Abstract: Using newly collected subnational data, this article establishes the within-country persistence of economic activity in the New World over the last half millennium, a period including the trauma of European colonisation, the drastic reduction of native populations and the imposition of potentially growth inhibiting institutions. High pre-colonial density areas tend to be denser today due to locational fundamentals and agglomeration effects: colonialists established settlements near existing native populations for reasons of labour, trade, knowledge and defence. These areas, identified with pre-colonial prosperity, also tend to have higher incomes today suggesting that at the subnational level, fortune persists.