Mayagüez

Mayaguez

 Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

This municipality is located on the west coast of Puerto Rico and measures 78 square miles (201.1 square kilometers). The city is known as “the city of pure waters,” “the birthplace of Eugenio María de Hostos,” the “jelly roll city,” “the city of the Indios (a baseball team), and “the mango town.” It has also been called the “the Sultaness of the West,” because, according to legend, there was an extraordinarily beautiful woman of Arab features with whom everyone fell in love. It is the fifth largest municipality in terms of area, and contains the following wards: Algarrobos, Bateyes, Guanajibo, Mona Island and Monito Islet, Juan Alonso, Leguísamo, Limón, Malezas, Mayagüez Pueblo, Mayagüez Arriba, Miradero, Montoso, Naranjales, Quebrada Grande, Quemado, Río Cañas Abajo, Río Cañas Arriba, Río Hondo, Rosario, Sábalos, and Sabanetas. According to the 2000 census, there are 98,434 mayagüezanos. The patron of the city is Our Lady of Candlemas.

Mayagüez is home to the Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (formerly the College ofAgriculture and Mechanical Arts) and the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo. The city is part of the development plan known as “Porta del Sol,” which is directed at showcasing the natural resources, the gastronomy, the arts, and general culture of the western region. Mayagüez is also preparing for the Central American and Caribbean Games which are to be held there in 2010. Economic development has included registered trademarks that have been hallmarks for the city: Franco jelly roll, Cedó flan, and Fido sangría. The port area is undergoing constant development.

Geography

Mayagüez is located on the west coast of Puerto Rico. It is bordered on the north by Añasco and Las Marías; Cabo Rojo, Hormigueros and San Germán on the south; Maricao and Las Marías on the east and the Mona Channel on the west. The city is located in the western coastal valley region. The land is largely flat and fertile, thanks to the abundant rain, which falls mainly between May and November. Most of the higher elevations are to the northeast and east where the Urayoán ridge is located, but there are some notable elevations to the south, such as Los Matos Ridge (Río Hondo and Malezas wards) or the Las Mesas ridge (Quebrada Grande, Juan Alonso, and Rosario wards). The highest elevations are San Bernardo peak (1,594 feet), Las Mesas (1,247 feet), and Mount Leclerc (1,129 feet).

The hydrographic system is comprised of three main rivers: the Grande de Añasco, the Guanajibo and the Yagüez. The first of these serves as a border with Las Marías and Añasco, and empties into the Mona Channel, and the Cañas River and the Casanova and Cojilla brooks are its tributaries. The Guanajibo River marks the border with Cabo Rojo, and its tributaries, the Rosario and Hondo rivers, also run through that municipality. The Yagüez Rivers originates in Montoso ward and runs 13 miles down to the Mayagüez bay. Its tributaries are the Caricosa and Gandel brooks. Other brooks and channels in the municipality are Oro, Sábalos, Pulida, Guifén, and Grande brooks, and Corazones, Merle, Maní, Majagual, and Boquilla channels.

Grande and Maní beaches, Point Algarrobos, the Malecón (seaside promenade), Point Boca Negra and the Mayagüez bay are located at various points from north to south on the town coast. There are about 100 hectares (about 248 acres) of mangroves at the mouths of the Corazones and Boquilla channels.

Out at sea, the islands of Mona, Monito and Desecheo are also considered to be part of this municipality. Mona is the largest island, measuring about 55 square kilometers (21 square miles). The highest point on the island measures 80 meters (262 feet). Capes Norte, Noroeste, and Barrio Nuevo are located on the northern end of the island; Los Ingleses and Caigo o no Caigo points and the Uvero dock are located on the south; Point Este and Pájaros beach are located on the east, and towards the west there is Point Oeste and the Sardinera and Isabella anchorages. It is believed that the name of Mona Island is derived from its old indigenous name, Amona. Monito is a small islet located to the west of Mona.

According to historical research, the name of this municipality is derived from the Taino word yagüez, meaning “clear and pure waters.” The area was part of the dominions of Cacique Urayoán. The region was settled during the Spanish colonization, and eventually the town became known as Our Lady of Candlemas. Later, the name was changed to Mayagoex or Mayagüex, finally evolving into Mayagüez. The town retains the nickname of the “city of waters,” alluding to the Yagüez River.

