Isabela, Puerto Rico

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Isabela, Puerto Rico
Municipality
Isabela View from Air, Puerto Rico.png
Flag of Isabela, Puerto Rico
Flag
Coat of arms of Isabela, Puerto Rico
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): El Jardín del Noroeste (The Northwest Garden)
Anthem: "Isabela, permite que me inspire"
Location of Isabela in Puerto Rico
Location of Isabela in Puerto Rico
Coordinates: 18°30′47″N 67°04′12″W / 18.51306°N 67.07000°W / 18.51306; -67.07000Coordinates: 18°30′47″N 67°04′12″W / 18.51306°N 67.07000°W / 18.51306; -67.07000
Country Puerto Rico
Founded 1819
Government
 • Mayor Hon. Carlos Delgado Altieri (PPD)
Area
 • Total 238.15 km2 (91.95 sq mi)
 • Land 143.39 km2 (55.36 sq mi)
 • Water 94.75 km2 (36.58 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 45,631
 • Density 190/km2 (500/sq mi)
Demonym Isabelinos
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
Zip code 00662
Website isabela.com.pr
Isabela Cathedral
Middles Beach, a popular spot for international surfing competitions

Isabela (Spanish pronunciation: [isaˈβela]) is a municipality of Puerto Rico located in the north-western region of the island, north of San Sebastián; west of Quebradillas; and east of Aguadilla and Moca. Isabela is spread over 13 wards and Isabela Pueblo (The downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is a principal city of the Aguadilla-Isabela-San Sebastián Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The town is known as the "Jardín del Noroeste," the "Garden of the Northwest," because of the many wild flowers in its landscape. It is also knowns as el "Pueblo de los Quesitos de Hoja", the "town of Leaf Cheeses," for its production of this typical fresh white cheese wrapped in banana plant leaves, reputed to be the best.[citation needed] It is also known as la Ciudad de los Gallitos or the "City of the Fighting Cocks." Since the 18th century, cock fighting was very common throughout the island, and the town became famous and well known for the quality of its fighting cocks and special breeding and training techniques used by its people.[1]

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

The Taíno chief Mabodamaca, one of the most important chieftains of the Island of Boriken (Taino name for the island of Puerto Rico) during the firsts decades of the 16th century, ruled the region of the 'Guajataca' (Taíno name for the northwestern region of Puerto Rico) where Isabela was originally founded. Although the actual date of the origins of the first Spanish settlement is not precisely known, a small settlement/hermitage is known to have existed by the end of the 17th century or beginning of the 18th century in a great extension of land into what encompass today the municipalities of Isabela, Camuy and Quebradillas. The settlement bordered to the east with the shoreline of the Guajataca River and was located on the grounds of an earlier Taíno settlement.[citation needed]

Around 1725, José Antonio de Mendizábal y Azares (Governor of the Island of Puerto Rico) granted authorization to base a population on the existing hermitage/village. Its given name, San Antonio de La Tuna, derives from the avocation of the Spanish settlers to the saint San Antonio de Padua and in honor of a wild cactus growing in the region (Tuna is the Spanish name for cactus). At the end of the 18th century San Antonio de la Tuna had a church, more than sixty houses, and almost 1,200 inhabitants, which was a considerable population for those times.[citation needed]

Relocation[edit]

Prompted by economic and health factors, the decision to relocate the hermitage to a more favorable location was pursued. Around 1818, the village obtained authorization from then Governor Salvador Meléndez to transfer the population to a new location closer to the coast. . Meléndez approved the transfer request and a new town was founded the following year on May 21, 1819. In this same year the construction of the church began, which finished in 1824. In 1918 the church was damaged during a strong earthquake that affected the western region of the island, it was rebuilt soon after.[citation needed]

Cityscape[edit]

Barrios[edit]

  • Arenales Altos[2]
  • Arenales Bajos
  • Bajuras
  • Bejucos
  • Coto
  • Galateo Alto
  • Galateo Bajo
  • Guayabos
  • Guerrero
  • Isabela Pueblo
  • Jobos
  • Llanadas
  • Mora
  • Planas

Geography[edit]

It could be said that Isabela is a hybrid town of sorts, with the rarity of being a coastline city that has beaches but is also known for its mountains (with peaks of over 1,000 ft [300 m] above sea level), rivers (surface and submarine), lake, caves (surface and submarine), cliffs, coastal flats and forests (Tropical and Mangroves).

