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Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Municipality
View of Aguadilla (Puerto Rico).jpg
Flag of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Flag
Nickname(s): "El Nuevo Jardín del Atlántico", "La Villa del Ojo de Agua", "El Pueblo de los Tiburones"
Anthem: "Playita Aguadillana"
Location of Aguadilla in Puerto Rico
Location of Aguadilla in Puerto Rico
Country  United States of America
Territory  Puerto Rico
Founded 1775
Founded by Luis de Córdova
Area
 • Total 76.3 sq mi (197.7 km2)
 • Land 36.6 sq mi (94.7 km2)
 • Water 39.0 sq mi (100.9 km2)
Elevation 326 ft (99 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 60,949
 • Density 798.8/sq mi (308.29/km2)
Demonym(s) Aguadillanos
Racial groups
 • 2010 Census 83.0% White
7.4% Black
0.3% American Ind/AN
0.2% Asian
6.8% Some other race
2.4% Two or more races
Time zone AST (no daylight saving time) (UTC-4)
Zip code 00603, 00604, 00605, 00690
Area code 787, 939
Website aguadilla.gobierno.pr

Aguadilla (Spanish pronunciation: [aɣwaˈðiʝa], Watered Smalls), founded in 1775 by Luis de Córdova, is a city and municipality located in the northwestern tip of Puerto Rico bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, north of Aguada, and Moca and west of Isabela. Aguadilla is spread over 15 wards and Aguadilla Pueblo, the administrative center of the city. It is a principal city of the Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastián Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History

According to sources, a Taíno settlement called Amamón was located close to the Culebrinas River.

The present territory of Aguadilla was originally part of the territory of Aguada. In 1775, the foundation of Aguadilla by Don Luis de Córdova was approved. But it wasn't until 1780 that the territory was properly segregated, making the founding of the town official. Originally, Aguadilla was constituted by the Victoria and Higüey wards. This region was already inhabited and known as Aguadilla before 1770. In 1776, Fray Íñigo Abbad y Lasierra in his description of the towns of the island, mentioned it as the "new Town of San Carlos of the Aguadilla." Nevertheless, according to Dr. Agustín Stahl in his Foundation of Aguadilla, it was not until 1780 that the town was officially founded. The construction of a new church and the proceedings to become an independent village began in the 1775.

Aguadilla Pueblo
Aerial view of downtown Aguadilla.

The population in the Village of Aguadilla continued to increase constantly mainly due to its excellent port and strategic location in the route of the boats. In 1776, when Santo Domingo became independent for the first time, the Spanish descended loyals emigrated to Puerto Rico, mainly to Aguadilla, which caused the population to continue increasing significantly. In 1831, according to Don Pedro Tomás de Córdova, the party of Aguadilla belonged to Aguada. At this time, the territorial organization of Aguadilla was as follows: Pueblo Norte (North Town), Pueblo Sur (South Town), Ceiba Alta, Ceiba Baja, Montaña, Malezas, Aguacate, Dos Palmas, Camaseyes, Plainela, Borinquen, Arenales, Higüey, Corrales, Victoria, and Mangual.

Don Pedro Tomás de Córdova mentions the road of Aguadilla formed by Punta Borinquen and San Francisco, as the "fordeadero of the ships that travel from Europe to Havana and Mexico". He adds that its "port is the most frequented in the Island due to the proportions that it offers to refresh all class of ship."

In 1860, Aguadilla was officially declared a village. Several years later, when the island was territorially organized into seven departments, Aguadilla became the head of the third department that included the municipalities of Aguada, Isabela, Lares, Moca, Rincon, and San Sebastián. In January 1841 a Royal Order transferred the judicial party from Aguada to Aguadilla. In 1878, according to Don Manuel Ebeda y Delgado, the territorial organization of Aguadilla had varied a little. At this time Plainela, Higüey, and Mangual wards are not mentioned. The Dos Palmas ward appears as Palmar. Also at this time, three new wards are mentioned: Guerrero, Caimital Alto, and Caimital Bajo. In 1898, even with the change of sovereignty in the island, the territorial organization of Aguadilla is the same to that of 1878. Nevertheless, in the Census of 1899, downtown Aguadilla appears constituted by Higüey, Iglesia, Nueva, Santa Barbara, and Tamarindo wards. Malezas ward appears subdivided into Maleza Alta and Maleza Baja. From that time, the territorial organization of Aguadilla did not change, until 1948, when the Puerto Rico Department of Planning prepared the map of the city and its wards, and following instructions of city authorities, Higüey and parts of Caimital Alto wards are annexed to Downtown Aguadilla.

