When the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, it acquired New Orleans as a full-fledged city. Unlike much of the territory, which consisted of rural regions and small towns and settlements, New Orleans had developed into a major metropolis, strongly influenced by the French colonization and Creole inhabitants. New Orleans was a busy trade city, through which a great deal of the continent's trade passed, until the development of the canals and railroads. In 1788, much of the city had burned down, destroying the old wooden French-style buildings. The city was rebuilt, largely out of brick and plaster, and managed to retain its French ambiance.