- Mayagüez redirects here. For the US ship of the same name, see SS Mayagüez. ''For the 1975 US-Cambodia incident regarding the capture of the ship, see the Mayagüez incident.
Mayagüez (mah-yah-GWES) or (maɪaˈgwɛs) is the eighth-largest municipality of Puerto Rico. Also known as "La Sultana del Oeste" (The Sultaness of the West) or "Ciudad de las Aguas Puras" (City of Pure Waters), the Spanish crown gave it the title of "La excelente ciudad de Mayagüez", Mayagüez is located in the center of the western coast on the island of Puerto Rico.
Mayagüez was officially founded on September 18
,1760 by a group led by Faustino Martínez de Matos
, Juan de Silva
and Juan de Aponte
, at a hill located about one kilometer inland from Mayagüez Bay
and the outlet of the Yagüez River
. The Spanish Crown granted the founders the right to self-government in 1763, formally separating the town from the larger Partido de San Germán
. Originally the settlement was named Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Mayagüez
after the celebration of an apparition of the Virgin Mary on the island of Tenerife
, one of the Canary Islands(Our Lady of Candelaria of Mayagüez). This was due to most of the town's settlers, including it's founders, originally coming from the Canary Islands
, whose patron saint
is the Virgin of Candelaria
, hence the name.
On 7 May 1836, the settlement was elevated to the royal status of villa, and Rafael Mangual was named its first mayor. At the time, the villa's principal economic activity was agriculture. The famous patriot, educator, sociologist, philosopher, essayist, and novelist Eugenio María de Hostos was born in Mayagüez in 1839.
On 10 July 1877 the villa formally received its city charter from the Royal Crown of Spain.
The city's main Roman Catholic church, “Our Lady of the Candelaria” (plot consecrated on 21 August1760, first masonry building erected in 1780, current church originally built in 1836) was rebuilt in 1922. The original redesign by architect Luis Perocier sought to restore the building to its original splendor. Not only had the 1918 Puerto Rico Earthquake destroyed the temple's ceiling, but a lightning bolt also struck and tore down a wedge-shaped corner of one of its two bell towers. However, lack of proper funding and the extent of the damage of the original structure forced the actual rebuilding of the church to be scaled-down considerably.
In 1911, the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was founded in Mayagüez. Today it is known as the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez Campus (UPRM) — the Caribbean's leading science and engineering institution.
Between 1962 and 1998 Mayagüez was a major tuna canning and processing center. At one time, 80% of all tuna products consumed in the United States were packed in Mayagüez (the biggest employer, StarKist, had 11,000 employees working three daily shifts in the local plant's heyday). Mayagüez was also a major textile industry hub; until very recently, almost a quarter of all drill uniforms used by the United States Army were sewn in the city.
Mayagüez is located near the geographical center of the west coast of Puerto Rico about 2 hours by automobile from San Juan
. Its land area is . The city's terrain includes; coast plains, river valleys, marshland, hills and mountains. Of its multiple rivers and streams, the two most important are the Yagüez River
, which flows from the Central Mountain Range
through downtown until it empties into the Mona Passage
; and the Guanajibo River
, which flows through several neighborhoods in the southern portion of the municipality until it empties in the Mona Passage as well.
The municipio has an estimated population of just over 100,000 spread over 21 wards (barrios) including Mayagüez Pueblo (The downtown area and the administrative center of the city). One of the wards is Isla de Mona e Islote Monito, which consists of the offshore islands of Mona Island and Monito Island. This is the largest ward by land area, and at the same time the only one without any permanent population. Also, uninhabited Desecheo Island is part of the municipal, as part of Sabanetas barrio.
