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Aguadilla ( ), founded in 1775 by Luis de Córdova, is a city located in the northwestern tip of Puerto Rico bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, north of Aguadamarker, and Mocamarker and west of Isabela. Aguadilla is spread over 15 wards and Aguadilla Pueblo (The downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is a principal city of the Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastián Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Aguadilla has been the recipient of the "Best Quality of Life Award", given by the National Mayor Association, in 2002 and 2004.

History

The present territory of the City of Aguadilla, was originally part of the territory of Aguadamarker, which segregated around 1780 to form an independent party.

Formerly, all the section of Aguada's territory that today constitutes the Victoria and Higüey wards was known as Aguadilla. Long before 1770 in Higüey existed a village, which in 1776 Fray Iñigo Abbot, in his description of the towns of the island, mentions 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 independent from Puerto Rico and to constitute itself an independent party began in the 1775.

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 Domingomarker became independent for the first time, the loyals to Spain 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 the Point of Borinquen and the Point of San Francisco, as the "fordeadero of the ships that travel from Europe to Havanamarker 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, Mocamarker, Rinconmarker, and San Sebastián. In January 1841 a Royal Order transferred the judicial party from Aguada to the new Town of 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 of Aguadilla 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 Basemarker 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. The Ugly American attitude was far more prevalent in those days than today, and almost all Puerto Ricans have stories of abusive treatment or gross discrimination. They were often treated like second class citizens in their own homeland. In fact, many Americans stationed in the area didn't even realize that their fellow Americans were even American citizens. They expected the Puerto Ricans to treat them as if they were their great benefactors, rather than fellow American citizens.

Though the infrastructure still exists, it was handed over to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the 1973. The aerial facilities are now civilian controlled by the Puerto Rico Ports Authority. The facilities now make up the Rafael Hernandez International Airportmarker. The barracks now host the Faro Inn Suites, a 79-room hotel. The Officer's Club now hosts the Faro Conference Center, a 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 Juanmarker Metropolitan Area.

Ramey also hosts the University of Puerto Rico - Aguadilla Campusmarker and the Friedrich Froebel Bilingual School (K-6). 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 being the only plublic 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 Securitymarker, Customs & Border Protection, and the United States 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

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 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 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 built an air base that came to be known as Ramey Air Force Basemarker.In September 1939, some 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 Basemarker. 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 Poncemarker 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 2:00am, 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.

Demographics



As a whole, Puerto Rico is comprised mainly of people from a Creole(born on the Island of Europeandescent) 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 Spanishor whiteorigin, 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.

Barrios (Districts/Wards)

  • Aguacate
  • Aguadilla Pueblo
  • Arenales
  • Borinquen
  • Caimital Alto
  • Caimital Bajo
  • Camaceyes
  • Ceiba Alta
  • Ceiba Baja
  • Corrales
  • Guerrero
  • Maleza Alta
  • Maleza Baja
  • Montaña
  • Palmar
  • Victoria


Geography



Government

City

Aguadilla City Government is based at the Alcaldia (Aguadilla City Hall) in Downtown Aguadilla. Aguadilla is governed by a mayor that is elected to a four-year term. There is also a City Council that is appointed by the mayor.

State

Most state agencies are based at the Government Center Building with the exception of the Corporación del Seguro del Estado (State Insurance Agency) and the Centro de Servicios al Conductor (Driver's Services Center). Most state agencies left their offices after the Senatorial District was taken away from Aguadilla.

Security

Aguadilla has its own police department, Policía Municipal Aguadilla (Aguadilla City Police Department), located in Aguadilla Pueblo. The A.C.P.D. only has jurisdiction in the municipality of Aguadilla and provide service and protection to local citizens and travelers alike.

Aguadilla also hosts the Puerto Rico Police Department Command for the its Region. This region covers Aguada, Aguadilla, Isabela, Mocamarker, Rincónmarker and San Sebastián. It also hosts the PRPD Highway Patrol Division for its region, the FURA Division of the PRPD, the US Army Reserve Center, PR National Guard, and the Border Patrol. Its also serve by another PRPD station in San Antonio Village (Precinct 203 Ramey-San Antonio).

Projects

Current

  • Courtyard by Marriott Aguadilla: Now Open
  • Constructing a 5-story building called "Plaza Mercado" on the same site as the old "Plaza Mercado" (under construction)
  • Electronic Library - Downtown Branch (under construction)(inauguration will be held in July, 2009).
  • Renovations to Luis A.marker Canera Marquez Stadiummarker (undergoing)
  • "Paseo Real Marina" a new boardwalk along Aguadilla Bay (under construction)
  • Renovations the beautiful Las Cascadas Water Park (Undergoing)


Future

  • Upgrade downtown Aguadilla by putting power lines underground
  • New expressway (an extension of existent PR-22 from Hatillomarker)
  • A National Cemetery


Economy



Business

The retail sector has flourished with the building of the Aguadilla Mall along with Aguadilla Shopping Center, Aguadilla Town Center, Plaza Ferram, and Plaza Victoria. There are also stores on the downtown area.

Major banks are represented in Aguadilla. These include the Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Citi bank, Banco Santander, Scotiabank, Westernbank and EuroBancshares, Inc.

Industrial

Aguadilla was once primarily a fishing village, but has changed with the times. Although there is still a great deal of commercial fishing in Aguadilla, the city is now also home to a variety of industrial plants ranging from Tyco, LifeScan, Symmetricom and Hewlett Packard at San Antonio Technological Park. These industrial plants have drastically increased the income per capita of Aguadilla, giving rise to a robust middle class and upper-middle class, by Puerto Rican standards.

