10 Oldest Cities In Ohio

We scoured the internet to determine the towns and cities in Ohio that have been around the longest.

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You might think your town is old, but it probably isn’t the oldest in the country.

That is unless you live in St. Augustine, FL. Which looks pretty good for being 454 years old.

That’s older than America for those playing at home.

So that got us thinking, what is the oldest city in Ohio? And how old is that when you put it into perspective of St. Augustine or American Independence in 1776?

Because even if your Ohio city or town is old, it isn’t really all that old in the grand scheme of things. For example, the Pyramids in Egypt were built around 2600 BC, a cool 4100 years before St. Augustine.

And now that we have you thinking about how the time line of your existence is really kind of unimpressive on the timeline of history, let’s drop right into the analysis.

These are the 10 oldest cities and towns in the Buckeye State according to their ‘date of foundation’:

  1. Cleveland (Photos)
  2. Cincinnati (Photos)
  3. Kent (Photos)
  4. Mansfield (Photos)
  5. Columbus (Photos)
  6. Nelsonville (Photos)
  7. Canton (Photos)
  8. Lorain (Photos)
  9. Elyria (Photos)
  10. Medina (Photos)

For being 222 years old, Cleveland doesn’t look a day over 40. And the newest city in Ohio? That would be Riverside — a brand spanking 23 years old.

Read on for a look at the oldest places in Ohio or feel free to check out the best places to live in Ohio or the safest.

How We Determined When A City Was Founded In Ohio… Or Is It Settled?

Surprisingly, there’s not a definitive data set that contains the dates of incorporation or settlement for cities in America. Put differently, there’s no official data set from the Census that contains when every place in America was founded.

So what did we do instead?

Use the internet’s version of official government data — Wikipedia of course!

For the majority of cities in Ohio, Wikipedia offers data on some kind of ‘date of foundation’ in the infobox. Unfortunately, because it’s Wikipedia and not a sprawling government bureaucracy, that can take the form of any of the following nomenclature (plus others):

  • Founded
  • Settled
  • Incorporated
  • Approved
  • Chartered

And then even more stuff — for example Atlanta has a ‘Terminus’ date, whatever that is.

If no ‘date of foundation’ was found in the infobox, we looked to the general text in the History section of the city for ‘Founded in XXXX’.

All in all, we were able to collect data on 237 out of 289 in Ohio with over 5,000 people. That’s good for a 82.0% completion rate.

We then ranked them from oldest to newest with Cleveland turning out to be the matriarch of Ohio at the ripe old age of 222.

Here’s a look at the top ten and a snippet of their history from Wikipedia.

1. Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio

Population: 388,812
Founded: 1796
Age: 222
Cleveland was named on July 22, 1796, when surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company laid out Connecticut’s Western Reserve into townships and a capital city. They named it ‘Cleaveland’ after their leader, General Moses Cleaveland. Cleaveland oversaw design of the plan for what would become the modern downtown area, centered on Public Square, before returning home, never again to visit Ohio. The first settler in Cleaveland was Lorenzo Carter, who built a cabin on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. The Village of Cleaveland was incorporated on December 23, 1814. In spite of the nearby swampy lowlands and harsh winters, its waterfront location proved to be an advantage, giving access to Great Lakes trade.

The area began rapid growth after the 1832 completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal. This key link between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes connected the city to the Atlantic Ocean via the Erie Canal and Hudson River, and later via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Its products could reach markets on the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Growth continued with added railroad links. Cleveland incorporated as a city in 1836.

2. Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio

Population: 298,957
Founded: 1802
Age: 216
Cincinnati began in 1788 when Mathias Denman, Colonel Robert Patterson and Israel Ludlow landed at the spot on the north bank of the Ohio River opposite the mouth of the Licking River and decided to settle there. The original surveyor, John Filson, named it ‘Losantiville’. In 1790, Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, changed the name of the settlement to ‘Cincinnati’ in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, made up of Revolutionary War veterans, of which he was a member. Which is named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a dictator of the early Roman Republic who saved Rome from crisis and then retired to his farm because he didn’t want to rule.

The introduction of steamboats on the Ohio River in 1811 opened up its trade to more rapid shipping, and the city established commercial ties with St. Louis, Missouri and especially New Orleans downriver. Cincinnati was incorporated as a city in 1819. Exporting pork products and hay, it became a center of pork processing in the region. From 1810 to 1830 its population nearly tripled, from 9,642 to 24,831. Completion of the Miami and Erie Canal in 1827 to Middletown, Ohio further stimulated businesses, and employers struggled to hire enough people to fill positions. The city had a labor shortage until large waves of immigration by Irish and Germans in the late 1840s. The city grew rapidly over the next two decades, reaching 115,000 persons by 1850.

