Loiza

Loaiza

Loiza, Puerto Rico

Loíza is located on the northeast coast of Puerto Rico and measures 50.3 square kilometers (19.4 square miles). It is known as the “The Capital of Tradition,” “The santeros” and “The coconut producers.” According to the 2000 census, there were 32,537 loiceños. The town includes the wards of Canóvanas, Loíza Aldea, Medianía Alta, Medianía Baja, Torrecilla Alta, and Torrecilla Baja. The patron saint is Saint Patrick, but the festivities in honor of the patron saint are dedicated to Saint James the Apostle. The festival is one of its principal attractions, especially because of the colorfully dressed vejigantes. Loíza is one of the few places in Puerto Rico where our African heritage is vividly represented. In Loíza the heritage of music and dance is kept alive in the bomba and plena, notably by the Hermanos Ayala and the Mayombe Group.

The town of Loíza has many points of interest along its coast, including La Torrecilla and Piñones lagoons. The Piñones State Forest, a unique ecosystem whose rich variety of fauna and flora live on more than 3,500 cuerdas of mangroves, is located in Loiza. There are many bird species, 46 of which are endangered species.

The principal sources of income are fishing and tourism, although employment is concentrated in manufacturing, retail sales, and the hotel industry. The municipality has had paper, electronics, and leather factories. Agriculture is based on truck farming and coconuts. In 2002, revenues from agriculture came to $746,137, which reflects the low level of this economic sector. In 2006 Loíza had 10 schools, a primary medical care center, mail and telephone service, and primary and secondary highways.

Geography

Loíza is located on the northern coastal plain and is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the municipality of Canóvanas, on the east by Río Grande and on the west by the town of Carolina. The low-lying territory is no higher than 100 meters (328 feet) above sea level. The Piñones State Forest, 60 percent of which consists of red mangrove, along with some black and white mangrove, runs along the coast of Loíza. There are several bird species in the forest. The Piñones lagoon, the habitat for approximately 38 varieties of fish, constitutes 30 percent of the forest’s territory.

There also mangroves in the Piñones-Torrecilla-Vacía Talega area and on the banks of the Herrera Rivera River. Points Maldonado, Vacía Talega, Iglesia, and Uvero and the large and well-lit cave known as the Indian or María de la Cruz Cave (Loíza Aldea) are also located along the coast. Archeological research is being done in the cave to study the indigenous past of the region.

The hydrographic system is comprised of the Río Grande de Loíza and Herrera rivers. The Río Grande de Loíza deserves special mention, having been the inspiration for renowned poets such as Julia de Burgos and Evaristo Ribera Chevremont. The river originates in Espino (San Lorenzo) ward and runs into the sea at Loíza Aldea. At approximately 65 kilometers (40 miles) long, it is the third longest river on the island, but the largest in terms of volume. There is a dam on part of the river, forming the Carraizo reservoir, which is the source of most of the drinking water in the metropolitan area.

Loíza has a long historic tradition. The earliest Spanish settlers that explored the area found that the Cayrabon river head was already settled. Eventually, the Spaniards who settled there used the river for gold mining. Since the ore soon ran out, economic activity quickly turned to sugar cane. This new industry propitiated the construction of several sugar mills in the late 16th century. This economic growth ledGovernor Gaspar de Arredondo to petition the king to found a town in 1690, although it was not until 1719 that the Spanish government granted the request.

Some historians have argued that the name Loíza is derived from the name of an indigenous chieftain named Yuisa, a woman baptized with the Christian name Luisa. Others consider that the name is associated with Iñigo López de Cervantes and Loayza, an inspector of the Spanish Court in Hispaniola, who had vast holdings in the area. By 1878, Loíza included the wards of Canóvanas, Cubuy, Hato Puerco, Loíza Pueblo, Lomas, Medianía Alta, Medianía Baja, and Torrecilla.

In 1902, Loíza was included in the municipality of Río Grande, under legislation passed by the insular legislature to consolidate some of the island’s municipalities. Three years later, the law was repealed, and Loíza once again became a municipality. In 1909, the municipal council of Loíza adopted an ordinance to move the town seat and city hall to the Canóvanas ward. Economic development thereby benefited by the proximity to Route 3, the main route between the capital and the eastern part of the island. Loíza Aldeabecame a ward. Nevertheless, the residents of the former town seat did not accept the move. Thus, on June 30, 1969, the Puerto Rico legislature enacted Public Law No. 139 to hold a special referendum and divide the region into two municipalities. In 1970, the township of Canóvanas came into being and Loíza Aldea once again became the seat of the municipality of Loíza.

Symbols

Flag
The flag  of Loíza is a rectangle divided into three undulating bands: red, gold, and green. There is a silhouette of a belfry on the left band. The undulating bands symbolize the coastal topography of Loíza and the Río Grande de Loíza, the largest river in Puerto Rico in terms of volume. The red and gold bands symbolize Spanish heritage, and the green band symbolizes the tradition of Saint Patrick. The silhouette of the belfry represents Saint Patrick’s Church, a historic landmark, and the religious traditions of this town.

Coat of Arms
The Loíza coat of arms  is divided into thirds. The main third is comprised of the equestrian figure of Saint James the Apostle, a reflection of the deep-seated devotion the townspeople have for the saint. The devotion is manifested in a very special way on July 25, during the traditional festival. Just below the saint, there is an undulating band representing the Río Grande de Loíza, an important presence in Puerto Rican geography, history, and literature. The third part shows a crown alluding to the famous taino cacica, Yuisa, who lived and died in this area. The center is surrounded by flames alternating with clover. The flames represent the Holy Spirit and the seven gifts, since the Holy Spirit was the patron of the old Loíza church. The cloverleaf or shamrock is one of the attributes of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland and patron saint of the town.

Place of Interest

• Piñones State Forest
• Ayala Family Craft Center
• Piñones Development Center
• Piñones Cultural Center
• María de la Cruz Cave
• Church of Saint Patrick
• Julia de Burgos Walkway
• Aviones Beach
• Vacía Talega Beach

Illustrious Citizens

Castor Ayala – Master craftsman, father of the Ayala brothers who are craftsmen and promoters of Puerto Rican traditional dancing.

Iván Calderón – Major league baseball player.

William Cepeda – Musician

Miguel A. del Valle Escobar – House representative for District 39 (1965-72) and for District 36 (1973-1976).

Samuel Lind – Renowned painter.

Francisco E. Mundo Arzuaga – Mayor (1933-1936), House representative for District 35 (1937-1940 and professor.

Juan Rosado Fuentes, Mateo Pérez Sanjurjo, Pedro Falú, and Antonio Falú – Leaders of the Socialist Party in the 1930s.

Gabriel Santos López – Educator and first mayor, when the town once again became a municipality in 1973.

Ramón Suárez – Founder of Mimiya Hospital in Santurce.

Miguel Villarán – Major league baseball player.

Events

Mayombe Carnival – February
Patron Saint – Saint Patrick – March
Festival of Saint James the Apostle – July

 

Text taken from enciclopediapr.org

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