The city known as “the criollo city” or “the heart of Boriquén” is located at the easternmost end of the Central Range. Caguas is also known as the “city of the Turabo” because it is spread out along the Turabo River valley. The city has an area of 58.7 square miles (152.1 square kilometers). According to the 2000 census, there are 140,502 cagüeños living in eleven wards: Bairoa, Beatriz, Borinquen, Caguas Pueblo, Cañabón, Cañaboncito, Río Cañas, San Antonio, San Salvador, Tomás de Castro, and Turabo.
Today Caguas is a major industrial and commercial center with more that 40 factories where plastic, clothing, leather goods, tobacco products, cameras, electronics, and other articles are manufactured. The city also is a tourist and ecological center, notably having inaugurated a botanical and cultural garden, part of the revitalization program for the traditional town center, where there are several sites and museums of interest for visitors.
The municipality is located in the central eastern part of the island in the geographical subregion called the Caguas or the Turabo River valley. It is bordered on the north by San Juan and Trujillo Alto; on the south by Cayey and San Lorenzo; on the east by Gurabo and San Lorenzo; and on the west by Aguas Buenas, Cidra and Cayey. The climate is a humid tropical climate, although there is less rain than in the eastern coastal valleys. The land, however, is fertile and deep.
As a valley city, the municipality is surrounded by hills and mountains. The Cayey Ridge runs along the south (San Salvador, Borinquen, Beatriz, and Tomás de Castro wards). To the west, there are branches of the Central Range (Beatriz, Cañaboncito, Cañabón, Río Cañas, and Bairoa wards). TheHato Nuevo ridge reaches into the north (San Antonio ward). The Altos de la Mesa 1,210 feets (368.80) and Altos de San Luis 820 feets (249.93 meters) elevations are located in Bairoa ward. Caguas shares its highest elevations with the municipality of Cayey, Cerro Lucero with an elevation of 2,887 feets (879.95) and Cerro Las Piñas at 2,440 feets (743.71)exactly on the municipal border.
In terms of hydrography, Caguas is bathed by the Grande de Loíza, Quebradillas, Turabo, Caguitas, Bairoa, Cañaboncito, and Cañas rivers. Several minor streams are also part of the hydrographic system, including Arenas, El Cangle, Janer, Las Bambúes, Maracay, Morena, Naranjito, Beatriz, Sonadora, de las Quebradillas, del Horno, Algarrobo, and Prieta brooks. Part of the Carraízo Reservoir is located in this municipality.
Caguas has sizable limestone and kaolin deposits and a small amount of copper.
This municipality owes its name to the Cacique Caguax who lived near the confluence of the Turabo and Grande de Loíza rivers. In Spanish colonial times the cacique was converted to Christianity and did not fight against the conquerors.
The first colonial settlements in the Caguas valley were on the banks of the Turabo River. During the early years of Spanish colonization there were two settlements: San Sebastián del Barrero and Dulce Nombre de Jesús del Piñal. In 1626, a royal decree was issued granting the Caguas valley to Sebastián Delgado de Rivera for the purpose of establishing a cattle ranch. At that time the territory included the present-day municipalities of Caguas, Aguas Buenas, Gurabo, Juncos, Las Piedras, and a part of San Lorenzo. Sebastián Delgado established his residence in El Barrero, where there was high quality clay suitable for pottery. The San Sebastián del Barrero hermitage was erected on this site.
Another hermitage was erected in 1729 at a point called Aldea del Piñal. The temple, at a site that today is part of Gurabo, was named Dulce Nombre de Jesús del Piñal (Sweet Name of Jesus of Piñal). Soon the settlement became the largest in the Caguas valley. There was a government house, a parish house, a jail, a corral, a cockfighting pit, and a general store. Migration began towards the east where the present-day municipalities of Las Piedras and San Lorenzo are located.
Nature conspired against the Ermita del Dulce Nombre de Jesús del Piñal, as it was destroyed in 1738 during the San Leoncio hurricane, and although it was rebuilt, it was once again destroyed by hurricane; San Agustín in 1772. Thus, by the 1770s the settlers abandoned this temple and returned to the older San Sebastián del Barrero hermitage, which in spite of the hurricanesm is still standing. Once the settlers returned to San Sebastián del Barrero, they asked Governor Miguel de Muesas to declare it a town. The date of this event is uncertain, but it is frequently mentioned as 1775. The answer to the petition probably took about four years and coincided with the change of the name of the hermitage, which became Dulce Nombre de Jesús de Caguas. This change was a reflection of the settlers’ wish to preserve the memory of this settlement at Aldea del Piñal.
In 1776, Friar Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra described Caguas as a:
“place where there were about five houses; and another 131 populated by 640 souls spread out along the vast territory that lies between Río Piedras, Loíza, Las Piedras, and Coamo, which is almost all uncultivated, although being of excellent quality and producing an abundance of tobacco, cotton, coffee, sugarcane, rice, and whatever they grow, because the land is naturally rich, well irrigated, of a good temperature and well suited for agriculture.”