The town was founded in July 29, 1760, when Faustino Martínez Matos requested permission to establish a town on the banks of the Yagüez River. Martínez identified the place as “Our Lady of Candlemas.” Ten years later, there were 1,800 residents in the town. The economy was largely based on agriculture. The town grew at two different points simultaneously: the highlands and the beach. The port was very important for export activity in the area, especially for the neighboring towns of San Germán, Cabo Rojo, and Añasco. In 1836, Mayagüez was bestowed the title of villa, which allowed it to have a cabildo or municipal corporation and bear four towers on its coat of arms.

By the mid-19th century, economic development was quite evident, as the town had important institutional buildings such as the customs house, the council house, the infantry barracks, the public jail, and the military hospital. During the 1870s there was a telegraph service between Mayagüez and San Juan, and a kind of horse-drawn trolley running along Méndez Vigo Street, which connected the town center with the beach. The tracks were picket tracks, made of evenly- spaced wrought iron cylinders without ties. The tram system had a lot of problems and was discontinued in 1877, although it was reactivated in 1893 under the Sociedad Anónima Tranvía de Mayagüez. The route that connected the town with the beach was maintained, and other routes were added, particularly one that reached the market square. In 1897, the track was extended to Guanajibo ward. A third system, the Mayagüez Tramway Company, was established in 1913. The cars were electric and had a larger passenger capacity. Finally, the urban tram ceased operations in 1926.

A symbol of the progress of the municipality was the coat of arms granted by the Queen Regent María Christina of Habsburg-Lothringen, on behalf of her son Alfonso XIII, the King of Spain, on December 19, 1894. The coat of arms was allowed to be crowned with a four-turreted castle as a symbol of the municipality’s status as a city. In the early 20th century, Mayagüez included the following wards: Guanajibo, Juan Alonso, Leguísamo, Limón, Malezas, Mayagüez Pueblo, Miradero, Montoso, Naranjales, Playa Grande, Quebrada Grande, Quemado, Río Cañas Abajo, Río Cañas Arriba, Río Hondo, Rosario, Sábalos, and Sabanetas.

Economic life has been very important in the history of Mayagüez. During the 19th century the economy was based on sugarcane, coffee, cacao, tobacco, cotton, rice, and corn. This agricultural prosperity included a large sugarcane mill, 145 coffee plantations, and 371 produce farms. This production stimulated commerce at the port, especially with agricultural products being exported by 28 export firms such as Schulze & Co., Frize Lund & Co., Bravo & Co., Moral, González & Co., Plaja Hermanos, and Francisco Blanes. There were also several food and lumber stores as well as carriage makers, chocolate producers, brick makers, and tanners. There were shirt-makers cobblers, and seven pharmacies. As part of agricultural development, the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts of the University of Puerto Rico was created in 1910. The institution opened its doors on September 23, 1911.

These lines of production were sustained until the late 1940s, when the economy of Mayagüez began to be based on manufacturing. In the 1960s, the tuna processing industry was the industrial mainstay. The first company was Star Kist Caribe, followed by Del Monte de Puerto Rico and Neptune (also known as Ibel Packing). About 100 other plants opened, dedicated to manufacturing footwear, clothing, surgical instruments, flags, umbrellas, soft drinks, gloves, medicines, and chemical products, among others.

Mayagüez is also known for the 1918 earthquake, the most severe that has been experienced in Puerto Rico. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale and was accompanied by a tsunami that reached a height of six meters (20 feet). The western part of the island suffered the most damage.

Symbols

Flag

The Mayagüez flag  is divided into two parts. On the left there is a green field with a red cross at the center. The cross has the shape of the cross borne on the sails of Columbus` ships and is bordered with a white line symbolizing those sails. The cross represents Christianity, which was brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus, who signed his documents with the phrase “The one who brings Christ.” The cross is surrounded by four red flames, also with white borders, alluding to the traditional Candlemas bonfires. The green field represents the color of the upper part of Columbus coat of arms, known in heraldry as the chief point dexter. From the spectator’s point of view the right side bears white and blue wavy stripes, also an allusion to the coat of arms granted by the Catholic monarch to Columbus. These waves also represent the ocean and the Mona Channel that the admiral crossed to carry the message of the Gospel as well as the Yagüez River and the city’s nickname, “the city of pure waters.”

