Located on the northwest end of Puerto Rico and measuring 92.12 square kilometers (35.57 square miles), Aguadilla is known popularly as the “city of springs.” The nickname comes from the spring or Río Chiquito, known today as the Parterre. Aguadilla is also known as the “town of sharks,” the “new garden of the Atlantic” and the place where “even the stones sing.” According to the 2000 census, there are 64,685 Aguadillanos living in Aguacate, Aguadilla Pueblo, Arenales, Borinquen, Caimital Alto, Caimital Bajo, Camaceyes, Corrales, Ceiba Alta, Ceiba Baja, Guerrero, Maleza Alta, Maleza Baja, Montaña, Palmar, and Victoria wards. A town of traditions, Aguadilla celebrates a festival in honor of its patron saint, Saint Charles Borromeo, in November.
The economy of the town today is based on pharmaceuticals, rubber, plastics, leather, textiles, metals, wood, electronic equipment and food processing. The town’s beaches are also known for their beauty and are frequented by surfers, divers and kayakers. The town has a golf course at Punta Borinquen, an inn and tourist resort, and an art museum.
Aguadilla is located on the northwest coast of the island. It is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean and Isabela; on the south by Moca and Aguada; on the east by Isabela and Moca; and on the west, once again by the Atlantic Ocean. The largely flat terrain geographically is part of the northern coastal plains. Forestry resources include the Maleza Alta mangrove area, where there are black and white mangroves, providing a habitat for numerous species.
There is a slightly elevated ridge known as Jaicoa; the highest points being Mount Jiménez (728 feet or 222 meters) and Mount Viñet (689 feet or 210 meters). Minor elevations include Las Animas, Herrera and El Vigía. The principal coastal features are the Aguadilla harbor and points Borinquen and La Agujereada. The hydrographic system of the area comprises the Culebrinas River, which demarcates Aguadilla from Aguada, the Los Cedros brook, which demarcates the municipality from Isabela to the northeast, and a main irrigation channel that runs from Lake Guajataca up to the Ojo de Agua (Rio Chiquito), which today is known as El Parterre.
The name Aguadilla comes from the native word guadilla or guadiya meaning garden. Other sources argue that the name is the diminutive of aguada (place for taking water), also a neighboring town to which Aguadilla belonged until 1775. Although that was the date on which approval was granted for founding the town, according to Agustín Stahl in his work Fundación de Aguadilla, it was not until 1780 that the territory was separated and the official founding took place. At first the territory called Aguadilla included what are today Victoria and Higüey wards. In 1797, André Pierre Ledrú, a French naturalist, described the place as having a population of “about 1,321 souls…”
By 1831, Aguadilla already comprised Aguacates, Arenales, Ceiba Alta, Ceiba Baja, Camaceyes, Dos Palmas, Borinquen, Higüey, Corrales, Montaña, Malezas, Mangual, Plainela, Pueblo Norte, Pueblo Sur, and Vitoria wards. Ships from Mexico and the Greater Antilles frequently called at its port. In 1860, Queen Elizabeth II of Spain granted the town the title of Leal Villa or Loyal City as a reward for services rendered and the patriotism shown by Aguadilla in the war in Africa. In 1878, Plainela, Higüey, and Mangual wards disappeared, and the name of Vitoria ward was changed to Victoria and Dos Palmas to Palmar. Three new wards were created: Caimital Alto, Caimital Bajo, and Guerrero. In the 1899 census, Higüey Ward reappeared as an urban area and Iglesia, Nuevo, Santa Bárbara, and Tamarindo wards were created. Malezas ward was divided into Malezas Alto and Malezas Bajo.
The Aguadilla flag has two equal horizontal stripes; the upper stripe is blue and the lower is a golden color. The municipal coat of arms is at the center.
Coat of arms
The Aguadilla coat of arms is a rectangle with a base point at the lower center. The field is red and bears four quarters. The upper left quarter bears the famous Ojo de Agua, or spring, with the Jaicoa mountains in the background. The upper left quarter shows a ship similar to those that used to call at the bay; this also alludes to the discovery of Puerto Rico, since it is alleged that Christopher Columbus landed at Aguadilla. The lower left quarter shows a tower rising from the water as a symbol of combat engaged at the La Concepción fort against attacks by corsairs in the 18th and 19th centuries. The lower right quarter shows a five-pointed star alluding to illustrious figures from Aguadilla who have honored the arts, science, letters, the military, and the legislative forum as an expression of light and clarity.
The quarters are surrounded by the title Leal Villa de San Carlos de la Aguadilla, which was granted by Queen Elizabeth II of Spain, in 1860, for services rendered by this town in the war waged by Spain in Africa. The shield is surrounded by green branches alluding to the palms carried by Our Lady of Victory. The coat of arms is crowned with a turreted castle, whose four towers symbolize the designation of Villa, or chartered town.
