The first European settlements in the Americas and the gridded form

In the last stretch of the fifteenth century, the experience of conquering and colonizing the Canary Islands, the repopulation of the southern territories of the Iberian Peninsula after the expulsion of the Nasrid Kingdom from Granada, and the founding of the City of Santa Fe de Granada all constituted relevant urban experiences that directly informed the first European settlements in the Antilles.16 In both cases, urban establishments in the Canary archipelago, such as San Cristobal de la Laguna (1500) and Santa Fe (1492), both of ordered urban form, demonstrate the preference for this urban solution, ratified by a theoretical corpus represented by works such as the Suma politica que fabla сото deven ser fundadas e edificadas cib- dades e villas (Political summa that speaks of how towns and cities should be founded), written in 1453 by Rodrigo Sanchez de Arevalo.17 It was texts like Sanchez de Arevalo’s that gave origin to the so-called Instmcciones (Instructions), a document containing explicit directions from the Spanish monarch on how to establish a city, including the process of choosing a site, dividing and assigning urban plots, as well as issuing land titles to colonizers that adelantados or Crown representatives, such as Pedro Arias Davila, brought with them when they established towns in the early colonization period of the New World, such as the City of Panama (1519). However, those early foundings in the Antilles, such as Santo Domingo, Panama, or Havana, did not possess such strict regular urban forms as did the administrative inland towns founded later in New Spain. It was cities such as Mexico City (1521), Puebla (1531), and Valladolid (1541) that truly embodied the urban ideals later compiled in the famed Ordenanzas de descubrimiento, nueva poblacion у pacificacidn de las Indias (Ordinances of discovery, new foundings, and pacification of the Indies), issued in July 1573 by the Spanish monarch, King Philip II. This document contained detailed information regarding all the steps necessary to carry out a new urban founding, from the expedition’s assembling to choosing a site, the repartimiento or distribution of lands, to the vecinos (citizens) of the town, to specifications regarding urban design.

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