Barceloneta, Puerto Rico

The municipality of Barceloneta is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico and has an area of 48.5 square kilometers (18.7 square miles). It is also known as «The Industrial City» and «The Home Town of Sixto Escobar.» The 2000 Census reported a population of 22,322 barcelonetences. The wards currently comprising Barceloneta are Barceloneta Pueblo, Palmas Altas, Garrochales, and Florida Afuera. The Patron Saint is Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the festival in her honor is celebrated in July. Barceloneta is rich in tradition and boasts an extensive literary and musical folklore. Its trovadores and improvisadores (traditional folk singers and improvisers) perform a ten-line verse form called décimas campesinas, religious or patriotic themes being the most popular. The town also has a wealth of stories and legends about apparitions and ghosts.Barceloneta’s economy is centered on the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. It is one of the most industrialized towns on the Island, and has the highest concentration per square mile of this type of industry in the world. In agriculture, Barceloneta is an important pineapple producer.


Barceloneta is located on the north central coast of the Island. It is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the municipality of Florida, on the east by Manatí, and on the west by Arecibo. The northernmost part lies in the region known as the northern coastal plains. The land is largely flat, although there is a hilly area with elevations ranging from 30 to 100 feet (10 and 30 meters) above sea level. The southern part is located in the northern humid hills region, characterized by karst hills, known as haystacks, separated by valleys of widely varying expanse, with elevations ranging from 400 to 800 feet (120 and 240 meters). The southernmost terrain is more rugged, with elevations above 900 feet (275 meters).

The town has several waterways: the Río Grande de Manatí, the Quebrada Cimarrona, and the Tiburones and Matos rivers; all of which flow into the Atlantic. Coastal features include the Palmas Altas Promontory and the Tres Hermanas keys.

According to Marcelino Canino, Barceloneta was named by Governor Eulogio Despujols when he approved the creation of the town in 1881. He chose the name because both he and Bonocio Llenza Feliú, a forceful promoter of the municipality’s founding, were of Catalonian origin, Barceloneta being the Catalonian diminutive of Barcelona. There were numerous landowners and businessmen from Catalonia living in the region, so it is quite likely that this name was widely supported.

The town’s origins are linked to the demarcation of land from the neighboring municipalities of Manatí and Arecibo. In the last third of the 19th century, these neighboring towns requested the founding of a town that could meet their growing needs. In 1881, the commands of the military district authorized the founding of Barceloneta with an initial demarcation from wards of Manatí. The wards that comprised the new town were Florida Adentro, Manatí Abajo, Palmas Altas, Florida Afuera, and Garrochales. In 1897, the border with Arecibo was traced, enabling improvements to property tax assessment in Barceloneta.

During the ensuing years the economy continued to develop favorably, particularly in the agricultural sector. By 1894 there were five public schools with an enrollment of 255 students. In the first decade of the 20th century, Barceloneta had three sugar cane plantations, 93 coffee farms, and 100 produce farms. At the same time, a church, a parish house, the King’s House, and a meat market were built. When the Plazuela sugar mill was founded (subsequently the Plazuela Sugar Company), the sugar industry became the town’s primary source of employment. Despite this prosperity, in 1900 Barceloneta once again became a ward of Manatí. Eleven years later, a «Junta Libertaria» (Libertarian Assembly) demanded the restitution of Barceloneta as a municipality.


The flag  of this municipality was created by Municipal Ordinance 21, passed on May 31, 1979. It is divided into four quadrants. The first and fourth quadrants evoke the coat of arms of Barcelona, capital of the historic principality of Catalonia, bearing a red cross on a silver field and two red stripes on a gold field. The other two quadrants are blue, alluding to the ocean that lies between the coast of Barcelona and the coast of Barceloneta, while also symbolizing their beaches and ports.

Coat of Arms
Barceloneta’s coat of arms  consists of four quadrants. The first and the fourth quadrants, like the town flag, evoke the coat of arms of the city of Barcelona. The second and third depict three cane flowers, called guajana, on a blue field, symbolizing sugar cane, which was once the town’s principal cash crop. The blue evokes the ocean that separates the coast of Barceloneta from the coast of Barcelona and alludes to their beaches and ports. The coat of arms is crowned by a turreted castle to indicate its status as a municipality. Like the flag, this coat-of-arms was created on May 31, 1979.