The red color symbolizes valor, daring, intrepidness, and honor; while blue symbolizes the sea, serenity, and sweetness. Green represents hope, abundance, and freedom; purple represents the dignity of citizens. The gold color is a symbol of prosperity, faith, strength, and steadfastness; while white symbols moderation and kindness.
1775 Juan Bernardo de Sosa, Manuel de Sosa and Antonio López de Segura
1778 Juan Martín Domenech de Arce
1812 José Martín Domenech
1814 Pedro José de la Rosa and Nicolás del Valle
1821 José Manuel Sus and Francisco de Ugarte
1822 Agustín Cabán and Juan Martín Acevedo
1823 Nicolás Cardona
1826 Gil Gómez de Agüero
1836 José A. Mayoral and Nicolás del Valle
1837 Antonio del Valle and José Manuel Sud
1840 Celedonio Flores and Juan de la Rosa
1842 Juan Martín Acevedo
1843 Juan de la Rosa
1845 Jaime Malta and J. Pelijero de Lama
1846 José Joaquín de Minondo
1847 Salvador Casas
1848 Eduardo Casalduc and Pedro A. Perea
1849 José Joaquín de Mionondo
1850 José Jenaro del Valle, Vicente Gulves, Vicente Muñoz Velazco and Antonio Delgado
1851 Manuel de Salazar Mendieta and Antonio Delgado
1852 Celedonio Flores
1853 L. de la Pezuela
1854 Pedro A. Perea
1856 Ramón Méndez Arcaya and Manuel González
1859 Juan Medrano y Soriano, Gaspar de Estrada, Gómez and M. Vidal González
1862 Francisco Juliá
1863 Sebastián La Corte
1865 Ramón Santaella Canal
1866 Francisco Juliá, José F. Camuñas, Jacinto García Pérez and M. Vidal González
1867 D. Rodríguez
1868 Jacinto García Pérez and Tomás de Morales
1869 Franco Berrocal
1870 Miguel Aldecoa, Cayetano Yborti and Ramón Santaella Canal
1871 Franco Berrocal and José Veraly Llamas
1872 Juan Iglesias, Rafael del Valle Ponce and Franco Amell
1873 Pablo Fernández Ruiz
1874 Francisco Juliá y Palmeta
1878 Gonzalo Firpo, Francisco Julia and Jacinto García Pérez
1879 Antonio de Aramburu, Ramón Méndez Arcaya and Francisco Berrocal
1885 Alejandro Madriñán
1886 J. F. Menéndez
1887 Emilio Ibáñez, Julio Osvaldo Abril, C. Badillo and Gonzalo Firpo
1888 Ramón Méndez Arcaya
1889 Francisco Acosta
1893 Ramón E. Martínez
1897 Pedro Rivera, Emilio Ibáñez and Adrián del Valle
1898 Ernesto Rubio, Angel M. Yumet Marín and Eduardo Casalduc
1899 Francisco Mansfield and Adrián del Valle
1903 José Monserrate Déliz
1905 Luis A. Torregrosa
1907 José Francisco Estéves
1911 Ramón Añeses Morell
1933 Wenceslao Herrera Alfonso
1941 José Badillo Nieves
1945 Rodolfo Acevedo López and Fernando Milán
1949 Rafael Cabán Peña
1953 Rafael A. Guntín López
1957 Herminio Blas and José Acevedo Alvarez
1969 Emilio Cerezo Muñoz
1973 Conchita Igartúa de Suárez
1977 Joaquín Acevedo Moreno
1981 Alfredo González Pérez
1987 Gustavo Herrera López
1988 Ramón Calero Bermúdez
1996 Agnes Bermúdez Acevedo
1997 – Currently Carlos Méndez Martínez
Hon. Carlos Méndez-Martínez
Places of Interest
• Aguadilla Ice Skating Arena
• Old sugar dock
• Aguadilla bowling alley
• City Hall
• Stone house –
• Punta Borinquen Lighthouse
• Indian Fountain
• The Fountain of Youth
• Fort La Concepción
• Church of Saint Charles Borromeo
• Lookout point
• Monument to Rafael Hernández
• Monument to Fishermen
• Aguadilla Art Museum
• Las Cascadas water park
• Colón Park
• Parterre spring
• Crash Boat Beach (Aguadilla public beach)
• La Ponderosa beach
• La Poza beach
• Rompeolas beach
• Tamarindo beach
• Wilderness beach
• Surfer Beach
• Fishermen’s Plaza
• Rafael Hernández Town Square
• Punta Borinquen golf course
• Ruins of the old Spanish lighthouse
• Luis Raúl Estévez Skate and Splash park
María Bibiana Benítez y Constanza – considered to be the first woman poet in Puerto Rico, a great aunt of José Gautier-Benítez. Her works include: La ninfa de Puerto Rico (1831), Dialogo alegórico (1858), and La cruz del Morro (1862).
