With a population of 39,192, New Caprica City is essentially a shanty town of makeshift buildings and tents with a small number of buildings built from planet-bound ships. Despite a groundbreaking ceremony for more permanent buildings conducted four months after the settlement of the planet, further growth is hampered by supply shortages and President Baltar's weak leadership.
The city's market place, commons area and athletic courts are located near the ships. Colonial One, the Astral Queen, an atmospheric shuttle and a Colonial Shuttle sit just outside of town. Former President Laura Roslin runs the city's elementary school ("Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II", "Unfinished Business").
The Cylon occupation (at day 380 after settlement) causes some changes on the face of the city. While the humans still live in a shanty town of tents and a makeshift marketplace, the Cylons have built some permanent structures. The largest of these is the New Caprica Detention Center, a concrete structure and walled compound which dominates the city's skyline. Laura Roslin and Saul Tigh are imprisoned for a time in subterranean cells in the prison's basement. Larger cells appear in blocks around the prison compound, which are barred by gates. One of these is converted into a furnished apartment occupied by Leoben Conoy and Kara Thrace.
There is also a power distribution station whose generators were destroyed in the second suicide bombing of the insurgency, wiping out power to half of the city. In addition to these structures, numerous watchtowers, manned by Centurions, have been constructed in points throughout the city. At night, search lights on these towers illuminate the streets and tents below.