3. Kent

Kent, Ohio

Population: 29,771
Founded: 1805
Age: 213
The region was originally inhabited by various tribes of American Indians, including the early Mound Builders. Around 1780, Captain Samuel Brady achieved notoriety for his activities in the area, including his famous leap of 21 feet (6 m) over the Cuyahoga River to avoid capture by an unknown band of American Indians. The site, known as Brady’s Leap, is now a city park. Settlement by Europeans began in the late 1790s and early 19th century. As part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, the area was divided into survey townships in 1798 and almost all of what is now Kent was originally part of Town 3 Range 9, which would eventually be known as Franklin Township. Aaron Olmsted, a wealthy Connecticut merchant, had purchased the 16,000-acre (6,500 ha) township and named it for his son Aaron Franklin Olmsted.

4. Mansfield

Mansfield, Ohio

Population: 46,720
Founded: 1808
Age: 210
Mansfield was laid out and founded by James Hedges, Joseph Larwell, and Jacob Newman, and was platted in June 1808 as a settlement. It was named for Colonel Jared Mansfield, the United States Surveyor General who directed its planning. Originally platted as a square, known today as the public square or Central Park. During that same year of its founding, a log cabin was built by Samuel Martin on lot 97 (where the H.L. Reed building is now), making it the first and only house to be built in Mansfield in 1808. Martin lived in the cabin during the winter and illegally sold whiskey to Indians, which compelled Martin to flee the country. James Cunningham moved into the cabin in the year of 1809. At that time, there were less than a dozen settlers in Richland County and Ohio was still largely wilderness. Two blockhouses were erected on the public square during the War of 1812 for protection against the North American colonies and its Indian allies. The block houses were erected in a single night. After the war ended, the first courthouse and jail of Richland County were located in one of two blockhouses until 1816. The blockhouse was later used as a school with Eliza Wolf being its teacher.

5. Columbus

Columbus, Ohio

Population: 852,144
Founded: 1812
Age: 206
The area including modern-day Columbus once comprised the Ohio Country, under the nominal control of the French colonial empire through the Viceroyalty of New France from 1663 until 1763. In the 18th century, European traders flocked to the area, attracted by the fur trade.

The area found itself frequently caught between warring factions, including American Indian and European interests. In the 1740s, Pennsylvania traders overran the territory until the French forcibly evicted them. In the early 1750s, the Ohio Company sent George Washington to the Ohio Country to survey. Fighting for control of the territory in the French and Indian War (1754-1763) became part of the international Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). During this period, the region routinely suffered turmoil, massacres, and battles. The 1763 Treaty of Paris ceded the Ohio Country to the British Empire.

6. Nelsonville

Nelsonville, Ohio

Population: 5,005
Founded: 1814
Age: 204

7. Canton

Canton, Ohio

Population: 71,763
Founded: 1815
Age: 203
Canton was founded in 1805, incorporated as a village in 1822, and re-incorporated as a city in 1838.

Bezaleel Wells, the surveyor who divided the land of the town, named it after Canton (a traditional name for Guangdong), China. The name was a memorial to a trader named John O’Donnell, whom Wells admired. O’Donnell had named his Maryland plantation after the Chinese city, as he had been the first person to transport goods from there to Baltimore.

8. Lorain

Lorain, Ohio

Population: 63,731
Founded: 1817
Age: 201
Ford Motor Company had the Lorain Assembly Plant in the city, mostly known for assembling the Ford Econoline (E-series) van, Ford Torino and Mercury Montego, and beginning in 1975 the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar (through 1997); the plant ceased all production on December 14, 2005 because the UAW and Ford management were unable to come to terms on a new contract. The sprawling United States Steel Mill stretches for nearly 3 miles (4.8 km) on the city’s south side. These mills had operated in the city since 1895 and employed thousands of local residents. Though the blast furnaces were idled in late 2008, Republic Steel announced in December 2011 that they would be building electric arc furnaces to once again make steel in Lorain. However, Republic Steel closed its doors for good in July 2016.

9. Elyria

Elyria, Ohio

Population: 53,944
Founded: 1817
Age: 201
The village of Elyria was officially founded in 1817 by Heman Ely, who built a log house, dam, gristmill and sawmill on the village’s site along the Black River. Ely began to build more houses to accommodate European-American settlers migrating to what was, at that time, within Huron County, Ohio. By the time Ely died in 1852, Elyria had five churches, three grocery stores, three flour mills, a newspaper, and a population of more than 1,500. Early postal service from Cleveland was provided by Artemis Beebe, a rider who held the first contract to deliver mail across this section of the Black River.

