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Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

Mayagüez is the eighth-largest municipality of Puerto Rico. It was founded as Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, and is also known as La Sultana del Oeste, Ciudad de las Aguas Puras, or Ciudad del Mangó. On April 6, 1894, the Spanish crown gave it the formal title of Excelente Ciudad de Mayagüez. Mayagüez is located in the center of the western coast on the island of Puerto Rico. It is a principal city of the Mayagüez Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Mayagüez–San Germán–Cabo Rojo Combined Statistical Area.


The Mayagüez Metro Area (and part of Añasco) lies today on two former Taíno Cacicazgos (chiefdoms): Yaguex and Yagüeca, a region noted for its record of colonial resistance (i.e., Urayoán and Legend of Diego Salcedo). The Tainos constituted the majority of the island's inhabitants at the time of contact with Europeans in 1493 and called it Borikén or Borinquen, which means: "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord" or "land of the great lords." Today, this appellation and its variations continue to designate the Island of Puerto Rico and its people. These Taínos came from South American branches of Arawakan speakers, more specifically from Venezuela, and lived in small villages, organized their society in clans and named their chiefs Cacique. They were farmers who domesticated crops as pineapples, cassava, and sweet potatoes supplemented by fish and seafood.

Mayagüez was founded on September 18, 1760 by a group led by brothers Faustino and Lorenzo 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. The settlement was named Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Mayagüez (Our Lady of Candelaria of Mayagüez) to evoke an apparition of the Virgin Mary on the island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. Most of the town's settlers, including its founders, migrated from the archipelago, whose patron saint is the Virgin of Candelaria.

On May 7, 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 July 10, 1877 the villa received its city charter from the Royal Crown of Spain.

The city's main Roman Catholic church, Our Lady of the Candelaria, was built in a plot consecrated on August 21, 1760. Its first masonry building was erected in 1780. The current church was built in 1836, and was rebuilt in 1922. The redesign by architect Luis Perocier sought to restore the building to its original splendor. The 1918 San Fermín earthquake had destroyed the temple's ceiling, and a lightning bolt 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 rebuilding 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 at Mayagüez (UPRM) — the Caribbean's leading 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; almost a quarter of all drill uniforms used by the United States Army were sewn in the city. Today, Mayagüez is the fifth-largest city and is considered one of the most important cities in the island. The city is centered on the impressive Spanish-style Plaza Colón, a tribute to Christopher Columbus, whose stature stands in the middle of the square, surrounded by 16 bronze statues.

Mayagüez has become a major college town with the establishment of the UPRM, the now closed Eugenio María de Hostos Law School and the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.


Mayagüez is located near the geographical center of the west coast of Puerto Rico about two to three hours by automobile from San Juan. Its land area is 77.6 square miles (201.06 km2). 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 Río Yagüez, which flows from the Central Mountain Range through downtown until it empties into the Mona Passage; and the Río Guanajibo, which flows through several neighborhoods in the southern portion of the municipality until it empties in the Mona Passage.

National protected area


Mayagüez has a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am). The city has the most extreme weather of the island. The high frequency of severe storms in the summer can produce strong winds, floods, waterspouts, and sometimes hail and even tornadoes. The average annual temperature is 75 °F (24 °C). Winter is usually quite dry and cool, with temperatures between 82 °F (28 °C) and 55 °F (13 °C). Summer is usually very hot and humid, with temperatures reaching 95 °F (35 °C), with heat index of up to 115 °F. From May to October, most evenings experience severe thunderstorms, due to heat, humidity and the topography of the area.


According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there are 92,156 people (down from 98,434 in 2000) in 38,469 housing units residing in Mayagüez. The population density was 1,187 inhabitants per square mile (458/km2). The city has a considerable "college population" adding approximately 10,000 people to the year round population of Mayagüez. People of Hispanic or Latino origin, who may be of any race, composed 98.9% of the population.

Of the 31,877 households in 2007 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.


The city has had several 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 most industrial job losses during the time, second only to Flint, Michigan. Once the third city in population and importance in Puerto Rico, population numbers for it have been relatively stagnant, and it has lost population.