- Isla de Mona e Islote Monito
- Juan Alonso
- Mayagüez Arriba
- Mayagüez Pueblo
- Quebrada Grande
- Río Cañas Abajo
- Río Cañas Arriba
- Río Hondo
Mayagüez Pueblo is further subdivided into sectors:
- El Seco
- Marina Meridional
Other notable neighborhoods or sectors:
- El Maní - community in Sabanetas
- Mayagüez Terrace - development in Algarrobo, near the UPRM Campus
- Alturas de Mayagüez - development in Algarrobo, near the Holiday Inn Hotel and the Regional Distribution Center
According to 2005 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there are 95,191 people (down from 98,434 in 2000), 31,877 households, and 21,539 families residing in Mayagüez. The population density was /km² (/mi²). There were 39,364 housing units at an average population density of 1,267.9 /mi². The city has a considerable "college population" adding approximately 10,000 people to the year around population of Mayagüez.
In 2000, 41.20% of Mayagüez residents were white; 36.44% were black; 7.54% were Asian; 0.41% were Native American; 0.06% Pacific Islander; 10.05% were of other races; and 4.27% were from two or more races. People of Hispanic or Latino origin, who may be of any race, comprised 19.79% of the population.
Of the 31,877 households in Mayagüez, 38.6% were married couples living together, 22.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living in them. Of all households 27.8% are made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.41.
In Mayagüez, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. Mayagüez has more women, with 88.4 males for every 100 females.
Although the city has seen its share of natural disasters, it faced a major economic downturn due to the closure of its textile
factories and tuna industry, which were the principal industries of the city for the greater part of the 20th century. Over 11,000 permanent jobs in these two industries were lost in the city during the 1990s, and because of this, Mayagüez became the jurisdiction of the United States with the second largest number of industrial job losses during the time period, second only to Flint, Michigan
. Once being the third city in population and importance in Puerto Rico, population numbers for it have been relatively stagnant, and it has actually lost population in recent years.
Downtown Mayagüez, in a way similar to that of many downtown areas in other U.S. cities, was once the main shopping location for the region. Many long-established stores have since moved into one of the area's various shopping centers and malls.
However, due to ancillary infrastructure developments and a renewed effort to repopulate the city's Guanajibo Industrial Park, the local economy has seen a slow turn for the better. In 2005 Winston-Salem Industries for The Blind was the first industry to move into the park in many years. In July 2007 Honeywell opened a customer support service center for its aerospace and information technology divisions in the city. Other industries, such as Lockheed, are expected to follow suit in 2008.
Contributions to Puerto Rican gastronomy
Mayagüez's contributions to Puerto Rican gastronomy have been many, and a few of these are known outside Puerto Rico. Besides being host to one of the largest concentrations of mango
(spelled locally as "mangó"
) trees in the island, the city has been a host to various food enterprises whose products are popular in Puerto Rico (and some elsewhere):
- Brazo gitano - literally "gypsy arm", is the locally produced jelly roll, originally from Spain. E. Franco & Co., a bakery, food importer and restaurant established in the late 1850s, is the best-known provider of brazos gitanos in town. Another (more recent) provider is Ricomini Bakery, whose central store in downtown Mayagüez has been open for over 100 years.
- Sangría de Fido [['fEd-oh]] - the heirs of Wilfrido Aponte still bottle "Sangría de Fido", a powerful concoction inspired on sangria, but actually made with fruit juices, Bacardi 151 rum and burgundy wine (technically not from Bourgogne, but produced by E & J Gallo Winery in Modesto, California). Originally bottled by hand by the bartender since the mid-1970s, "Sangría de Fido" has a sizeable reputation outside Puerto Rico, and can claim tasters from as far away as California and Spain. E & J Gallo once awarded Aponte with a "Customer of the Year" award and flew him to their headquarters. Aponte was reportedly offered $250,000 by Bacardi to sell his original recipe once, to which he refused.
- Bolo's Sorullitos - a now-defunct operation that originated at "Bolo's Restaurant", a seaside eatery next to Mayagüez Bay, which produced sorullitos, or fried cornsticks, along with mayo-ketchup, a dip made of mayonnaise, ketchup and garlic extract. The restaurant was popular in Puerto Rico between the late 1970s and mid-1980s (its custom made building now houses WORA-TV, one of the local television stations). For a while the frozen cornsticks were sold commercially in stores.