Geographically, the municipality of Isabela belongs to the Northern Coastal Plains. Running through the south, the Aymamón mountains, a prolongation of the Jaicoa Mountain Range that begins in the neighboring town of Aguadilla, boasts peaks of over 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level. The most prominent hills that are part of these mountains are La Bandera (Galateo Alto ward) at 1,207 ft (368 m); La Silla (Arenales Alto ward) at 1,106 ft (337 m); El Sombrero (in Galateo Alto) at 1,083 feet (330 m); Indio (Planas ward) at 1,017 feet (310 m); and Monte Encantado (in Arenales Altos) at 919 feet (280 m) of elevation above sea level. The central part of the territory, which consists mostly of flatlands, the mountains does not surpass 656 feet (200 m) of height; the coastline flats (Bajuras), is slightly above sea level.

Tourism[edit]

One of present Isabela's main industries is tourism, because it's a coastal city with several beautiful beaches, outstanding panoramic views and other diverse attractions such as its rainforest, rivers, lake, cordillera mountains, submarine rivers and caves and archaeological sites among others. It is visited by many local tourists as well as those seeking some sun and fun from the United States and other countries.

Landmarks and places of interest[edit]

Economy[edit]

Agriculture[edit]

'Centro Empresarial Playero - Villa Pesquera'

The early economy of the hermitage had been based mainly on cattle ranching, its derivative products and hogs products, but trading was limited because of many factors: its inland location and topography, the settlement was posted above a hill overlooking the river (now river Guajataca) and it made difficult the use of the river as a trading route as did the location's propensity to disease and outbreaks.[citation needed]

After the transfer to the present Isabela the economic realities that resulted from the new land and property opportunities that were readily available, the healthier environment formed due to the wide open plains and prevalent northern winds, and the proximity to the coast and the natural sea port at the bay of 'Punta Sardina' prompted for the diversification of the agricultural products and an increase on trade. The cultivation of sugar cane, coffee, tobacco, cotton, yuca, coconuts and fruits was stimulated further, Isabela has continued to flourish until recent years with the island's economic crisis, the closing of important factories, and the rising crime rate.

Industry[edit]

Isabela also has and hi-tech plants, a higher education institution, a world renowned agricultural research center and a major shopping center, Plaza Isabela.[3]

Culture[edit]

Festivals and events[edit]

  • Isabelino Fighting Cock Festivities - February
  • Weave Festival - May
  • Kite Festival - May
  • Patron Festivities - June
  • Yucca Festival - October (Canceled)
  • Innocent Saints Day - December

Sports[edit]

Isabela is also well known for its world-class surfing spots, and was the host site for two World Cup Surfing Championships in the 20th century.

Isabela had a basketball team that played at the Jose "Buga" Abreu Coliseum, the Isabela Roosters ("Gallitos de Isabela"). The team had average success. In 1987, one of its superstars, Frankie Torruella, was diagnosed with heart disease, and the trading of another star player, Edwin Pellot, to the Coamo team, hastened the team's fallout. In 1984, the team lost the championship, four games to two, to the Canovanas Indians team ("Indios de Canóvanas"). Between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the Bantams were serious championship contenders. In the late 1970s their star player, Mickey Coll, died in a motorcycle accident. The first home team's court was named after him. The Bantams where Isabela's home team until October 2005 when they moved the franchise to Guaynabo. The Playeras, a female volleyball team, played in Isabela for 2 seasons until they as well moved to Aguadilla becoming Las Divas.

The local basketball team was called the "Gallitos" ("Little Cocks," in reference to the slim, lightweight body of the fighting variety) due to the town's fame for quality fighting cocks. The name was translated literally into English as "Bantams", a variety of dwarf cocks.

The town has a cock fighting arena, traditionally called a "Gallera." Fights are customarily held on Sunday mornings, and the bet and stakes are controlled by the government of Puerto Rico, and pay prizes based on the fighting record of the cocks.

Isabela also has amateur baseball teams. Also Isabela is well known for its Fine Step Horses ("Caballos de Paso Fino") and its world class board, wind and kite surfing spots.

Government[edit]

Like all municipalities in Puerto Rico, Isabela is administered by a mayor. The current mayor is Carlos Delgado Altieri, from the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). Delgado was elected at the 2000 general election.

