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San Juan ( , , from San Juan Bautista "Saint John the Baptist") is the capital and largest municipality in Puerto Rico. As of the 2000 census, it has a population of 433,733, making it the 42nd-largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States. San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, who called it Ciudad de Puerto Rico ("Rich Port City"). Puerto Rico's capital is the second oldest European-established city in the Americas, after Santo Domingomarker, in the Dominican Republicmarker. Several historical buildings are located in San Juan; among the most notable are the city's former defensive forts, Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristobál, and La Fortalezamarker, the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the Americas.

Today, San Juan serves as one of Puerto Rico's most important seaport, and is the island's manufacturing, financial, cultural, and tourism center. The population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area, including San Juan and the municipalities of Bayamónmarker, Guaynabomarker, Catañomarker, Canóvanasmarker, Caguasmarker, Toa Altamarker, Toa Bajamarker, Carolinamarker and Trujillo Altomarker, is about 2 million inhabitants; thus, about half the population of Puerto Rico now lives and works in this area. San Juan is also a principal city of the San Juan-Caguas-Fajardo Combined Statistical Area. The city has been the host of numerous important events within the sports community, including the 1979 Pan American Games, 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics and the Caribbean Series.

Originally, the city of San Juan was called Puerto Rico meaning "rich port", and the entire island was called San Juan. The capital and the island's names were later accidentally switched.


Ruins of Juan Ponce de Leon's residence at Caparra

In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement Caparra (named after the province Caceresmarker, Spain, the birthplace of then-governor of Spain's Caribbean territories Nicolás de Ovando), which today is known as the Pueblo Viejo sector of Guaynabomarker, just to the west of the present San Juan metropolitan area. A year later, the settlement was moved to a site then called Puerto Rico, Spanish for "rich port" or "good port", after its similar geographical features to the island of Gran Canariamarker in the Canary Islandsmarker. In 1521, the newer settlement was given its formal name, San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, in honor of John the Baptist, following the tradition of christening the town with both its formal name and the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island.

The ambiguous use of San Juan Bautista and Puerto Rico for calling both the city and the island led to a reversal in practical use by most inhabitants: by 1746, the name for the city (Puerto Rico) had become that of the entire island, while the name for the Island (San Juan Bautista) had become the name for the city.

San Juan, as a settlement of the Spanish Empire, was used by merchant and military ships traveling from Spain as the first stopover in the Americas. Because of its prominence in the Caribbean, a network of fortifications was built to protect the transports of gold and silver from the New World to Europe. Because of the rich transports, San Juan became a target of the foreign powers of the time.

The city was witness to attacks from the English led by Sir Francis Drake in 1595 (in what is known as the Battle of Puerto Rico) and by George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, in 1598. Artillery from San Juan's fort, El Morromarker, repelled Drake; however, Clifford managed to land troops and lay siege to the city. After a few months of British occupation, Clifford was forced to abandon the siege when his troops began to suffer from exhaustion and sickness. In 1625 the city was sacked by Dutchmarker forces lead by Boudewijn Hendricksz, but El Morro withstood the assault and was not taken. The English attacked again in 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, led by Sir Ralph Abercromby (who had just conquered Trinidadmarker). His army laid siege to the city but was forced to withdraw in defeat as the Puerto Rican defenses proved more resilient than those of Trinidad. Various events and circumstances, including liberalized commerce with Spain, the opening of the island to immigrants as a direct result of the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815, and the colonial revolutions, led to an expansion of San Juan and other Puerto Rican settlements in the late 18th and early 19th century.

In May 1898, United States Navy ships, among them the , , , , and , commanded by Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, bombed San Juan during the Spanish-American War, though the city was not occupied. On July 25, General Nelson A. Miles landed at Guánicamarker (in southwestern Puerto Rico) with 3,300 soldiers in what was known as the Puerto Rico Campaign. The American troops found some resistence and engaged the Spanish and Puerto Rican troops in battle, the most notable of these the Battles of Yauco and Asomante. All military actions in Puerto Rico were suspended August 13, 1898, after President William McKinley and French Ambassador Jules Cambon, acting on behalf of the Spanish government, signed an armistice. Spain ceded the island to the United States later the same year by signing the Treaty of Paris.
Lieutenant Teofilo Marxuach
Camp Las Casas, located in the district of Santurce, served as the main training camp for the Puerto Rican soldiers prior to World War I and World War II; the majority of the men trained in this facility were assigned to the "Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry" which was renamed the 65th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army by the Reorganization Act of June 4, 1920. The 65th Infantry was deactivated in 1956 and became the only unit ever to be transferred from an active Army component to the Puerto Rico National Guard.