Two years later, the town had quite another appearance. There were twelve streets and four alleys, the principal of which were Comercio, Rosario, Turabo, Alonso, Candelaria, and Sanz streets.
Social life in the 1820s was slow. People came to town to go to Mass, for weddings and baptisms, and for cockfights. The municipal wards were Agua Buena, Bairoa, Barra, Jagüeyes, Culebra, Cañabón, Cañaboncito, El Troche, Lima, Mesa Quebrada, Pierno, Río Cañas, Sumidero, Tomás de Castro, Turabo, and Vega. Two years later Beatriz and Barrero wards were added to the list, and later on Borinquen and San Salvador wards. Barra, Jaguar, and San Antonio wards emerged towards the end of the 19th century.
Once Caguas became a municipality, housing improved and the streets were widened. The urban area at that time included Rosario (now Ruiz Belvis), La Candelaria (now Padilla el Caribe), Agricultura (now Don Rufo), Acosta (unchanged), Luchana (now Carpio Alonso), Sol (now Padial), Turabo, (now Gautier Benítez), and Palma (now Jiménez Sicardó) streets.
The flag has a blue field adorned with golden arrows in an X with the coat of arms at the center. This kind of cross is called the Cross of Saint Andrew, representing San Sebastián del Barrero, the first Christian settlement in Caguas established next to the hermitage of the same name.
Coat of Arms
The figures on the coat of arms symbolize antiquity and the indigenous and Christian origins of the city. There is a Taino crown on the upper part, symbolizing Cacique Caguax and his village in the Turabo River valley. At the center, their are six arrows arranged like the Cross of St. Andrew. These arrows, which were the offensive weapons of the Tainos, represent the conversion to Christianity by the cacique and the first Spanish settlement, San Sebastián del Barrero. In heraldry, arrows represent Saint Sebastian, because they were the instrument of his martyrdom. The arrows are surrounded by pineapples, symbolizing the second Christian settlement of the region, the village of Dulce Nombre de Jesús del Piñal. The coat of arms is crowned by a five-turreted castle, which is the symbol of cities.
Places of Interest
• Víctor Torres Lizardi Amphitheater
• Santa Catalina Plantation
• Jorge F. Sotomayor del Toro Natural Protected Reserve
• Biennial of Concrete Sculpture
• Home of the composer Héctor Flores Osuna
• Casa Rosada (Abelardo Díaz Alfaro)
• Casa del Trovador Luis Miranda “Pico de Oro”
• Sweet Name of Jesus Cathedral
• Angel O. Berrios Center for the Arts
• José Ignacio Quintón Criollo Music Center
• Eco-Plaza Borinquen
• José Gautier Benítez School
• Cofresí Plantation
• Hacienda Country Club
• Caguas Botanical and Cultural Garden (Hacienda San José)
• Monument to Luis Muñoz Marín
• Monument to Ramón Emeterio Betances
• Monument to Indigenous Women
• Monument to Puerto Rican Soldiers
• Monument to African Heritage
• Caguas Art Museum (Dr. Concha Meléndez “Casa Amarilla”)
• Carlos Manuel (Charlie) Rodríguez Museum
• Caguas Museum (at City Hall)
• Tobacco Museum (Herminio Torres Grillo)
• Caguas Tourism Office (Solá Building where the newspaper La Democracia was published)
• La Asturiana bakery
• Yldefonso Solá Morales baseball park
• Honor al Río Promenade
• Michael A. Marrero Félix Young People’s Square
• Juan Corujo Collazo Square
• Santiago R. Palmer Square (town square)
• Alcázar Theater
• Luis M. Arcelay theater
• The Telegraph Building (Former Spanish government building)
• Turabo Park
• Villa Coquí
Margot Arce de Vázquez – educator and essayist.
Eugenio Astol Busatti – journalist, poet, short-story writer, and essayist.
Abelardo Díaz Alfaro – short-story writer, author of El Josco.
José Gautier Benítez – poet, author of Ausencia.
Concha Meléndez – literary critic, essayist, and educator.
José Mercado – poet, journalist, and humorist.
Juan José Osuna – educator and essayist.
Carlos Manuel (Charlie) Rodríguez – first Puerto Rican to be beatified.
Luis Felipe (La Voz) Rodríguez Quiñones – singer
Yldefonso Solá Morales – Mayor of Caguas (1929 – 1930), senator (1949 – 1969) and delegate to the Constitutional Assembly of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
José Ignacio Quintón – pianist and composer.
Francisco P. Jiménez – poet and journalist.
Héctor Flores Osuna – composer
• Three Kings Festival – January
• Rosario cantado (sung rosary) for the Kings – January
• Beatriz Criollo Fair – February
• Borinquen Criollo Fair – March
• Cañabón Criollo Fair – April
• Festival of the Holy Cross – May
• Criollo Festival – June
• Concert and lighting of the Christmas tree – November
Text taken from enciclopediapr.org
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