With over 150 historic landmarks, including the magnificent Tryon Palace and the Birthplace of Pepsi, the Aerie is an ideal destination for those simply in search of fun or a glimpse into the rich history of New Bern, North Carolina.
New Bern was originally settled in 1710 by Swiss and German immigrants who named it after Bern, the capital of Switzerland. The town was officially founded by Swiss Baron Christoph DeGraffenried. The city emblem, as in old Bern, is a black bear going up a golden road which appears frequently throughout the city.
The second-oldest city in North Carolina, New Bern is the site of many firsts. It was in New Bern that the first state printing press was set up and the first book and newspaper were published. The state’s first public school opened here. The first official celebration of George Washington’s birthday was held in New Bern, and it was here that the world’s first practical torpedo was assembled and detonated. In the 1890s Caleb Bradham, a New Bern pharmacist, invented Brad’s Drink, now known as Pepsi-Cola.
Without question, New Bern’s centerpiece is Tryon Palace, the lavish Georgian brick mansion named after William Tryon, the British Colonial governor who had it built in 1770. After the Revolutionary War, the palace served as the home of the state capital until 1795.
New Bern has three historic districts with homes, stores, and churches dating back to the early 18th century. Historic markers point out the houses where the first elected assembly in the colonies met in defiance of the crown in 1774, where a signer of the U.S. Constitution lived, and where George Washington slept — twice. Markers also show you the office of jurist William Gaston, the first chief justice of the state Supreme Court and composer of the state song.