The principal difference between urban growth in Europe and in the North American colonies was the slow evolution of cities in the former and their rapid growth in the latter. In Europe they grew over a period of centuries from town economies to their present urban structure. In North America， they started as wilderness communities and developed to mature urbanism in little more than a century.
In the early colonial days in North America， small cities sprang up along theAtlantic Coastline，mostly in what are now New England and Middle Atlantic states in the United States and in the lower Saint Lawrence valley in Canada. This was natural because these areas were nearest to England and France， particularly England， from which most capital goods （assets such as equipment） and many consumer goods were imported. Merchandising establishments were，accordingly， advantageously located in port cities from which goods could be readily distributed to interior settlements. Here， too， were the favored locations for processing raw materials prior to export. Boston， Philadelphia， New York， Montreal， and other cities flourished， and， as the colonies grew， these cities increased in importance.
This was less true in the colonial South， where life centered around large farms， known as plantations， rather than around towns， as was the case in the areas further north along the Atlanti...