compare to countries like Greece and China when it comes to ancient history, that doesn't mean that we don't have any. Yes, America as a nation may only be a few hundred years old as opposed to a few thousand, but that's still a few hundred years worth of history.
If you're looking for history a little closer to home, here are three great U.S. cities to consider visiting.
Founded in 1630 (just over 20 years after the very first permanent settlement in the New World), Boston has been an important city almost since the very beginning. It was here that the infamous Boston Tea Party took place in 1773, and where the American Revolution erupted a few years later. Today, popular historic sites in the city include:
The Freedom Trail – By following a red line that zigs and zags through downtown Boston, you can visit 16 sites linked to Boston's history. Beginning in Boston Common and ending at the Bunker Hill Monument, sites along the Freedom Trail include the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere's house, the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, historic cemeteries, the U.S.S. Constitution and more. You can walk the trail on your own or go on a tour led by a costumed guide (well worth it).
Harvard University – Dating back to 1636, Harvard is regarded as one of the most prestigious private universities in the world – and it's also the oldest in the U.S. You can visit the campus in Cambridge and take a guided tour of the historic college.
Quincy Market – Adjacent to Faneuil Hall along the Freedom Trail, this historic market complex dates back to the early 1800s and is a great place to do a little shopping or to grab a bite to eat.
Founded by William Penn in 1682, Philadelphia has a unique place in America’s early history. It served as the site of the First and Second Continental Congresses after the Revolutionary War, as well as the capital of the newly-formed United States of America from 1790-1800. In the early 1880s, "Philly" was the one of U.S.'s busiest ports and also the largest city in the nation. Today, historic sites in the city to visit include:
Independence Hall – Independence Hall is the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park run by the National Park Service. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the fact that both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed in this building.
Liberty Bell – Considered a symbol of freedom, no visit to Philadelphia would be complete without visiting this big cracked bell.
Betsy Ross House – Said to be where the very first American flag was sewn.
Christ Church Burial Ground – Here you can visit the final resting place of Philly's most famous colonial resident - Benjamin Franklin.
The current capital city, Washington, D.C., naturally deserves a place on this list. Founded in 1790 and more or less shaped by George Washington and designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the city became America's official capital in 1800. It was then mostly burnt to the ground by the British during the War of 1812, but was beautifully rebuilt and many of the historic buildings remain. Be sure to visit:
The U.S. Capitol – It has been built, burnt, and rebuilt, but the giant dome of the U.S. Capitol remains a symbol of Washington, D.C. Built for the first time in 1793, the Capitol is the oldest federally occupied building in the city.
Ford's Theater – Built in 1833 for use as a church meetinghouse, Ford's Theater is most famous as the site of Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865. Today the theater is run in partnership with the National Park Service and while you can still catch theatrical performances from time to time, the building is now mostly dedicated as a Lincoln education center.
Smithsonian Museums – America’s Attic, the Smithsonian Institution includes 19 separate museums and sites ranging from the Air and Space Museum to the National Zoo. Eleven of them are conveniently located on the National Mall and all are always free to visit.
National Mall and Memorials – Washington D.C.'s National Mall consists of many memorials and monuments, dedicated to both former leaders and military conflicts. Some of my favorites include the Lincoln Memorial, the war memorials for the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
What are some other historical cities that should be on this list?
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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