Located in the north coast area of the island, Bayamon Puerto Rico is north of Aguas Buenas and Comerio, south of Toa Bajo and Cataňo, west of Guaynabo and east of Toa Alta and Naranjito. Consisting of 11 wards, with Bayamon Pueblo as the administrative centre, Bayamon Puerto Rico covers a total of 112.1 square kilometres of terrain.
According to the 2000 Census, the population of Bayamon is 224,004, making it the second largest municipality, by population, in Puerto Rico after San Juan.
The terrain of Bayamon Puerto Rico is mostly low lying plains, with the highest points being found at La Peňa, La Vergaras and Santa Ana, which peak at 551, 270 and 120 metres above sea level. The main river of Bayamon is Rio Bayamon, the sixth largest river in Puerto Rico at 41 kilometres in length.
The source of Rio Bayamon can be found in the mountains near Cidra, and the river is fed by smaller streams including Minillas, La Plata, Cuesta Arriba and Hondo.
The History of Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Bayamon’s development and growth into a major population began with the agriculture of sugar, which would prove key in stimulation of the economy as the initial period of mining came to a close.
In 1548, the first sugar mill was set up in the area of Santa Ana by Gregoria Santolaya. This was followed by two “blood” powered mills, that is to say that the mills working parts were powered by oxen, horses or slaves. A year later, in 1549, the island’s first hydraulic mill was introduced.
By the 1700s the Santa Cruz sugar mill was well established and a strong population had grown in the area, however official founding of Bayamon Puerto Rico did not occur until the 1770s. Perhaps inspired by the successes of other newly founded municipalities on the island, residents of what was then known as Riviera de Bayamon put forward a request to create a new parish.
Two Catholic churches had already been built, including one on the Santa Cruz sugar mill. The residents stated that they wanted to move the church to a new located as the older one was too small and in bad condition. Captain General Don Miguel Muesas and a vicar, Jose Maysonet gave permission to found the town, and on May 22, Jose Martinez Matos blessed the land where the new church would stand and laid the first stone. It took 20 years more before official plans of the town were drawn up by nautical navigation expert Ignacio Mascro y Homar.
One of the interesting points in the history of Bayamon Puerto Rico was a slave rebellion led by Marcos Xiorro. Slave labour was widely used during the 18th and 19th Century and conditions could be brutal as much of the work on sugar plantations was done by hand.
Slaves were treated as property instead of individual employees and tensions rose. It is said that the 1821 slave revolt was planned during Bomba dances which the slaves performed in their free time.
Xiorro gathered with other slaves who worked on the hacienda owned by Vicente Andino and planned to take control of the area. They also contacted slaves in other haciendas in the area to join forces with them. The plan involved hiding weapons amongst the sugar cane plants and taking over by force – and all may have gone well had it not been for one slave who was loyal to his master and decided to inform him of what was about to happen.
Records do not state what happened to each of the slaves involved in the drama, however it is likely that they were severely punished for their intended dissent.
Throughout its history, Bayamon Puerto Rico has changed its borders and districts several times, but the most significant change came with the creation of a new municipality – Castaňo, in 1920. This meant that Bayamon lost its coastline, which had at one time been part of the route to the capital city of San Juan.
Today, Bayamon is recognised as being one of the islands most important towns, with a strong economy and large manufacturing and pharmaceutical industry. Although sugar is no longer a main crop cultivated in this area, its residents still remember the importance of sugar cane in the birth and growth of the city.
Places to Visit in Bayamon Puerto Rico
Monument to the Troubadours (Monumenta a las Trovadores)
The Monument to the Troubadours celebrates the famous Puerto Rican tradition with statues of typically dressed musicians.
Angel Rivera Rodriguez City Hall
For those with an interest in architecture, the Angel Rivera Rodriguez City Hall is a top sight to see in Bayamon. Designed by Marvel and Marchand Architects, the building was opened in 1980. The eight story high structure reaches over a 5 lane highways, with a spectacular glass and metal walkway. As one of the first buildings of its style, the city hall displays an innovative way of creating a large building where sufficient ground space is not available.
Hacienda Santa Ana
What remains of Hacienda Santa Ana is on the outskirts of Bayamon. The hacienda was founded in the 18thCentury by the Fernandez family, who started out producing sugar and livestock – mainly cattle. Rum, made from honey and sugar, was also produced on the property and it soon became famous for its “Ron de Barrilito”, making it the oldest rum production facility on the island. Today, visits can be arranged to Santa Ana through the new generation of the Fernandez family.
Jose Celso Barbosa Museum
Jose Celso Barbosa was born in Bayamon Puerto Rico and had a successful career as a doctor and journalist as well as serving as a member of the Puerto Rican Senate. Barbosa is proudly remembered by Bayamoneses for many reasons – not only was he the first Puerto Rican to earn a US medical degree, but he also strived to make life better for the people of his country.
