Guaynabo, Puerto Rico is located on the north coast of the island. The municipality is positioned north of Aguas Buenas, south of San Juan Bay and Cataňo, west of Bayamon and east of San Juan. Guaynabo, Puerto Rico has nine wards, with Guaynabo Pueblo as the administrative centre, and covers 70.2 square kilometres of terrain in total. The population of this area, according to the 2000 Census, is approximately 100,053.
As part of the northern coastal plain, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico is fmostly low lying and incorporates the karst region – where rocky structures formed by water erosion can be seen. The highest points are Cerro Marquesa, at 510 metres above sea level and Caneja at 90 meters above sea level. Caneja is of particular geological interest as it has a large, light cave with five different entrances. The main river is the Rio Guaynabo – the largest tributary of the Rio Bayamon.
History of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Guaynabo is often referred as “El Primer Poblado de Puerto Rico” as it was the location of the first non-indigenous settlement on the island. Before the arrival of Ponce de Leon and his men in 1509, the area had been known by its Taíno inhabitants as Buinabo. At the time, the Cacique (chieftain) was Mabo, however detailed documentation about his life has been lost with the passing on centuries. The word “Guaynabo” is thought by many historians to have been created from Taíno words for “Here is another place of sweet (fresh) water/life”.
When the conquistadors arrived in what is now Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, they started to build a settlement.This first settlement was called Caparra, and consisted of a number of simple structures which formed huts, businesses and warehouses, surrounding a central plaza. A larger building was built to house Ponce de Leon, constructed from stone and mud and later having a parapet and battlements added. Historians claim that Ponce de Leon named Caparra in honour of the city of Capara, near his home town of Caceras in the Extremadura region of Spain.
With time, it became clear to the settlers that Caparra was not an ideal location for a capital city. Ponce de Leon had left the island to make further explorations in 1512, and plans began to move the settlement to another location – the nearby islet of San Juan. Unlike Caparra, San Juan was easily to access for trade and supplies, had better possibilities for defence from Taíno attacks and was not swampy or plagued by mosquitoes.
Between 1519 and 1521, Caparra was abandoned and the most structures demolished. Within just a few years, the location of the first settlement was forgotten, and not recovered for hundreds of years. Had it not been for the decision to move elsewhere, it is possible that Caparra would have been the capital city of Puerto Rico.
Between 1723 and 1768, a small population began to grow in the area which would eventually become Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. In 1764, it was noted that a Jose Valerio Melendez led a number of residents of the area in putting forward a request to turn their settlement into an official municipality. In 1768, records show that a church was established and a first lieutenant posted in the area, and in 1769, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico was officially founded. The area’s economy was focused on the agriculture of fruit crops and livestock production.
However, in 1875, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico lost its position as a municipality for administrative reasons, and its wards were split between Rio Piedras and Bayamon. This remained the case until 1912, when Guaynabo was again proclaimed as a municipality. During the 1950s and 1960s, Guaynabo saw a boost in economical development as part of Operation Bootstrap.
People were encouraged to come and establish business in Guaynabo, rather than seeing it as a secondary town on the way to San Juan. As a result of this, numerous wealthy families moved to Guaynabo, creating middle and upper class communities which still exist today.
Places to See in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
One of the most important places to visit in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico is the site of Caparra, Ponce de Leon’s first choice for a settlement on the island. The actual position of Caparra was forgotten until 1917, when developers uncovered the ruins during the construction of a highway connection Guaynabo and Bayamon. Unfortunately some of the structures were damaged beyond repair, and it was not until excavations led by Adolfo de Hostas between 1935 and 1938.
It was during this dig that the remains of Ponce de Leon’s house were found. Further excavations took place in 1956, led by Dr Ricardo Alegria. Due to the widening of the highway system , it was deemed necessary to remove the artifacts found on the site to a nearby spot where they would not be destroyed. Today, the ruins of Caparra are a quiet yet fascinating attraction, with the Museum of Conquest and Colonisation run by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture displaying a range of art and artifacts dating back to the time of Ponce de Leon.
For a look at the more recent history of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico it is worth visiting the Rafal Martinez Nadal Museum. Housed in the former home of the third president of the Puerto Rico Senate, the museum is run by descendants of Martinez Nadal. Although it is open by appointment only, the museum is well worth a visit, with antique furniture dating to the 1930s and memorabilia relating to the founder of the Partido Union Republicana’s campaigns for statehood, women’s rights and political career.
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico also has its own Museum of Sport (Museo de Deporte), which is one of the largest and most modern museums of its kind in Latin America. The museum features memorabilia and displays relating to Puerto Rico’s best known and most skilled sports players, athletes and teams.
Another point of interest is the Centro de Belles Artes, which was opened in 1995 and offers a variety of concerts, theatre performances and more, with an aim of bringing culture to a wide audience. Meanwhile the Concha Acustica – an open air amphitheatre- hosts numerous acts throughout the year.
One of the most beautiful places to see in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico is La Marquesa Forest, a wet tropical rainforest, which is nicknamed the “Green Lung of Guaynabo”.The recently developed facility covers 600 acres, and was named for Cerro Marquesa. As a recreational area, La Marquesa offers a wealth of attractions, including a trolley ride to an observation point 1066 feet above sea level, with views to San Juan and the North Shore of the island. Proposed further developments include an aviary, butterfly house and gift shop, however some delays were caused after a small fire broke out on the construction site in October 2010.
Facts About Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico has been given many nicknames. Along with the aforementioned Primer Pueblo de Puerto Rico, it is also called the City of the Conquistadors, the City of Sport and Mabo Carnival Town. People from Guaynabo are called Guayabeňos.
The Mabo Carnival is named in honour of the Taíno Cacique Mabo and is scheduled to take place the weekend before Ash Wednesday when (according to Catholic tradition) the fasting period of Lent begins. This colorful annual event has been celebrated for more than 30 years and includes bright costumes, local music and typical foods, as well as a playful event called the Entierro de la Sardina – the burial of the sardine.
The flag of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico is divided into two halves which are colored green and white. The left hand side is green, embellished with a Cross of Saint Peter formed by Fleur de lys flowers. The white side of the flag is without adornment, and the two colors intersect in a notched pattern. The coat of arms bears the same colors and cross of Saint Peter, as well as a fortified building to represent the house of Ponce de Leon.
People from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Roman Baldorioty de Castro was born in Guaynabo on 23 February 1823. His family were not wealthy, but he received a scholarship which allowed him to travel to Madrid and attend university there. After his studies were finished, he returned to Puerto Rico and during the 1870s was involved in campaigns to form a constitution for the country. Later he was involved in the founding of the Partido Autonomista and the Ponce based newspaper El Derecho. Baldorioty was imprisioned in El Morro, which had negative effects on his health, leading to his death (after release) in 1889. His work as a lawyer and abolitionist are still proudly remembered by the Guayabeňos today.