Lieutenant Teofilo Marxuach (Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel), a native of Arroyo, Puerto Ricomarker, was responsible for the first bullet shot by the American military during World War I, when he ordered the "Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry" to open fire on the Odenwald, an armed German supply vessel, when it was trying to force its way out of San Juan's bay. This event occurred on April 6, 1917, the day that the United States declared war on Germany.
Rigau Carrera poses in his plane (1919)
In 1919, Felix Rigau Carrera, "El Aguila de Sabana Grande" (The Eagle from Sabana Grande), the first Hispanic fighter pilot in the United States Marine Corps and first Puerto Rican pilot, became the first native Puerto Rican to fly an aircraft in the island when he flew his Curtiss JN-4 from Las Casas. At the time, the area was used by the military as an air base and it was also Puerto Rico's first commercial airport, and Rigau Carrera was allowed to perform his historic flight from the air field. Camp Las Casas was eventually closed down, and in 1950 a public housing project by the name of Residencial Fray Bartolome de Las Casas was constructed on its former location.

On January 2, 1947, the people of San Juan elected Felisa Rincón de Gautier (also known as Doña Fela) (1897 – 1994) as their mayor. Thus, she became the first woman to be elected as the Mayor of a capital city in any of The Americas. During the Cold War era, she ordered the establishment of the island's first Civil Defense system which was under the directorship of Colonel Gilberto Jose Marxuach (Teofilo's son). Rincón de Gautier served as mayor until January 2, 1969.

The bodies of two nationalists lie on the ground
On October 30, 1950, San Juan was the scene of the San Juan Uprising, one of many uprisings which occurred in various towns and cities in Puerto Rico, by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party against the governments of Puerto Rico and the United States. Among the uprising's main objective was to attack "La Fortalezamarker" (the Governors mansion) and the United States Federal Court House Building in Old San Juan. In accordance to the planned uprising in San Juan, a group of nationalists were supposed to attack simultaneously the gubernatorial mansion La Fortalezamarker, where Puerto Rican governor Luis Muñoz Marín resided, and the United States Federal Court House which is located close to an area called "La Marina" in Old San Juan. La Fortaleza battle, which ensued between the nationalists and the police lasted 15 minutes, and ended when four of the five attackers were killed.


San Juan from space
San Juan is located at , along the north-eastern coast of Puerto Rico. It lies south of the Atlantic Ocean; north of Caguasmarker and Trujillo Altomarker; east of and Guaynabomarker; and west of Carolinamarker. The city occupies an area of 76.93 square miles (199.2 km²), of which, 29.11 square miles (75.4 km²) is water. The majority San Juan's water territory is composed of San Juan Bay and two natural lagoons, the Condado and San José.


Under the Koppen climate classification, San Juan features a Tropical monsoon climate. San Juan enjoys an average temperature of 82 °F (28 °C) during the year, although or higher temperatures are often felt during the summer, especially if the winds come from the south. In the winter, temperatures can drop to the 60s, though the average winter low is . The coldest temperature ever recorded was on March 3, 1957, and the hottest was on October 9, 1981. Rainfall is well-distributed all year, but the months of January, February, and March are the driest. San Juan averages 1289 mm of rain per year. Because San Juan's driest month is just under 60 mm (2.3 in.), it falls under the Tropical monsoon climate category.

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source = Weather Channel


Old San Juan occupies the western end of a rocky islet at the mouth of San Juan Bay. During the 20th century, the main population centers surged well beyond the walls of the old city and onto Puerto Rico's main island, and merged with the existing settlements east and south of Old San Juan. As a result, the city is now composed of a variety of neighborhoods.

Old San Juan

Streets in Old San Juan.

