Cataño’s ferry

Cataño’s ferry

Cataño is located on the north coast of Puerto Rico, on the shores of the San Juan harbor. It measures 12.6 square kilometer (5 square miles), which makes it the smallest town in Puerto Rico. The town is known as the “antechamber of the capital,” “the town that refused to die,” “the forgotten town,” “the crab catchers’ town,” and “the ferry-riders’ town.” According to the 2000 census, there are 30,071 catañenses who live in two wards, Cataño Pueblo and Palmas. At present, principal economic activities include refineries, commerce, and rum manufacturing and distribution.

The patron saint’s festival is held in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.


The municipality of Cataño is located on the north coast. The town is bordered on the north and east by the Atlantic Ocean; by Toa Baja on the north and west; and by Guaynabo and Bayamón on the south. The terrain is low-lying and flat as part of the northern coastal plains. Its most important natural resources include the Las Cucharillas Marsh and part of the San Juan harbor. Cataño and Tocones points are located on the northern shore; Goat Island is close to the latter.

Nuestra Señora del Carmen church

Nuestra Señora del Carmen church

Under Governor Francisco Bahamonde de Lugo (1564 -1568) the need arose for the services of a Spanish physician. The person chosen was Hernando de Cataño, who, on accepting the position, was given a lot as well as several caballerías of land facing the islet of San Juan. Thus, the place was named for the owner of the land.

In the mid-19th century a transportation company was founded to move merchandise and passengers across the San Juan harbor. This helped increase the population of Cataño, making it one of the more prosperous wards of Bayamón. By 1893, Bishop Juan Antonio Puig authorized Our Lady of Montserrat parish. Finally, in 1927 Cataño officially became a municipality.

The town was founded due to the efforts of its residents but also because of political maneuvers. In the 1920s, the municipality of Bayamón was headed by a municipal administration whose ideology was contrary to that of the majority that controlled the island’s legislature. The separation of Cataño was authorized as a political strategy to weaken the “enemy,” while satisfying the wishes of certain moneyed sectors. The committee that was charged with drafting the bill was comprised of Leopoldo Figueroa, Luis Guzmán, Pedro Rodríguez, Luis Martínez, John Richmond Coba, Madison K. Fletcher, and Andrés Rodríguez, among others. Thus, the law creating the municipality of Cataño was passed on July 1, 1927, and the town was comprised of Cataño and Palmas wards.



The Cataño flag has nine white and blue horizontal stripes, bearing a horizontal green and white band, which represents the coconut palms on the municipal coat of arms. The band was also used to distinguish the municipal flag from the national colors of Greece and Uruguay.

Coat of arms

The Cataño coat of arms is comprised of nine horizontal stripes, four of which are blue and five of which are silver. The colors were taken from the family coat of arms of Hernando de Cataño, an illustrious physician and nobleman, whose surname is honored in the town’s name. Silver is also the symbol of nobility –while blue is the symbol of royalty, majesty, beauty, and serenity. The coat of arms is crowned with a turreted castle, which is a symbol of the status of municipality. The coat of arms is surrounded by two green palm fronds, alluding to the former name of the municipality, Hato de las Palmas de Cataño.

Modern City Hall

Modern City Hall

1927 Alberto Dávila
1929 Lorenzo Padró Zolamilla
1930 Fernando Boneta
1930 Agustín Espinosa
1933 Antonio Rodríguez
1937 Manuel Betancourt Peña
1945 Rafael San Inocencio
1949 Emilio Matos Ríos
1953 Emilio Rivera Cardona
1961 Manuel Barreto Pérez
1963 Emilio Rivera Cardona
1969 José álvarez Brunet
1986 Guadalupe álvarez Ramos
1987 Edwin Rivera Sierra
2003- 2008 Wilson Soto Molina
2009- José A. Rosario Meléndez

Sunset seen from Cataño`s ferry

Sunset seen from Cataño`s ferry

Hon. José A. Rosario Meléndez

Places of Interest

• Old City Hall
• New City Hall
• Municipal government center
• Horace Mann Elementary School
• Pedro Rodríguez Sálamo Stadium
• Bacardí rum factory
• Seaside
• Monument to our Taíno Roots
• Memorial Monument
• Portside promenade
• Children’s Park (Palmas Ward)
• Juana Matos Recreational Park
• La Esperanza Recreational Park
• Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish
• Seaside promenade (star and ribbons of time obelisk)
• Miguel A. Rovira promenade
• Cataño Pyramid
• Dr. Leopoldo Figueroa residence
• Ferry Terminal
• Fishermen’s village

Illustrious Citizens

María Luisa de Angelis – essayist and journalist

Ileana Colón Carlo – first woman to become Comptroller of Puerto Rico (1987 – 1997).

Rafael Ferrer – physician

Leopoldo Figueroa-Carreras – physician, attorney and political figure (although residing in Cataño, he was from San Juan.) Figueroa was a member of the Chamber of Delegates from 1914 to 1916; House representative from District 4 (1933 – 1944); at large representative from 1949 to 1968; senator at large from 1945 to 1948; and a member of the Constitutional Convention of Puerto Rico (1951 – 1952). A 33rd Degree Mason, in 1928 he published a medical treatise, “Mortalidad infantil”.

Salvador M. de Jesús – story writer

Susana Matos – poet

Rafael Mournier – poet and historian

Dominguito Negrón
 – bomba and plena dancer

Félix Ochoteco
 – attorney and political figure. He was president of the Bar Association and the International Attorneys Conference held in Santiago, Chile. Ochoteco was a representative at-large in the legislature, from 1937 to 1940.

Agustín Pérez 
– attorney and historian

Baldomero Roig-Vélez – attorney and political figure. Representative at large in the Legislature (1957 – 1968)
Julio Rosado del Valle – painter

Isaac del Rosario – first school superintendent in Cataño

Pedro Juan Soto – writer

Plácido Torres – physician

Athletes: Lisa Boscarino, Rossano Boscarino, Pedro (Perucho) Cepeda, Anselmo Martínez, Guillermo Montañez, Manuel Muti, Pedro Rodríguez-Gaya, Luis Sánchez, Gilberto Torres, and Guillermo Vaello


• Distribution of Three Kings’ day presents – January
• Cataño Carnival – April
• Mothers’ day – May
• Fathers’ day – June
• St. John’s Eve – June
• Patron saint’s festival – July
• Cross-harbor swim – July
• Greased pole – July
• Fishermen’s gathering – July
• Chalk Festival – August
• Domingo Apellaniz Marathon – September
• Fair of the Americas – October
• Christmas lights – November
• Poetry and music evening on the Town Square – second Friday of every 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 03, 2010.

Images Gallery of Cataño

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