Ramey

Aguadilla was the site of the U.S. military's Ramey Air Force Base for almost five decades. During this period, Aguadilla was home to the Strategic Air Command 72d Bombardment Wing, Heavy equipped with B-52s, a very strategic facility during the Cold War. During the early years of the base and throughout World War II, Puerto Ricans in the area became more Americanized than in remote locations, and the after effects are still apparent in Aguadilla, and other towns like Aguada, Moca and Isabela.

The military and Puerto Ricans from the surrounding communities generally had good formal relations, but the undercurrent of resentment in many aspects of the relationship was always just below the surface. Many Americans stationed in the area did not even realize that the people all around them were even American citizens.

Though the infrastructure still exists, it was handed over to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1973. The aerial facilities are now civilian controlled by the Puerto Rico Ports Authority. The facilities now make up the Rafael Hernandez International Airport. The barracks now host the Faro Inn Suites, a 79-room hotel. The Officer's Club now hosts the Faro Conference Center, a 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) meeting facility. The hospital is now the Courtyard by Marriott Punta Borinquen Resort & Casino, a 150-room hotel with a casino and the first Marriott in Puerto Rico out of the San Juan Metropolitan Area.

Ramey also hosts the University of Puerto Rico - Aguadilla Campus and the Friedrich Froebel Bilingual School (K-9). The High School became Ramey Job Corps Campus and the elementary school became the Esther Feliciano Mendoza Middle School. Centro de Adiestramiento y Bellas Artes (CABA) since 1979 has been the only public school of arts in Puerto Rico (7-12). Ramey is also the site of the new Ramey Skating Park and a new "mariposario" (butterfly farm).

There is still an active part of the base that hosts the Coast Guard Borinquen Air Station. There are also other government agencies based at Ramey. They include the United States Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs & Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine and Office of Border Patrol, the Fuerzas Unidas de Rápida Acción (United Forces for Rapid Action) of the Puerto Rico Police Department and the Puerto Rico National Guard.

There is also a post office, the Centro de Servicios al Conductor (Driver's Services Center), a bakery, and a Banco Popular de Puerto Rico location.

San Antonio

Aguadilla Plaza, Puerto Rico, 1910
Aguadilla in 1910

The beginning of San Antonio Village was back in the mid-19th century. It was composed by 60 families. Originally the place where these families were located was known as Bajura de Vadi, place later to be known as San Antonio.

In 1918, as a consequence of the 1918 San Fermín earthquake, the village was totally destroyed by a tsunami. The families suffered the struggles cause by this natural disaster, due by the proximity of the village to the shore.

The residents of the village decided re-localize the village in a higher area further from shore. The new location was what today is known as Ramey.

At this new location prosperity was not to be delayed. Various leaders and commercial owners of the time, took a step to carry the village forward. Most of the poor houses disappeared.

The village's infrastructure started its evolution. Luis R. Esteves and Juan Garcia established the first two theaters in the area. A new was social club form, known as "Luz del Porvenir" (Light of the Future). A new school system was the pride of the village because it offered them the opportunity to give their children an education without having to go 9 miles (14 km) south downtown. There was also a new bakery and a post office, among other facilities. At this time, the village also began its Patron Festival.

The clothing industry was a major source of employment.

Prosperity and happiness came to an end, when the news that the Federal Government needed the land to build an air base that came to be known as Ramey Air Force Base. In September 1939, some 3,796 acres (15.4 km2) covered by sugar cane, was expropriated for the military at the cost of $1,215,000.

Since the foundation, the village has suffered three expropriations as a result of expansions to Ramey Air Force Base. This expropriations delayed and ended the plans to turn San Antonio into a town.