His achievements also include establishing the country’s first health care insurance programme, while his humanitarian efforts were a constant. Barbosa’s work is remembered with an annual holiday on 27th July, the date of his birth, and the Jose Celso Barbosa Museum. The Museum was Barbosa’s home and includes personal items and documents, as well as a room recreated to resemble his office.
The Francisco Oller Art Museum
The building which houses the Francisco Oller Art Museum in Bayamon Puerto Rico was built under the orders of the mayor Virgilio Davila in 1907. Originally serving as the city hall, the neo-classical building was designed by Camilo Gonzalez and the facade retains its original character.
Alongside works of Francisco Oller, whose artwork paints a brutal yet honest picture of peasants and slavery, the museum contains works by Puerto Rican artists such as Tomas Batista, Juan Santos and Angel Luis Rivera Feliciano. The museum also houses a collection of Santos – religious figurines.
Luis A Ferre Science Park
Named for the former Puerto Rican governor, the Luis A Ferre Science Park is spread over 42 acres in central Bayamon. Aimed at providing education in a fun format, the park has themed museums, an 86 metre high observation tower, a zoo and an artificial zoo.
The Doll Museum
The Doll Museum is a pink painted building which houses a collection of 952 dolls from around the world. The dolls were collected by Catalina Hernandez de Rodriguez, and the displays include curiosities such as nesting dolls, and antique porcelain dolls with human milk teeth!
Paseo Lineal Rio Bayamon
The Paseo Lineal was opened in 2003 and runs 9km along the banks of Rio Bayamon. Two tracks – one for pedestrians and one for cyclists – are dotted with rest spots and benches, and free fitness classes take place throughout the year.
Estrella del Norte
The massive Estrella del Norte – star of the north – sculpture stands in from of the Urban Tren Station, which provides cheap and reliable transport throughout the city. The imposing star sculpture was created by Pablo Rubio from stainless steel, and measures 187 metres in height, and 18 metres in length. The sculpture is lit in the traditional blue and silver colours of Bayamon and has its own eatery and parking area.
Central Park of Bayamon
Designed to provide a safe and fun place for families to enjoy the outdoors, the Central Park of Bayamon is sometimes called “Parque de los Ninos” – the Children’s Park. The 11 acre recreational area has play areas, a lagoon with turtles and fish, cafeterias and many more facilities.
Santa Cruz Church
The Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) Church was originally built of wood and located on Hacienda Santa Cruz. Later, residents of the area requested that it be moved, and it was rebuilt in Alto de Embarcadero – what is now central Bayamon. The church has a single nave with barrel vault and was completed in 1872, making it one of the oldest churches on the island.
Facts About Bayamon, Puerto Rico
There is no documentation to prove how Bayamon earns its name. Some people believe that it was named for a Taino Cacique called Bahamon, although the historian Cayetano Coll Y Toste claims that the area of Bayamon was ruled by a Cacique called Majagua. Another theory is that the name Bayamon was taken from the Taino name for the river – Bayamongo.
Bayamon is famous for its chicharron and is nicknamed El Pueblo de Chicharron. Chicharron is made from pork rind which is salted and fried until crispy, and served with local bread called pan de hogaza. It is believed that the tradition of eating chicharron started with slaves, who were given the pork rind by their masters.
Another nickname given to Bayamon Puerto Rico is Ciudad del Tapon for the traffic jams which are often experienced in the city.
The people of Bayamon are called Bayamoneses.
The flag of Bayamon was designed by Gloria M Leon Rodriguez and was officially adopted in 1977. The flag has a white background, with a yellow-edged, blue cross embroidered over it, and was inspired by the coat of arms. The Coat of Arms of Bayamon was designed by Roberto Biasoechea Lota and takes blue and white as its main colours, in reference to Bayamon river.
The blue cross on a white band is surrounded by blue, with decorative sugar cane flowers and topped by a five towered castle to denote Bayamon’s city status. A banner below the shield reads “In Hoc Signo Vinces” which is traditionally translated as “with this sign you will conquer” – the sign being the cross of Christianity.
Bayamon’s patron saint is Santa Cruz. The Patron Saint festival is celebrated at the end of April.
Famous People from Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Lucecita Benitez – singer who was nicknamed “the voice of a nation”
Jose Antonio Davila – poet and essay writer, who also translated from English to Spanish the works of Shakespeare and Milton, amongst many others.
Braulio Dueno Colon – musician and composer of classic and popular music. Founded and directed municipal band of Bayamon where lived till death in 1934
Virgilio Davila – poet and politician, mayor of Bayamon for 5 years
Jesus Sanchez Erazo – troubaadour who was nicknamed“chuito de bayamon”, famous for his criolla music. He toured the US, Cuba and Spain with his unique and passionate style.