Mayaguez has a floating population due to its universities, principally the University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez Campus of about 15,000-20,000 which contributes considerably to its economy.

In 2005 Winston-Salem Industries for The Blind was the first industry to move into the city's industrial park in many years. In July 2007 Honeywell opened a customer support service center for its aerospace and information technology divisions in the city.


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 trees in the island, the city has been a host to various food enterprises whose products are popular in Puerto Rico (and some elsewhere):

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 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


Mayagüez hosted 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 (the first a re-built Isidoro García Baseball Stadium the second next to it a track and field and soccer stadium. Mayagüez also hosted the 2011 Caribbean Series.

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 their Indian heritage and the home town's Cervecería India brewery. The professional volleyball team Indias de Mayagüez from Liga de Voleibol Superior Femenino, plays locally at local Palacio de Recreación y Deportes.

The "Justas" or Inter University Games of the Liga Atlética Interuniversitaria de Puerto Rico, were held in Mayagüez in 2010 in preparation for the Central American and Caribbean Games. Also they were held in 2016 and they are to be held in 2017.


Landmarks and places of interest


As one of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities, Mayagüez's government has two branches, the executive and the legislative. Those citizens eligible to vote, directly elect a mayor and the municipal assembly for four-year terms. The municipal government is housed in Mayagüez City Hall or Casa Alcaldia, which faces the south-side of the Plaza de Colon.

The executive branch is headed by a popularly elected mayor. The office is held by El Cacique José Guillermo Rodríguez. In addition to running the city's day-to-day operations and supervising associated departments, the mayor is also responsible for appointing a secretary-auditor and a treasurer.

Mayagüez's Municipal Assembly is made up of sixteen elected officials, as defined in the Puerto Rico Law of Autonomous Municipalities of 1991.

The city belongs to the Puerto Rico Senatorial district IV, which is represented by two Senators. In 2012, María Teresa González and Gilberto Rodríguez were elected as District Senators.

Public services

Fire and safety

Law enforcement in Mayagüez is the joint responsibility of the Mayagüez Municipal Police Department and the Puerto Rico Police Department. The first fire fighters corps in the city was created in 1876.



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(a tradition started for Spanish settlers from the Canary Islands). 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 19 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 Biascochea Lota.


The city's anthem was written by pianist and former music teacher Luciano Quiñones, a long-time resident and now "adopted son" of the city. Until this song's adoption, the plena "A Mayagüez", 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.

Mayor José Guillermo Rodríguez and the Municipal Legislature entrusted the Advisory Board of Art and Culture of Mayagüez to hold a contest to select an anthem for the city. The selected composition was a danza by Mr Luciano Quiñones, who has a bachelor's degree in music, a piano professor the Escuela Libre de Música de Mayagüez, he is a music composer already winning nineteen awards in competitions held by the Institute of Puerto Rican culture, and the Circulo de Recreo de San Germán. The lyrics alludes to the emblematic symbols of Mayagüez; its nicknames, to its Patron Saint, its taste of mango, to its sunsets in the bay, to the Taíno, to Eugenio María de Hostos, their role as cultural cradle, the sympathy of the ladies and the dream of its valleys and its mountains.

The anthem was presented to the people in a memorable concert held in commemoration of the 239 anniversary of the founding of the city on the night of September 18, 1999, interpreted by tenor, Mayagüez adopted son, Rafael José Díaz, Mayagüezana lyric soprano, Hilda Ramos, accompanied by the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra conducted by its Associate Director, Mayagüezana Roselyn Pabón, in the same place where such Symphony Orchestra offered his first concert forty years earlier: the Plaza Colón. This danza was recognized as the official anthem of Mayagüez through the Municipal Ordinance number 58, series 1999-2000, adopted on 20 December 1999 by the City Council, which was signed by the Mayor, Honorable José Guillermo Rodríguez on December 24, 1999.

MIDI and recorded versions of the anthem can be listened to here.