Coat of arms

The coat of arms[Coat of arms] of the town commemorates the discovery of the island of Puerto Rico, called Borinquen by its indigenous people, during Christopher Columbus second voyage to the New World in 1493. According to some sources, the admiral landed on the west coast, at the mouths of several rivers, including the Yagüez River, from which the name of Mayagüez is derived. The coat of arms is divided into two parts, known as cantons in heraldry. The upper canton is comprised of Christopher Columbus` personal coat of arms. The lower part shows the scene of the discovery of the island and the Mayagüez bay, and the Yagüez River mouth is represented at the center. The coat of arms was bestowed on the city of Mayagüez by Her Majesty the Queen Regent Maria Christina of Habsburg under Royal Decree Number 690 on December 19,1894.

Places of interest

• Customs house
• Old Spanish social club (Casino)
• Eudaldo Báez García Boulevard
• Mayagüez Cultural Center – Includes the public library, a theater and the Tourism Office
• Our Lady of Candlemas Cathedral
• India Brewery
• Agricultural Experiment Station
• Mona Island and Monito Islet
• The Malecón (seaside promenade)
• Monument to Eugenio Maria de Hostos
• Casa Grande Historical Museum
• Eugenio María de Hostos Museum
• Mayagüez Recreation and Sports Complex
• Franco Bakery
• Puerto Rican Patriots Park
• Rosa M. Carrero Children’s Park of the Millennium
• Promenade
• Planetarium
• Columbus Square
• Yagüez Theater
• Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico
• Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo

Illustrious citizens

Federico Asenjo Arteaga – Journalist and writer of historical and costumbrista narratives.

Alejandrina Benítez y de Arce de Gautier – Poet and mother of the poet José Gautier Benítez.

Pedro Gerónimo Goyco – Physician, educator and political figure. Gerónimo Goyco worked for reform in the Antilles and the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico while presiding the Partido Liberal Reformista (Liberal Reform Party).

Eugenio María de Hostos – Known as “the citizen of the Americas,” a title bestowed on him in 1938 by the Organization of American States at its VIII conference.

Simón Madera – Musician and composer. Madera played the violin, the clarinet and was a conductor and bandleader. He composed many pieces in many genres, including the famous danza Mis amores.

Rafael Martínez Nadal – Public speaker, writer, and leader of the pro-statehood movement. Martínez was a founder of the Partido Unión Republicana (Republican Union Party), a senator (1921 – 1941) and president of the Puerto Rico Senate (1933 – 1941). He also wrote literary criticism, novels, and stories.

José María Monge – Journalist and poet. Monge wrote in the costumbrista style.

Salvador Perea – Historian, author of Historia de Puerto Rico: 1537-1700.

Juan Ríus Rivera – General in the Cuban liberation army. He fought in Cuba in the 1868 and 1895 wars; a hero of the latter war, he was a delegate to the constitutional assembly of Cuba.

Ernesto Ramos Antonini – Legislator and leader of the Popular Democratic Party. Ramos was a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives (1933 and 1941 – 1963) and president of the House (1945 – 1963). Ramos contributed to the economic development initiative known as Operation Bootstrap and the founding of the Free School of Music and the Conservatory of Puerto Rico.

Josefina Rivera de Alvarez – Educator, essayist, and author of the Diccionario de la literatura puertorriqueña.

Roberto Sánchez Vilella – Secretary of the Constitutional Assembly (1951 – 1952) and Governor of Puerto Rico from 1965 to 1969.

Salvador Tió – Journalist, essayist and member of the Academia Puertorriqueña de la Lengua Española.

Events
• Three Kings Day Festival – January
• Patron Saint’s Festival – January/February
• Romance on the Boulevard – February
• Bomba and plena festival – February/March
• Mothers’ day concert – May
• Fathers’ day concert – June
• Mayagüez Carnival – May
• Danza Festival – May
• Celebration of the founding of Mayagüez – September
• Crafts fair – November
• Christmas festivities – December
• Anniversary of the Puerto Rican flag – December
• Band concert at the Patriots’ Park – second Sunday of the month
• Pedestrian Mayagüez at Columbus Square – third Sunday of the month

 

Text taken from enciclopediapr.org

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