Aguadilla has two other industrial sites: Montaña Industrial Park and Camaseyes. Suiza Dairy, Micron Technology and Productos La Aguadillana are located in Camaseyes. While the Puerto Rico State Police Academy, Automeca Technical College, and another branch of Hewlett Packard are located in Montaña.

Communication

King Face Public Transportation Terminal

Radio

  • WABAmarker WABA La Grande 850AM is located in Aguadilla.
  • WUNA-AM better known as Radio Una 1240AM is located in Aguadilla


Television



Transportation

Air

Rafael Hernández Airportmarker

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 Hatillomarker and it will probably end at Puerto Rico Highway 111.

Public

King Face Public Transportation Terminal

Tourism

Aguadilla is part of "Porta del Sol", as the west coast is now publicize by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

Local tourism has been boosted by the creation of the water park "Las Cascadasmarker" (the waterfalls), and the Caribbean's only ice skating complex (the Aguadilla Ice Skating Arenamarker).

Aguadilla is most famous for its world class surfing beaches. Aguadilla's beaches, being the most numerous of all other municipalities, host a variety of amateur and professional surfing events every year. They have also hosted a variety of championships, including the ISA world championships in 1968 and 1988. Famous surfing spots in Aguadilla include "Surfer's Beach", "Table Tops", "Gas Chamber", "Las Ruinas", and "Survival".

Landmarks and Places of Interest

Aguadilla City Hall
Banyan Treehouse
Campanitas de Cristal Fountain
Cathedral San Carlos
Columbus Cross
  • 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
Fisherman's Monument
Jardin del Atlántico Sq.
  • 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
Punta Borinquen Lighthouse
Punta Borinquen Lighthouse Ruins
Rafael Hernández Monument
  • 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 Leon Park
Old Courthouse
Board Walk
Crash Boat Beach
Wilderness Beach

Beaches

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


Festivals and Events

  • Velorio de Reyes (Three Kings Watch)- January
  • Festival de la Chiringa (Kite Festival) - April
  • Fiestas San Antonio - April
  • Verbena de Corrales - May
  • Festival Playero (Beach Festival) - June
  • Festival del Atún (Tuna Festival) - July
  • Festival de la Música (Music Festival) - July
  • Fiestas Patronales San Carlos (Patron Celebration) - October


Mayors

# Mayor Term Party Notes
1st Adrián del Valle 1899 - 1903 None
2nd José Monserrate Deliz 1903 – 1905 None
3rd Luis A. Torregrosa 1905 – 1907 None
4th José Francisco Estévez 1907 – 1911 None
5th Ramón Añeses Morell 1911 – 1933 None
6th Wenceslao Herrera Alfonso 1933 - 1941 None
7th José Badillo Nieves 1941 – 1945 None
8th Rodolfo Acevedo 1945 None
9th Fernando Milán 1945 – 1949 None
10th Rafael Cabán Peña 1949 – 1953 None
11th Rafael A. Guntín López 1953 – 1957 None
12th Herminio Blás 1957 None
13th José Acevedo Álvarez 1957 – 1969 None
14th Emilio Cerezo Muñoz 1969 – 1973 NPP
15th Conchita Igartúa de Suárez 1973 – 1977 PDP
16th Joaquín Acevedo Moreno 1977 – 1981 NPP
17th Alfredo González Pérez 1981 – 1987 PDP
18th Gustavo Herrera López 1987 – 1988 PDP Interim
19th Ramón Calero Bermúdez 1988 – 1996 NPP Pass away on 1996
20th Agnes Bermúdez Acevedo 1996 – 1997 NPP Interim
21st Carlos Méndez Martínez 1997 – Present NPP Incumbent; fourth term


Education

Aguadilla is home to 16 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, and 3 high schools. Mostly owned & operated by the Puerto Rico Department of Education. It also hosts the Head Start Program for Aguadilla, Aguadamarker, Mocamarker, Rincónmarker, and San Sebastián and a number of private institutions.

Higher Education

Aguadilla hosts the following universities: The US Job Corps - Aguadilla Chapter also serves those who want to attain a higher education.

Aguadilla Library System

There is an existent library in San Antonio Village and another one under construction in Downtown Aguadilla.

Health

There are two major medical facilities in Aguadilla.
  • Hospital Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan Hospital)
  • Aguadilla Medical Services


There are also a number of private doctor's offices.

Sports

The Aguadilla Divas of the Female Superior Volleyball League play their home games in the Luis T.marker Diaz Coliseummarker in Downtown Aguadilla from January to March. Also in Aguadilla is Parque Colón and the Aguadilla Sharks of the Superior Baseball League (Double-A) plays its home games at Luis A.marker Canera Marquez Stadiummarker from February to May.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. Also there are plans for a Miami Dolphins NFL Exhibition game to be held at the Luis A. Canera Marquez Stadium.

Club League Sport Venue
Aguadilla Sharks Superior Baseball League Baseball Luis A.marker Canera Marquez Stadiummarker
Aguadilla Divas Female Superior Volleyball League Volleyball Luis T.marker Diaz Coliseummarker


References

  1. Dennis C.Smith-Antilles 1995
  2. La Tragedia del 7 de noviembre de 1944 (The Tragedy of November 7, 1944) by Haydee E. Reichard de Cancio, El Nuevo Dia, Por Dentro Section, Pg. 116, December 7, 1996, retrieved on July 31, 2006
  3. http://welcome.topuertorico.org/maps/aguadilla.pdf


External links




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