- Flan-Es-Cedó' - Elmec Industries, Inc. has been the local flan producer for over thirty years
- India / Medalla beer - the only remaining mass-produced Puerto Rican beer is brewed by "Cervecería India", one of the largest employers in town. "Mayagüezanos" are queued into morning rush hour, lunch and afternoon rush hour by the company's whistle, which rings at 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (all times AST)
- Rex Cream's Ice Cream - established in the mid-1960s by Chinese migrants who came to Puerto Rico by the way of Costa Rica, Rex Cream is a chain of ice cream parlors that had its heyday in the late 1970s. The two flagship stores in Mayagüez, however, are still popular (particularly on Good Friday, since one of the stores is the endpoint for a Good Friday religious procession) for producing alternative ice cream flavors, particularly a corn sherbet.
- Tuna fish - At one time, StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee produced 80% of their collective production for consumption in the United States in Mayagüez. As of the time of writing, the only tuna fish cannery remaining in town is that for Bumble Bee.
A defunct cola bottling operation in town produced "Vita Cola", a popular soft drink in Puerto Rico between the late 1940s and early 1960s.
Mayagüez was a major rum producing city in Puerto Rico between the 1930s and 1970s. Several brands were produced by the city's three rum distillers. The most successful rum producing operation at the time was that of "José González Clemente y Co.", the bottlers of "Ron Superior Puerto Rico", an award-winning dark rum that was bottled between 1909 and the late 1970s.
Festivals and events
- Three Kings Festival - January
- Black and White Festival - January
- Danza National Festival - February
- Matron Celebrations - February
- Mayagüez Carnival - May
- Seco Festival/El Festival de la Cocolia - July
- Mango Festival - August
- Artisan Fair - November
- Christmas Festivities - December
Mayagüez will host the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games
for which the local and commonwealth governments have provided an investment of $250 million for, among other things, building two new stadiums (which are being built at the former site of the Isidoro García Baseball Stadium).
Mayagüez's National Superior Basketball League (BSN) professional basketball team, the Indios de Mayagüez, are named in honor of the city's Indian heritage. Its baseball winter league team (LBPPR), the Indios de Mayagüez, honor both their Indian heritage and the home town's Cervecería India brewery.
Landmarks and places of interest
The wide cross represents Christianity brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus
, who signed his documents with the phrase and the motto Christ Ferens
, which means: "He who has Christ." The blue and white waves between the third and fourth quarters recall the coat of arms granted to Columbus by kings Ferdinand and Isabella. The waves represent the ocean (and particularly Mona Passage) through which he sailed to bring the gospel to these new lands. The blue and white waves symbolize the Yagüez River and evokes the nickname City of Pure Waters. The red and white flames on the flag symbolize the traditional bonfires
of Day of Our Lady of Candelaria
("Día de La Candelaria"), ignited in honor of the city's patron saint
. The flag was officially adopted with the signing of City Ordinance 38, signed December 3,1996
Coat of Arms
According to the Puerto Rican historian Federico Cedó Alzamora
, the original version of the coat of arms
of Mayagüez was given to the city the 19 of December 1894 by the Queen Regent of Spain Maria Christina of Austria
. The upper half of the coat of arms shows the columbine coat of arms recalls and commemorates the discovery of the Island of Borinquén (Puerto Rico) by Columbus in his second trip to the New World in 1493. The lower half of the coat of arms shows a stylized dissembarkment of Columbus on Puerto Rico. The explorer's crew disembarked at the western coast of the island, where several rivers spill their waters in the Mona Passage, among them the Yagüez, from which the name of Mayagüez is derived. The present version was reinterpreted by heraldist Roberto Biascoshea Lota
The city's anthem was written by pianist and ex-music teacher Luciano Quiñones, a long-time resident and now "adopted son" of the city. Until this song's adoption, the plena
", written by César Concepción
, was used by many as an unofficial city song. Quiñones' composition was the winner of a contest sponsored by the city's municipality in 2003.
