The history and culture of Mayaguez Puerto Rico make the city a very interesting place to visit. As the third largest city on the island, behind San Juan and Ponce, this West Coast gem offers plenty of activities to enhance any vacation. Here you can find elegant tree-lined plazas, fascinating cultural events, excellent lodgings, and a wide variety of dining options.
Founded September 18, 1760 by Juan de Silva, Juan de Aponte, and brothers Faustino and Lorenzo Martinez de Matos, the new town was named for the Yaguez River that runs through it. The town was granted the right to self-govern in 1763 and quickly became one of the most important areas on the island. Most of the city and port were destroyed by the San Fermín earthquake and accompanying tidal wave that hit in 1918, but a sustained effort by the city has restored many of the buildings to their previous splendor.
A deep-water port makes the city a very attractive place for businesses. Multiple rivers and streams flow through the city from the Central Mountain Range to the Mona Passage. From 1962 to 1998, the city’s tuna processing centers supplied nearly 80% of all the tuna products eaten in the United States. The city’s textile industry supplied about 25% of the U.S. Army’s drill uniforms. It was also a major rum producer with three rum distillers within its borders.
The lovely Spanish-style Plaza Colon is the heart of the city, providing an active cultural center for the citizens of Mayaguez and its surrounding towns. The plaza holds a fountain commemorating Christopher Columbus with a bronze statue in the middle with 16 other bronze statues surrounding the square. The Columbus statue faces City Hall, located on the south side of the plaza. Our Lady of the Candelaria, the city’s principal Roman Catholic Church, is also part of the Plaza.
Other attractions in the city include the Yaguez Theatre, an active performing arts center on McKinley Street that has been designated a historic place, and the Juan A. Rivero Zoo, the only zoo in Puerto Rico. The zoo holds numerous African animals, as well as a butterfly house and an open outdoor bird sanctuary. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Tropical Agriculture Research Station located nearby is a great place to appreciate native plants and trees and see many other interesting species from around the world.
Another impressive place to visit in the city is the local shopping mall, which is the third largest shopping center on the island. Its one million square feet of retail space has a wide selection of American stores along with locally-owned brands and a variety of dining options. American restaurants and traditional Puerto Rican food can be found both inside and outside the mall.
The city is served by the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Airport, with Cape Air providing daily flights from San Juan. To get around the city, there are three free trolleys that run from the Palacio de Recreacion y Deportes to the downtown area.
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