10. Medina

Medina, Ohio

Population: 26,348
Founded: 1818
Age: 200
Medina was founded on November 30, 1818 as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve. It was originally named Mecca, but an unincorporated community in Ohio already had that name, so the name was changed. Both Mecca and Medina are cities in Saudi Arabia and particularly significant to Islam.

Oh How Time Flies For The Oldest Towns And Cities In Ohio

So there you have it, a look at some of the oldest places to live in Ohio. If we missed your city’s ‘date of foundation’, let us know in the comments. Or feel free to take a look at the table of the oldest places in Ohio.

And now, let’s raise our glasses, to the next 100 years of existence for these cities and towns in the Buckeye State.

And for those wondering, here are the newest additions to Ohio:

  1. Riverside (Founded in 1995)
  2. Munroe Falls (Founded in 1995)
  3. Beachwood (Founded in 1995)
  • 10 Worst Places To Live In Ohio
  • 10 Safest Places In Ohio
  • These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In Ohio
  • Detailed List Of The Oldest Cities In Ohio

    City Rank Age Year Founded
    Cleveland 1 222 1796
    Cincinnati 2 216 1802
    Kent 3 213 1805
    Mansfield 4 210 1808
    Columbus 5 206 1812
    Nelsonville 6 204 1814
    Canton 7 203 1815
    Lorain 8 201 1817
    Elyria 9 201 1817
    Medina 10 200 1818
    Springfield 11 191 1827
    New Philadelphia 12 185 1833
    Conneaut 13 184 1834
    Akron 14 182 1836
    Englewood 15 177 1841
    Youngstown 16 170 1848
    Wapakoneta 17 169 1849
    Shelby 18 165 1853
    Geneva 19 152 1866
    Wadsworth 20 142 1876
    Loveland 21 142 1876
    Euclid 22 115 1903
    Cleveland Heights 23 115 1903
    Trenton 24 114 1904
    Wilmington 25 114 1904
    Salem 26 114 1904
    Blue Ash 27 114 1904
    Bedford 28 114 1904
    Amherst 29 114 1904
    Norton 30 114 1904
    Franklin 31 114 1904
    Urbana 32 114 1904
    Ravenna 33 114 1904
    Powell 34 114 1904
    Dover 35 114 1904
    Circleville 36 114 1904
    Clayton 37 114 1904
    Tiffin 38 114 1904
    Tallmadge 39 114 1904
    Norwalk 40 114 1904
    Mount Vernon 41 114 1904
    Defiance 42 114 1904
    Streetsboro 43 114 1904
    Bay Village 44 114 1904
    Greenville 45 114 1904
    New Franklin 46 114 1904
    Bridgetown 47 114 1904
    Washington Court House 48 114 1904
    Sharonville 49 114 1904
    Mount Carmel 50 114 1904
    Monroe 51 114 1904
    Brecksville 52 114 1904
    Bellefontaine 53 114 1904
    Worthington 54 114 1904
    Coshocton 55 114 1904
    London 56 114 1904
    Van Wert 57 114 1904
    Columbiana 58 114 1904
    Belpre 59 114 1904
    Jackson 60 114 1904
    Clyde 61 114 1904
    Pepper Pike 62 114 1904
    Mount Healthy 63 114 1904
    Wheelersburg 64 114 1904
    Granville 65 114 1904
    New Carlisle 66 114 1904
    Germantown 67 114 1904
    Waterville 68 114 1904
    Lexington 69 114 1904
    Canal Fulton 70 114 1904
    Chardon 71 114 1904
    St. Clairsville 72 114 1904
    Rittman 73 114 1904
    Union 74 114 1904
    Hillsboro 75 114 1904
    Kirtland 76 114 1904
    Harrison 77 114 1904
    Struthers 78 114 1904
    Montgomery 79 114 1904
    Reading 80 114 1904
    Springboro 81 114 1904
    Girard 82 114 1904
    Willoughby Hills 83 114 1904
    East Liverpool 84 114 1904
    North College Hill 85 114 1904
    Wyoming 86 114 1904
    Cheviot 87 114 1904
    Eaton 88 114 1904
    St. Marys 89 114 1904
    Logan 90 114 1904
    Bellbrook 91 114 1904
    Martins Ferry 92 114 1904
    Olmsted Falls 93 114 1904
    Steubenville 94 114 1904
    Lyndhurst 95 114 1904
    Centerville 96 114 1904
    Lebanon 97 114 1904
    Piqua 98 114 1904
    Dublin 99 114 1904
    Cuyahoga Falls 100 114 1904

    About Chris Kolmar

    Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

    He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

    If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

    You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.