A MIDI and a recorded version of the anthem can be listened to here
Today, Mayagüez has become a major college town, due in part to the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez or as it is traditionally known, CAAM (Colegio de Agricultura y Artes Mecanicas), the Eugenio Maria de Hostos School of Law, a satellite campus of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and Antillean Adventist University which is known for its nursing school, among other higher education institutions located in the area.
From those mentioned above, the biggest college is the Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPRM) which is a well known and recognized university around the world for its Engineering School.
Furthermore, the city is host to many private and public schools, including the Residential Center for Educative Opportunities of Mayagüez, (CROEM) for its initials in Spanish which is a boarding school. Southwestern Educational Society, (S.E.S.O.) is an English language college preparatory school.
Mayagüez is authorizing new cruise and cargo ship routes, requesting new plane routes to Rafael Hernandez Airport in neighboring Aguadilla (which has been expanded), and working on a lane expansion of the main highway.
The major form of transport in Puerto Rico is the automobile, this fact applies to Mayagüez, which is inadequately served by roads linking it to other parts of the island. PR-2 is the main freeway/highway/avenue between Ponce, Mayagüez, Aguadilla, and Arecibo. It is currently undergoing a conversion to a freeway between Ponce and Mayagüez. Another important route in Mayagüez is PR-102. It begins at an intersection with PR-2, about 2 miles north of Mayagüez Pueblo at the Mar y Sol development and runs along Mayagüez's coastal industrial areas to Joyuda, where it then turns east and terminates in Sabana Grande. It has the worst road infrastructure in Puerto Rico for a city with this population.
Transportation in Mayagüez is limited only to a single trolley service, various private taxi companies and a irregular daytime syndicated público service named "Mayagüez Urbano". The city operates three trolleys, free of cost, which run as shuttle between the downtown area and the Palacio de Recreación y Deportes. The University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez also runs an internal network of trollies to carry its students inside campus and between UPRM, Mayagüez Terrace development and Palacio de Recreación y Deportes, linking here with the city's trolley service.
The Port of Mayagüez is the third busiest port on Puerto Rico. It is located northwest of the central business district along Puerto Rico routes 64, 341, and 3341, and stretches for 3.8 miles along the coast. Its main canal is .4 miles wide and its depth ranges from 47 to 120 feet, the water's depth along the piers ranges between 28 and 29 feet. The port's main tenant is Ferries del Caribe, which provides daily ferry service to the Dominican Republic. The port is protected from rough seas by reefs which run along its northern and western sections.
Mayagüez's airport, Eugenio María de Hostos Airport, also known as El Mani Airport, has had regular airline services for more than thirty years. It is located 4 miles north of the central business district in the Sabanetas Barrio. Prior to being inaugurated in 1955, the airport served as a military base. In the 1970s it had domestic service from Prinair, then from American Eagle and Eastern Air Lines's regional carrier Eastern Metro Express in the 1980s. After Eastern went bankrupt in 1991, American Eagle remained the only airline serving the airport until it ended service to the city on April 30, 2005, due to poor loads. For a while, Fina Air served flights to the Dominican Republic before the airline went bankrupt. Cape Air currently serves the airport with 5 daily flights to San Juan during the high season and three daily flights during the low season.
Arguably the best known native of Mayagüez ever is educator and philosopher Eugenio Maria de Hostos
Well-known living "mayagüezanos" (as of June 2006) include: singer Chucho Avellanet
(Armando Hipólito), his nephew, former Menudo bandmember Roberto Avellanet
, singer, composer and wine maker Wilkins Velez
, jazz flutist Nestor Torres
, Puerto Rican independence leaders Juan Mari Bras
and Rafael Cancel Miranda
hostess Gricel Mamery
players José Vidro
and Wil Cordero
, Associate Secretary
of the United States Navy William A. Navas, Jr.
