The municipality of Las Piedras is known as the “City of Artisans” and its residents are called pedreños orpedrenses. The Virgin of the Immaculate Reception is the patron saint. The municipality’s territory covers 33 square miles (21,120 acres). The population is 34,485. It is divided into the sectors of Las Piedras Pueblo, Boquerón, Tejas, Quebrada Arenas, Ceiba, El Río, Montones, and Collores.
The name Las Piedras refers to huge stones that were produced by a volcanic explosion in the area where the first houses in the settlement were built.
The municipality’s economy was historically based on growing sugar cane, tobacco and fruit trees and raising livestock. Today, the main economic activity is manufacturing.
Las Piedras is the site of the origin of the Humacao River. It is bordered on the north by the municipality of Río Grande, on the east by Naguabo and Humacao, on the west by Juncos and San Lorenzo, and on the south by the municipality of Yabucoa.
Geographically, it is part of the Cayey Range region. In the north are ridges that are part of the Luquillo Range. This includes El Toro peak, which is 1,074 meters (3,253 feet) in elevation and is the highest point in the range. The south portion of the municipality is part of the Cayey Range. The Collores peak, at 369 meters (1,210 feet) in elevation, and El Asomante, which is 270 meters (886 feet) above sea level, are found here.
The municipality’s hydrological system consists of the Gurabo River, which measures approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles) in length and originates in El Río sector, the Humacao River, and the Valenciano River. Smaller streams include the Honda, Rábanos, Arenas and Montones.
Like Arecibo, Las Piedras is home to the “Indian Cave.” Preserved in this cavern are some of the petrogylphs carved by pre-Columbian inhabitants of the site.
During the 18th century, the territory that we now today as Las Piedras was a small settlement known as Ribera de Las Piedras. It was located on top of the mountains at the source of the Humacao River. The small nucleus of the settlement consisted of a church and three houses. The residents, who numbered 1,515, lived on both sides of the mountain. One side faced the town of Caguas and the other faced the town of Humacao. The settlement formed part of the so-called Hato Grande of the Delgado family, which was granted in 1626 by royal order to Sebastián Delgado de Rivera. It covered the area that is today the municipalities of Las Piedras, Caguas, Gurabo and part of San Lorenzo, Juncos and Aguas Buenas. It is believed that the name Las Piedras came from the quantity of enormous rocks found on the hill where it was founded.
By the end of the 18th century, Las Piedras’ parish had jurisdiction over all of the territory from Caguas to Humacao. According to historians, the first documentation referring to the population of the Ribera de Las Piedras is from the year 1773, when Brother Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra visited Puerto Rico.
In 1797, an order by the civil government and the church caused the parish to be moved to the Juncos sector. The residents of Las Piedras asked the government to allow construction and creation of a new parish church on the site of the old one. The petition was granted once the residents committed to donating 16 cuerdas of land for the development of the town, paying for the decoration of the temple and gathering 325 pesos a year to pay the priest and the sacristan.
In 1801, the town of Las Piedras was founded and construction of the new parish church, devoted to Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, was begun. In 1827, residents began an effort to buy land and build a Kings House. In 1868, the process of restoring the Kings House was undertaken. It had been destroyed by a storm in 1825, along with the church and the church archives.
Las Piedras was originally divided into the sectors of Las Piedras Pueblo, Río, Montones and Tejas. By 1878, those sectors had been subdivided and the municipality then consisted of the sectors of Pueblo, Río, Boquerón, Collores, Montones, Tejas, Quebrada Arenas and Ceiba. Las Piedras maintained those same divisions until 1898.
On September 12, 1898, Las Piedras was occupied by troops of the United States Army. Because of the precarious economic condition of the town, Las Piedras became part of the municipality of Humacao from 1899 until 1914, when its independence was restored. In 1948, the Puerto Rico Planning Board decided to expand the urban zone of the municipality. The Collores, Montones, Quebrada Arenas and Tejas sectors were annexed to the urban zone of Las Piedras.
During the 1970s, two thirds of the agricultural land of Las Piedras (14,300 cuerdas or 13,888 acres) was dedicated to pasture for cattle and 26 percent (5,300 cuerdas or 5,148 acres) was dedicated to growing crops. Sugar cane was produced almost entirely in the land of the valley, while food crops were grown in the mountainous area. In the central part of the plain in that era 350 cuerdas (340 acres) were planted in pineapples and 100 cuerdas in guava trees. Tobacco was planted mainly on 125 cuerdas (121 acres) in the southern part of the municipality. The municipality’s economy also included more than twenty manufacturing industries producing toothpicks, textiles, clothing, children’s products, electronic terminals, chemical products, feed for livestock, construction materials, shoes, cardboard tubes, watch faces, winter clothing, hair barrettes, floral arrangements, and other products.
Today, the dominant industries are manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. Agriculture has declined considerably, although there are still 130 farms that produce flour and raise livestock.
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms has a silver field with the blue monogram of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, to whom Las Piedras parish church is devoted. In the green border are seven silver stones and, in the bottom at the point, a gold Taino sun called the “Sun of Las Piedras.” The silver stones on the green background represent the rocks scattered around the region that gave the municipality its name. The Taino sun is a stylized version of an indigenous petroglyph in the Indian Cave. The figure alludes to the original inhabitants of the site.
Places of Interest
• El Monte del Retiro
• Indian Cave
• Las Piedras Historical Museum
• Francisco Negrón Park
• Artisans Way
• Juan Rosa Martínez Plaza
Miguel Hernández Agosto – Distinguished politician, educator, farmer, lawyer and senator.
Silvia Ricardo – Judge
María Elena Gómez – Judge
Carmen Benítez – Distinguished educator and civic activist
Modesto Velázquez Flores- Prosecutor
José R. Camacho – Radio announcer
Eugenio López – Rancher and boxer
Víctor Torres – Historian and journalist
Zenón Hernández – Writer and poet
Güiro Festival – March
Folk Culture Festival – April
Cross Festival – May
Youth Festival – July
Folk Festival – September
Roast Pig Festival – November
Patron Saint Festival – December
Text taken from enciclopediapr.org
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