The city belongs to the Puerto Rico Senatorial district IV, which is represented by two Senators. In 2012, María Teresa González and Gilberto Rodríguez were elected as District Senators.[4]

Symbols[edit]

Flag[edit]

The flag resembles the Coat of Arms.
The Isabela Flag

Isabela's flag derives its design, colors and symbolism from its Coat of Arms. It consists of three horizontal stripes of equal width. The top and bottom stripe are yellow and the center one green. The Coat of Arms may be superposed on the green stripe in the center.

Coat of Arms[edit]

The Coat of Arms represents the Taínos.
The Isabela Coat of Arms

The town's coat of arms, dated 1819, is divided an olive tree in its center, symbolizes the first inhabitants of Isabela and of the island of Puerto Rico, the Igneris Indians. The gold represents the Taíno Indians (they made extensive use of gold), who lived in this area about two hundred years before the discovery of the island. The gold bell represented in the center stripe between two cactus is a symbol of the town of San Antonio de la Tuna. The two cocks represent the bravery of the inhabitants and Isabela's famous fighting cocks. The horse represents the cattle wealth of the region and honors the fine step horses (Paso Fino) for which Isabela is famous. The coat of arms is embellished with a mural crown having three towers, the standard emblem at the time for formally established 'pueblos' (townships) under Spanish rule.

A new Coat of Arms is shown at the official Web page on www.isabela.com.pr; it depicts a revised mural crown with five towers to represent a city, but historically, only 11 communities[5] in Puerto Rico were conferred this title under Spanish rule.

Notable people from Isabela[edit]

The following are notable Puerto Ricans born in Isabela:

  1. Manuel Corchado y Juarbe - poet, journalist and politician
  2. Manuel V. Domenech - politician and engineer.
  3. Rafael Chaves - pitching coach of the Seattle Mariners in 2006 and 2007.
  4. Félix Mantilla Lamela - former Major League Baseball player.
  5. Victor Manuelle El Sonero de la Juventud -Cantante de Salsa
  6. Johnny Ortiz - Compositor de "Catalina la "O" y otra amalgama de canciones escritas de Salsa. Juan Ramón "Johnny" Ortiz González conversó largo y tendido con "Raíces Latinas" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7UPekmH0P4) sobre su trayectoria de 45 años en el arte de componer canciones y en el periodico Nueva Hora (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVYxf-Xx52E&feature=share).
  7. Luisito Quevedo - Luis Quevedo Alfaro, uno de los mejores pianistas puertorriqueños y uno de los más virtuosos pianistas nacionales con una capacidad indiscutible para tocar todos los géneros, desde salsa, danzas, boleros, rumbas y guarachas. En el transcurso de su vida artística Quevedo Alfaro participó en más de 600 discos, además de haber actuado como pianista de plantilla en las orquestas Canayón, Sentimiento 25 de Cheo Feliciano y Mario Ortiz. Tuvo la opportunidad de grabar para muchísimas orquestas de renombre como Roberto y su Nuevo Montuno, Tito Rojas, Roberto Roena, Frankie Ruiz, Willie González, Puerto Rico All Star y Latin Tempo entre otros. También acompañó a Danny Rivera, Lucecita Benítez, Chucho Avellanet, Sophy, Marco Antonio Muñiz, Tavín Pumarejo y al famoso Plácido Domingo
  1. Noel Estrada - composer of "En mi Viejo San Juan", one of the most famous Bolero s in Puerto Rico.
  2. Enrique "Kike" Calero - Played professional baseball in the Houston Astros organization.
  3. Calixto Calero Juarbe - Senator
  4. SFC. Agustín Ramos Calero - awarded 22 decorations and medals from the U.S. Army for his actions during World War II,
  5. Henry Melon Lopez Legion of Merit awardee from the U.S. Army in 2003 and Director of Human Resources Fort Dix NJ
  6. Lcda. Aura Lydia Gozález Ríos ←Secretaria del Trabajo, Puerto Rico de 1993-2001 y editora de el Periódico El Sol de Isabea.

See also[edit]


References[edit]

Sol De Isabela Newsletter

Books[edit]

  • Isabela Economy (18th Century)b- *[1] Colección de Tesis: Tesis de maestros presentadas en el Departamento de Historia Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Rio Piedras: Colón, Maria Judith, Historia de Isabela vista a traves de su desarrollo urbano, 1750-1850. (1985), 288 pp.

External links[edit]