Amalia Ceide – teacher, journalist and poet. She was a member of the Puerto Rico Atheneum and the Puerto Rico Writers Association. Her literary works include Interior (1936), Cuando el cielo sonríe (1946), Agustín Stahl (1969), among others.
José de Diego y Martínez – public speaker, poet, jurist, political figure, attorney, and an ardent defender of independence for Puerto Rico. He was a member of the Chamber of Delegates from 1902 until his death in 1918. In 1907 he became president of that legislative body until the Jones Act, he also presided the new House of Representatives until 1918. De Diego was president of the Puerto Rico Atheneum (1915–16) and the Association of Writers and Artists. He founded the Instituto Universitario José de Diego (1915) and the Academia Antillana de la Lengua (1916), while advocating for Spanish adopted as the language of instruction in the public schools. His works of poetry include Sor Ana (1887), Cantos de rebeldía (1916), Cantos de Pitirre (1950, posthumous) among others.
Monserrate Deliz – educator, writer, and folklorist. Deliz wrote Cantos Infantiles.
Esther Feliciano Mendoza – Doctor of philosophy and teacher, she was distinguished as Woman of Puerto Rico by the Union of American Women in 1983. Among other works, she published Nanas (1945), Arcoiris (1951) and Sinfonía de Puerto Rico (1970), the latter receiving an award from the Instituto de Literatura Puertorriqueña.
Jesús Figueroa – Composer and musician, Figueroa founded a music academy, which he directed until his death. He was awarded the National Prize by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. As a composer of many danzas and zarzuelas, he was renowned for musical works such as Nueva Era, Borinquen, and A Carmen.
Rafael Hernández – the most important Puerto Rican musician and composer of the 20th century. His early work include the songs Pobre Borinquen, El buen borincano, Mamá, Borinquen me llama, and Campanitas de cristal. While living in New York he formed the Trío Borinquen and traveled all over America with hit songs such as Capullito de Alelí and Silencio. In 1934, Hernández organized a quartet by the name of Victoria. The Lamento borincano, a deeply patriotic work, garnered worldwide fame for Hernández.
José de Jesús-Esteves – attorney, poet, and journalist. De Jesús collaborated with periodicals such as Puerto Rico Ilustrado and La Democracia. His works include Besos y plumas, Crisálidas, Ronda de ánforas, Sauce lírico, and Alma adentro.
Carmen Gómez-Tejera – professor and essayist.
Miguel A. García-Méndez – attorney, banker, and political figure. His very active political career included being a member of the House of Representatives from 1928 to 1940; first under the Alianza Puertorriqueña (1928 – 1932), and later, as president of that body, under the Republican Union Party (1933 – 1940). In 1952, he founded the Republican Statehood Party, which he presided until 1968. During that period he represented his party in the Puerto Rico senate. In addition, he was a member of the Constitutional Assembly from 1951 to 1952.
Manuel Méndez-Ballester – writer, journalist, and political figure. Mendez was a member of the House of Representatives from 1962 to 1968. He collaborated with newspapers such as El Nuevo Día. His works include Isla Cerrera (1937), El clamor de los surcos (1938), Tiempo muerto (1940), Encrucijada (1958), Bienvenido Don Goyito (1968), and El Circo (1975), among others.
Ana Roque de Duprey – educator, writer, and feminist. Roque founded the Liceo Ponceño (1901). She wrote Explicaciones de gramática castellana (1889) and Geografía universal (1894), among other works.
Agustín Stahl – botanist, historian and physician. Stahl thoroughly studied the fauna and flora of Puerto Rico, receiving many academic awards abroad. He also created a museum of natural history. Stahl’s published works include Informe sobre la enfermedad de la caña de azúcar (1880), Los indios borincanos (1889), La fecundidad de la mujer en Puerto Rico (1892) and Fundación de Aguadilla (1910).
José Luis Vivas-Maldonado – story writer and historian
• Three Kings’ Day Festival – January
• A night for love in the Atlantic garden – February
• Anniversary of José de Diego – April
• Puerto Rican Kite Festival – April
• Flower and Song for Mothers – May
• Beach Festival – May
• Song and Poetry for Fathers – June
• Placido Acevedo Music Festival – June
• Saint John’s Eve – June
• Festival of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – July
• Municipal Games – October
• Christmas illumination – October
• Aguadilla Harbor Festival (patron saint’s festival) – November
• Festival of the Discovery – November
• Christmas caroling – December
• Christmas parade – December
• Rafael Hernández Music Festival – December
• Homecoming on the town square – last Sunday of the month
Note: These articles have been edited and checked by academics and specialists in History. Discrepancies may exist among historians regarding some data.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 02, 2010.
Images Gallery of Aguadilla
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