, WWE wrestlers Nidia Guenard
and her sister Lourdes
, and salsa
percussionist and bandleader Roberto Roena
. Two major Latino television stars in the United States, singer and show host Rafael José
(Diaz) and anchorwoman María Celeste Arrarás
, as well as horror film director and writer Ana Clavell
, were raised in Mayagüez. United States Congressman Jose Serrano
, who represents Congressional District NY-16 (which covers The Bronx
in New York City
) was born in Mayagüez. New York State senator Olga A. Mendez
was also born in Mayagüez.
Other Puerto Rican personalities born in Mayagüez are: journalist Carmen Jovet, news announcer Luz Nereida Velez, comedic actors Adrián García and Shorty Castro, local senator Orlando Parga and puppeteer (Antulio) Kobbo Santarrosa. Journalist Julio Victor Ramirez, hijo was raised in the city.
Iván "FlipZ" Vélez, a professional dancer better known for dating Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls (and participating in their reunion tour in 2007), was born in Mayagüez.
Former mayor of San Juan Hernan Padilla was born in Mayagüez, but raised in the nearby town of Cabo Rojo. Television actor Armando Riesco was born in Mayagüez, but raised in San Juan. Porn star Gina Lynn, born in the city, was raised in Jackson Township, New Jersey.
For a while (since his then-wife Herlinda Gómez was a native of the city) Colombian folk singer and actor Carlos Vives was a part-time resident. So were Spanish journalist and adventurer Miguel de la Quadra Salcedo, local media personality Silverio Pérez, Rock Star: Supernova participant Zayra Acevedo and Ponce mayor Francisco Zayas Seijo when each got a degree from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Hugo Savinovich lived in Mayagüez during the early years of his wrestling career.
Major League Baseball players who played with the Indios de Mayagüez include Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Tommy Lasorda, Ron LeFlore, Denny McLain, William "Boog" Powell, Dave McNally, Phil Niekro, Roberto Hernández and Wally Joyner.
Puerto Rican folk singer Roy Brown Ramirez is a current resident.
- Dr. Franklin Riveya Morenu - Physcologist, Naturopatologist,Writer,Theologist - First Person to have the Naturopatology license to practice in Puerto Rico.
Well-known "mayagüezanos" who have died include: Commander-in-chief of the Cuban independence forces (and participant in the Grito de Lares
) Juan Rius Rivera
, actresses Alicia Moreda
, Lucy Boscana
and Madeline Willemsen
; radio disc jockey
, announcer, musicologist and marketing impresario Gilbert Mamery
singer and band leader Mon Rivera
(The Younger), former Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Ernesto Ramos Antonini
, and former Mayagüez Mayor, Benjamin Cole
, who held his office for 24 consecutive years. His brother, composer Roberto Cole
was also a native. Pilar Defilló i Amigüet
, the mother of cellist Pablo Casals
, was born in Mayagüez. PFC.Humberto Acosta-Rosario
, U.S. Army, is the only Puerto Rican still listed as Missing in Action from the Vietnam War. Oscar Garcia Rivera, Sr.
(1900-1969), the first Puerto Rican to be elected to public office in the continental United States as a member of the New York State Assembly
Latino crooner and salsa singer (of one of Tito Puente's orchestras) Santos Colon was born in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, but since he was raised in Mayagüez since early childhood he considered himself a (rather proud) mayagüezano. Salsa artist Frankie Ruiz, born in Paterson, New Jersey, was also raised in Mayagüez.
Salvador Agrón, a notorious murderer turned youth counselor whose life became the basis for the Broadway play The Capeman, was born in Mayagüez (for a while he was a resident of the local Asilo de Beneficencia, on Ramón E. Betances Avenue) and raised in New York City. Former Puerto Rico governor Roberto Sánchez Vilella was born in Mayagüez, but was raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Lola Rodriguez de Tio, Luis Lloréns Torres and Rafael Martinez Nadal were one-time residents.
Mayagüez serves as a host city for two foreign consulates with business in Puerto Rico:
- Gaudier, Martín, Genealogías, Biografías e Historia del Mayagüez de Ayer y Hoy y Antología de Puerto Rico, 1957.