The first type of settlements were pueblos, towns. In what is now the southwestern United States, many Indian villages became the sites of Spanish towns. A pueblo usually had a center plaza surrounded by homes, a church, and perhaps some businesses. Farms lay outside the town. Pueblos served as trading posts and sometimes centers of local Indians.
Missions were settlements established by priests to convert local Indians to Catholicism. Priests and Indians would build a mission compound around a central church, with farmlands and homes typically lying on the outskirt. Missions in frontier areas often had fortifications. Presidios, or military bases, were another type of settlement. Most presidios were in remote frontier areas, particularly in Florida and Texas. Spanish also built presidios to protect existant towns and missions.
There were several large Spanish cities in the Americas. For example, in the early 1600s the mining center at Potosi in what is now Bolivia had a population of around 100,000.
Some cities quickly developed features similar to those of urban Spain. By the 1550s Mexico City had a university, a printing press, fine mansions, and wide streets laid in European fashion.