During the Spanish colonial times most of the urban population resided in what is now known as Old San Juan. This sector is located on the western half of a small island called the Isleta de San Juan, which is connected to the mainland by two bridges and a causeway. The small island, which comprises an area of 47 mi² (122 km²), also hosts the working class neighborhood of Puerta de Tierramarker and most of Puerto Rico's central government buildings, including the Commonwealth's Capitolmarker.The main central part of the city is characterized by narrow cobblestone streets and picturesque colonial buildings, some of which date back to the 16th and 17th century. Sections of the old city are surrounded by massive walls and several defensive structures and notable forts. These include the 16th century Fort San Felipe del Morromarker and 17th century Fort San Cristóbalmarker, both part of San Juan National Historic Sitemarker, and the 16th century El Palacio de Santa Catalinamarker, also known as La Fortalezamarker, which serves as the governor's mansion. Other buildings of interest predating the 20th century are the Ayuntamiento or Alcaldía (City Hall), the Diputación Provincial and the Real Intendencia buildings, which currently house the Puerto Rico Department of State , the Casa Rosa, the San José Churchmarker (1523) and the adjacent Hotel El Conventomarker, the former house of the Ponce de León family known as Casa Blanca, the Teatro Tapiamarker, the former Spanish barracks (now Museum of Ballajá), La Princesa (former municipal jail, now headquartering the Puerto Rico Tourism Company), and the municipal cemetery of Santa María Madgalena de Pazzis, located just outside the city walls. The Cathedral of San Juan Bautistamarker (construction began in the 1520s) is also located in Old San Juan, and contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer and settlement founder Juan Ponce de León. Old San Juan, also known as the "old city", is the main cultural tourist attraction in Puerto Rico; its bayside is lined by dock slips for large cruise ships.Italic text


The Central Business District as viewed from Ocean Park.

San Juan is subdivided into 18 districts, 16 of which fall within the former (until 1951) municipio of Río Piedras. Eight districts are further subdivided in to sectors, including both districts of the former municipio of San Juan.

East of Old San Juan lies the upscale tourist oriented neighborhood of Condadomarker, which occupies land that used to be owned by entrepreneur Pablo Ubarri Capetillo, a Spanish railroad developer and Count of San José de Santurce under the Spanish colonial period.Beaches such as nearby Ocean Parkmarker, popular with swimmers, surfers and kitesurfers, are found all along the district's Atlantic coastline which is also the locus of numerous hotels.

Near Condado are two separate business districts, Santurce and Miramarmarker.Miramar is mainly a residential area rising south of the Condado Lagoon. It comprises the former barrio of Miraflores, as well as drained marshland and landfill over which was built San Juan's first airport, the Isla Grande airport, which was renamed Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airportmarker in honor of Major Fernando Luis Ribas-Dominicci (USAF).Miramar now hosts the Puerto Rico Convention Centermarker as well as some of San Juan Harbor's cruise ship piers.In 2005 Miramar was designated an historical district of Puerto Rico.

Santurce, originally named San Mateo de Cangrejos(Saint Matthew of the Crabs), was a settlement for freed African slaves during the early days of the city. After Pablo Ubarri sought permission to link San Juan with Río Piedra proper via steam tramway in 1878, the time it took to travel between both points were shortened and thereby stimulated the colonization and growth of the district. At the beginning of the twentieth century an electric trolley was installed, the township was split into three parts, and its main settlement, merged with the city, was renamed using the Spanish spelling of Santurtzimarker (Saint George in Basque), Ubarri's birthplace in Vizcaya, Spain.The "Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico" (Puerto Rico Museum of Artmarker) and other important cultural venues are located in Santurce.
Looking down an Old San Juan street towards the bay
South of Santurce is Hato Rey, part of the former municipality of Río Piedras. Hato Rey was grazing ground for cattle owned by the royal government (hence its name, the King's Herdin Spanish) as early as the 16th century, and is now considered the financial center of the island. A section of this district is often referred to as the "Golden Mile" (actually long) due in part to the many banks and businesses located there.

In the southern part of the city is the socially diversified community of Río Piedras. Founded in the mid 1850s, Río Piedras was a separate town which hosted sugar cane plantations and the estates of some of San Juan's wealthiest inhabitants (as well as their working class staff). The Spanish colonial governors also had their summer home there on land which eventually gave way to the main campus of the University of Puerto Rico. In 1951 the municipalities of San Juan and Río Piedras were merged to redefine San Juan's current city limits. Today Río Piedras comprises the largest area of the municipality of San Juan. and is home to the renowned, traditional "Plaza del Mercado" (Río Piedras Marketplace), the main campus and the Medical Sciences campus of the University of Puerto Rico and the San Juan Botanical Gardenmarker.


  1. Caimito
  2. Cupey
  3. El Cinco
  4. Gobernador Piñero
  5. Hato Rey Central
  6. Hato Rey Norte

  1. Hato Rey Sur
  2. Monacillo
  3. Monacillo Urbano
  4. Oriente
  5. Pueblo
  6. Quebrada Arenas

  1. Sabana Llana Norte
  2. Sabana Llana Sur
  3. San Juan Antiguo
  4. Santurce
  5. Tortugo
  6. Universidad

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