Public schools

The Residential Center for Educative Opportunities of Mayagüez, (CROEM) is one of only two public boarding schools in Puerto Rico. The largest public high school in town is Eugenio María de Hostos High School. The other public high school in Mayaguez is Dr. Pedro Perea Fajardo Vocational High School. The former José De Diego High School was finally closed in 2009.

Private schools

The non-profit Southwestern Educational Society (SESO) maintains the Southwestern Community School, an English language college preparatory school. Other private schools include: Colegio San Benito, (CSB) (Saint Benedict College), the Academia de la Inmaculada Concepción (Academy of the Immaculate Conception), Colegio Episcopal San Andrés (San Andres Episcopal College), Colegio Presbiteriano Pablo Casasús (Has been closed since 2016), Colegio De La Milagrosa (College of Our Lady of Miracles), the Academia Adventista del Oeste (Western Adventist Academy) and Academia Adventista de Bella Vista (Bella Vista Adventist Academy).

Colleges and universities

Mayagüez has become a major college town, due in part to various higher learning institutions in the city.

There are also a number of junior colleges in the city:

Health care & hospitals


Roads and highways

The dominant form of transport in Puerto Rico is the automobile. Mayagüez is served by two highways linking it to other parts of the island.

Puerto Rico Highway 2 existing as an arterial road is a primary route between Ponce to the south-east and Aguadilla and Arecibo to the north and north-east respectively. PR-2 is 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.

The portion of the highway adjacent to the Estadio Isidoro Garcia was upgraded from a two-lane road into an urban boulevard in anticipation of the 2010 Centro-American and Caribbean Games celebrated in Mayagüez. In addition to this upgrade, an elevated by-pass was constructed from the coastal park site over the Yagüez River ending at the Concordia Housing Project.

Public transportation

Transportation in Mayagüez is limited to a trolley service, various private taxi companies and an occasional daytime syndicated público service named Mayagüez Urbano (Urban Mayagüez) that provide transportation between the main points of the city at a cost of $2.00 per route. Passenger transportation between Mayagüez and San Juan is operated by the Linea Sultana, another syndicated service.

The city operates three trolleys, free of charge, which run as shuttles between the downtown area and the Palacio de Recreación y Deportes.

The University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) also runs an internal network of trolleys to carry its students inside campus and between UPRM's Mayagüez Terrace development and Palacio de Recreación y Deportes, linking here with the city's trolley service. There are some proposals to expand the municipal trolley service to serve inside the UPRM.

For the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games the Puerto Rico's Department of Transportation and Public Works released an express public bus system operated with Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (San Juan's Metropolitan Bus Authority) buses specially assigned to serve the city of Mayagüez. During the Mayagüez 2010 Games, this bus network was carrying passengers in a corridor along Highway 2 and some main roads. The UPRM trolleybus network was integrated into this service too. Although suspended after the Mayagüez 2010 Games ended, the system is expected to be re-established shortly.


The Port of Mayagüez is the third busiest port on Puerto Rico. It was base for several years to several tuna and fish companies who made the port a considerable busy one. It was normal to see 3 to 4 ships docked at any given day but due to the Section 936 termination the industries started to leave until 2000 approximately when only the ferry and the Federacion de Industria Agropecuaria silos pier were left. It is located northwest of the central business district along Puerto Rico routes 64, 341, and 3341, and stretches for 3.8 miles (6.1 km) along the coast. Its main canal is 0.4 miles (0.64 km) wide and its depth ranges from 47 to 120 feet (14 to 37 m), the water's depth along the piers ranges between 28 and 29 feet (8.5 and 8.8 m). The port is protected from rough seas by reefs which run along its northern and western sections.

On March 16, 2011 a new ferry service to Dominican Republic was launched by America Cruise Ferries. Late 2016 the municipal administration awarded an administration contract to a private company after years of legal disputes and non complying groups involved. The municipal administration had plans of development for the port back to 2004 when they received a portion of port area from the central government( the ferry pier and terminal) but 12 years later the port has seen very little to none progress.


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. Before 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.

Notable Mayagüezanos


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All content originates from the English Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0