Today, the population of San Antonio consists of approximately 10 thousand people. It has a modern square, a Puerto Rico State Police Station, a coliseum, an industrial park, public housing, a baseball park, a public school system, shops, and many other, charasteristics of a small town. Also, as a characteristic of a town, has a flag and an emblem. The creation of the flag and emblem was done by Roberto Román Acevedo.

Tragedy on election day in 1944

On the early morning hours of November 7, 1944, Puerto Rico suffered the most violent railroad accident in its history in Aguadilla. Train No. 3 was traveling from San Juan to Ponce carrying passengers to their different hometowns for the island general elections to be held that same day. It stopped at the Jimenez Station in Aguadilla for a routine engineer and boilerman exchange with Train No. 4 which was heading towards San Juan. The engineer assigned to Train No. 3's ride from Jimenez Station to Ponce was Jose Antonio Roman, an experienced freight train engineer, but who had never worked in passenger travel. When the train left the station at 2:00 am, it was hauling 6 passenger cars with hundreds of commuters and two freight cars.

At 2:20 a.m. the train started to descend a hill section known as Cuesta Vieja (Old Hill) in Aguadilla at what some witnesses described as an exaggerated speed. When the train reached the leveling-off point at the bottom of the hill it derailed. The steam locomotive crashed into a ditch where it exploded and one of the freight cars crashed into one of the passenger cars, killing many inside. Witnesses described the scene as horrendous, with some accounts stating that parents were throwing their children out the windows to save them from the wreckage. Chief of Police Guillermo Arroyo stated that the locomotive (No. 72), the express car, and three second class passenger cars were completely destroyed. Oscar Valle, an Aguadilla correspondent to the local El Mundo newspaper, summarized the scene in a more dramatic way: "The locomotive suffered a terrible explosion as it derailed, and the impact was so strong that 3 passenger cars were converted into a fantastic mound of wreckage. In the end, 16 passengers lost their lives, including the engineer and the boilerman, and 50 were injured in the crash.

Geography

Aguadilla is located in the northwest coast of the island of Puerto Rico, in the Western Coastal Plains. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the north, the municipalities of Isabela on the east, and Moca and Aguada in the south.

The area of the municipality is 35.5 square miles. It is mostly plain, with some notable hills being Jiménez (728 feet) and Viñet (689 feet). It has only one river, the Culebrinas, which separates Aguadilla from Aguada. Also Cedro Creek which separates Aguadilla from Isabela in the north.

Temperature of sea

Aguadilla
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
25 °C (77 °F) 24 °C (75 °F) 25 °C (77 °F) 25 °C (77 °F) 26 °C (79 °F) 27 °C (81 °F) 29 °C (84 °F) 29 °C (84 °F) 30 °C (86 °F) 29 °C (84 °F) 28 °C (82 °F) 26 °C (79 °F) 26.0 °C (78.8 °F)

Cityscape

Barrios

  • Aguacate
  • Aguadilla Pueblo
  • Arenales
  • Borinquen
  • Caimital Alto - El seis
  • Caimital Bajo
  • Camaseyes
  • Ceiba Alta
  • Ceiba Baja
  • Corrales - Urbanizacion Cristal
  • Guerrero
  • Maleza Alta
  • Maleza Baja
  • Montaña
  • Palmar
  • Victoria

Tourism

Aguadilla is part of the Porta del Sol touristic region in Puerto Rico. The Porta del Sol website highlights Aguadilla's beaches for surfing.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, Aguadilla has the most beaches in the island, with nineteen. Some of the beaches are considered among the best for surfing, like Surfer's Beach, Gas Chambers, Crash Boat, Wilderness, among others. Because of this, Aguadilla has served as host to surfing competitions, like the ISA World Championship in 1988.

Other attractions of the town are Las Cascadas Water Park and the Aguadilla Ice Skating Arena, which is the only ice skating complex in the Caribbean.

