What led to the building of permanent settlements?
Religious persecution in the north, more secure trading routes in the south.
The colonies in North America can be divided into three categories:
The Northern Colonies were mostly settled by religious outcasts from England. The Puritans were the first to settle, after fleeing from persecution at home. They landed in Massachusetts and began to build towns with the help of Native Americans in the area (notably Samoset and Squanto). Eventually they spread out to cover most of New England.
The southern colonies were some of the first settled. Jamestown, in Virginia, was settled by a group of workers from England who were meant to find anything profitable they could send back from their new colony. The ability to trade easily with Europe allowed for this. Originally, they relied on sending lumber and furs, and struggled. Eventually, tobacco was discovered to be a very valuable crop, and took over most of Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.
Places like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were settled later, after colonies in the north and south had been established. Here, settlements developed into trading centers (like Manhattan) and towns modeled after European towns, focusing on wheat, cattle, and swine.