Places of Interest
• Old City Hall
• Old Rafael Balseiro Maseira School– built in 1921
• Old Christian and Missionary Alliance Church – built in 1908
• José Ignacio Machado Sports Field
• Sixto Escobar Community Library
• Cambalache State Forest
• City Hall
• Barceloneta Cultural Center – includes an archeological museum
• Juan Cancel Ríos Government Center
• Mount La Catalana
• Sixto Escobar Sports Complex and Auditorium
• Villa Georgetti Sports Complex– includes a motocross track, a BMX track, a scooter track, a «gotcha» court, and a tennis court.
• Pharmaceutical Complex
• Cave of the Tamarind trees
• Río Grande de Manatí Estuary
• Roque Island
• Artificial recreational lake – located behind the City Hall and the multi-use building
• Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Church
• El Ancón Plaza- named for a means of transportation; a small barge-type boat used to cross the Río Grande de Manatí
• Benito de Jesús Plaza
• José Cordero Rosario Plaza
• Sixto Escobar Plaza
• Vicente Acevedo Ballester Plaza
• Las Criollas Beach
• La Palmita Beach
• Puerto de la Vacas Beach
• Ruins of the Plazuela Sugar Mill – sugar mill that became the town’s primary source of economy in the early twentieth century.
• Ernesto Ramos Antonini Theater
• Bonocio Llenza Feliú Hospital

Illustrious Citizens

José Agustín Balseiro – Writer. In 1931, Balseiro was unanimously elected to serve as a member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language. He is the only Puerto Rican that has ever received this honor. Among his work are the following novels: La ruta eterna and En vela mientras el mundo duerme(Awake While the World Sleeps); and poetry: La copa de Anacreonte (Anacreonte’s Goblet), Música cordial (Cordial Music), and La pureza cautiva(Captive Purity).

Juan Cancel Ríos, Esq. – Civil servant. Ríos held the following positions: President of the Municipal Council of Barceloneta (1957–1960), Representative, Manatí-Barceloneta district (1961–1964), district of Arecibo senator (1965-1980), vice-president (1969-1972) and president of the Puerto Rico senate (1973-1976).

Francisco Díaz Marchand, Esq. – Labor leader. Representative for Barceloneta and Manatí (1937-1940 and 1948-1954), author of the álbum histórico y cultural de Barceloneta (Historical and Cultural Album of Barceloneta).

Sixto Escobar Vargas – Escobar discovered his love of boxing at a very young age. During the course of his successful boxing career he fought 92 fights, of which he won 79, lost 12, and tied one. On June 26, 1934, he won the first world lightweight championship for Puerto Rico, and an avenue in Barceloneta was named after him in honor of this event. In 1950, he was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Benito de Jesús Negrón – Composer. Negrón was a member of the following groups: Conjunto Alhoa, Daniel González and his Guitars, and the Trío Vegabajeño (to which he belonged for twenty-four years). For some time he was program director for Rafael Quiñónez Vidal. One of his most notable compositions is «Nuestro Juramento,» which has been recorded in several languages by famous musicians.

Monsignor Tomás Maisonet
 – Maisonet was a priest in Humacao and parish priest in Cidra, Río Grande, and the Cathedral of San Juan. He was special secretary to Archbishop James Peter Davis. He was also a United States Army Chaplain for over three years and a National Guard Chaplain for a considerable length of time.

Blanca María Marchand – Poet known as «the sweetheart of verse».

Colita Mercado de Dimas-Aruti – Journalist and writer, Mercado began her journalistic career in 1925. She held several positions, such as secretary of the American Legion in Puerto Rico and secretary of the League of Women Voters. She was a member of the Academia de Ciencias y Letras in Cadiz, Spain, of the International Academy of Journalism, and of the Institute of Literature in France. In Spain she was declared Gran Dama and received the sash representing the Order of Santa Elena. She wrote the following books: Psicología femenina del matrimonio (Feminine Psychology of Marriage) (which was highly praised by literary critics), El ideal de la vida (The Ideal of Life), Por un mundo mejor (For a Better World), and Modelando una estatua(Modeling a Statue).

Teodoro Moscoso – One of the main innovators of the economic reform movement known as «Operación Manos a la Obra» («Operation Bootsrap»), basis for the island’s industrialization. In 1950, he drafted the bill that was to orchestrate Puerto Rico’s economic development under the Economic Development Administration, of which he became the first administrator. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Moscoso United States ambassador in Venezuela. Subsequently, he directed the Alliance for Progress, the organization that channeled financial aid from the United States to Latin America.

José Antonio «ñin» Pagán – First Puerto Rican to be champion batter in the 1962 World Series when he was playing for the San Francisco Giants; later a Major League and Triple A manager. He won a Caribbean Series as a manager.


• Three Kings Children’s Festival – January
• Posthumous Homage to Plácido Acevedo Sosa (director of the Mayarí Quartet) – last Sunday in February
• Las Criollas Beach Festival – June
• Our Lady of Mount Carmel Patron Saint»s Festival– July
• Sixto Escobar Marathon – July
• Folk Festival – October


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