Landmarks and places of interest

  • Aguadilla City Hall - Originally built in 1918. Reconstructed after the 1918 earthquake.
  • Banyan Treehouse - Wooden House around a banyan tree. Any of its parts touches the tree.
  • Campanitas de Cristal Fountain
  • Cathedral San Carlos Barromeo
  • Christopher Columbus Monument - Consists of a cross originally made of marble. It also had to be rebuilt after the earthquake.
  • Cristobal Colón Park
  • El Merendero
  • El Parterre Jose de Jesus Esteves "Ojo de Agua"
  • Fisherman's Monument
  • Jardin del Atlántico Square
  • Las Cascadas (The Waterfalls) Water Park
  • Old Sugar Pier
  • Paseo Miguel Garcia Mendez
  • Punta Borinquen Golf Course - Is an 18-hole golf course, originally built for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • Punta Borinquen Lighthouse
  • Punta Borinquen Lighthouse Ruins
  • Rafael Hernández Monument
  • Rafael Hernandez Square
  • Ramey Skate Park New
  • Tribunal Supremo (Old Courthouse)
  • Youth Fountain Juan Ponce de León Park

Beaches

  • Crash Boat Beach
  • La Ponderosa Beach
  • La Poza Beach
  • La Saldinera Beach
  • Surfer's Beach
  • Wilderness Beach (Las Ruinas)
  • Rompeolas Beach

Culture

Events and festivals

Aguadilla is the site of several yearly celebrations and festivals. The most notable are:

  • Velorio de Reyes - Celebrated mostly in January, they are a religious ceremony held as gratitude to the Three Kings for some answered prayer. They usually consist of hymns, prayers, and other religious expressions.
  • Kite Festival - Held in April, it includes kiosks, music, and kite flying.
  • Fiestas San Antonio - April
  • Verbena de Corrales - May
  • Beach Festival - June
  • Festival del Atún - Celebrated in July, it is a festival dedicated to the fishing of the tuna.
  • Festival de la Música - July
  • Fiestas Patronales San Carlos - October

Sports

Aguadilla is home to several professional and amateur sports teams. The most notable are the Aguadilla Divas of the Female Superior Volleyball League, and the Aguadilla Sharks of the Superior Baseball League (Double-A). The Divas play their home games in the Luis T. Diaz Coliseum in Downtown Aguadilla from January to March, while the Sharks play their home games at Luis A. Canera Marquez Stadium from February to May.

Club League Sport Venue
Aguadilla Sharks Superior Baseball League Baseball Luis A. Canera Marquez Stadium
Aguadilla Divas Female Superior Volleyball League Volleyball Luis T. Diaz Coliseum

Aguadilla also had a professional basketball team called the Aguadilla Sharks, that played for the BSN league. This team was merged into the Cangrejeros de Santurce in 1998.

Aguadilla is also a place where many famous baseball players originate from. There are plans for a future ECHL Minor League Hockey franchise for the city.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 15,943
1970 21,031 31.9%
1980 54,606 159.6%
1990 59,335 8.7%
2000 64,685 9.0%
2010 60,949 −5.8%

According to the 2010 Census, population in Aguadilla is at 60,949. This represents a decrease of more than 3,000 from the 2000 Census.

As a whole, Puerto Rico is populated mainly by people from a Creole (born on the Island of European descent) or Spanish and European descent, with small groups of African and Asian people. Statistics taken from the 2000 census shows that 83.6% of Aguadillanos have Spanish or white origin, 5.0% are black, 0.2% are Amerindian, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 8.2% were Some other race, 2.8% Two or more races.

On March 2012, unemployment was at 16.2%, which is the same percent it was in November 2010.

Transportation

Aguadilla airport
Rafael Hernandez International Airport - View of the Passenger Terminal

Air

Rafael Hernández Airport is located in the city of Aguadilla. In recent years, it has seen a resurgence as an international airport in the island, with several airlines planning flights to the US from Aguadilla.

Roads

Interstate PR-2 (Rafael Henández Highway). Plans are underway for a new expressway, an expansion to existing Puerto Rico Highway 22 (José de Diego Expressway) from Hatillo and it will probably end at Puerto Rico Highway 111.

Public

King Face Public Transportation Terminal

Images for kids


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