Florida, Puerto Rico
Town and Municipality
Building in Florida with flags out front
"Pueblo de la Piña Cayenalisa", "La Tierra del Río Encantado", "Tierra de los Mogotes"
|Anthem: "Florida jardín hermoso"|
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Florida Municipality
|• Mayor||José Gerena Polanco (PNP)|
|• Senatorial dist.||3 - Arecibo|
|• Representative dist.||13|
|• Total||26 km2 (10 sq mi)|
|• Density||490/km2 (1,300/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC-4 (AST)|
Florida (Spanish pronunciation: [floˈɾiða]) is a municipality of Puerto Rico located north of Ciales, south of Barceloneta, east of Arecibo, and west of Manatí. Florida is not like other municipalities of Puerto Rico with multiple subdivisions called barrios. It has one barrio called Florida Adentro and two other subdivisions: Florida Zona Urbana and Pajonal comunidad. It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Florida was founded first as a barrio of Barceloneta in 1881 when a priest, Father Carrión, the mayor of Barceloneta, and other dignitaries arrived at a terrain of almost 4 acres. They decided to establish a new barrio and the owner of the place, Don Manuel Cintrón granted the land while he retained a piece of it. The barrio was first called Florida Adentro.
During the 20th century, several efforts were made to declare Florida as a municipality. First, on 14 April 1949, House Representative Francisco Díaz Marchand presented a project to create a legislative commission that would study the economic and social conditions of the barrio, to determine the suitability of it as an independent municipality. The project was unsuccessful. In 1960, Manuel Frías Morales presented a law that would permit the study to establish the municipality but it didn't succeed either.
Finally, on 14 June 1971, the Senate of Puerto Rico and Governor Don Luis A. Ferré approved the law that officially created the municipality of Florida. It is thus the youngest municipality established in the island.
Florida is the second smallest municipality of Puerto Rico, with an area of 10 square miles. The municipality is the only in Puerto Rico with its urban area within the northern karst region (sometimes referred as the Northern Hills), thus it is surrounded by low elevation haystack hills known as mogotes. The southern border of the municipality with Ciales remains one of the least developed areas on the island, due to the ruggedness of the karst. The Rio Encantado is a subterranean river that goes through this area. Several caves are in the town like Román Cave, Miró Cave, and Juana Gómez Cave. Balcon Cave (Cueva Balcon) is located in Florida.
Like all municipalities of Puerto Rico, Florida is subdivided into administrative units called barrios (which means barrios or boroughs or neighborhoods in English). A newer municipality of Puerto Rico, Florida has one barrio called Florida Adentro and two subbarrios: Florida Zona Urbana and Pajonal and it does not have a barrio-pueblo like most of the other municipalities of Puerto Rico.
The following areas are neighborhoods in Florida:
- Parcelas Arroyo
- Parcelas Selgas
- Pueblo Viejo
- San Agustín
Barrios (which are like minor civil divisions) are subdivided into smaller local populated place areas/units called sectores (sectors in English). The types of sectores may vary, from sector to urbanización to reparto to barriada to residencial, among others.
Comunidades Especiales de Puerto Rico (Special Communities of Puerto Rico) are marginalized communities whose citizens are experiencing a certain amount of social exclusion. A map shows these communities occur in nearly every municipality of the commonwealth. Of the 742 places that were on the list in 2014, the following barrios, communities, sectors, or neighborhoods were in Florida: Sector El Hoyo in Comunidad San Agustín, Comunidad Arroyo, Sector Polvorín in Comunidad La Ceiba, Comunidad La Fuente, Estancias de Arroyo in La Joya, Sector El Cerro in Pajonal, and Sectors La Charca and Los Quemaos (both) in Parcelas Selgas.
Festival and events
Florida celebrates its patron saint festival in September. The Fiestas Patronales de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes is a religious and cultural celebration that generally features parades, games, artisans, amusement rides, regional food, and live entertainment.
Other festivals and events celebrated in Florida include:
- Three Kings festival – January
- Cayenalisa Pineapple Festival- July
- Cultural Fair of Río Encantado – October
Florida's economy had mostly relied on agriculture, specifically pineapple, crops and other fruit related products. Today that's history with the high taxes impose on small vendors, there had been a few of manufacturing plants establishing in the area. There are pharmaceuticals in Florida.
Florida is one of the least populated municipalities of Puerto Rico, perhaps due to its small size. The population, according to the 2000 census, was 12,237 with a population density of 1,236.7 people per square mile (475.6/km2). After its establishment in 1974, the population has steadily increased over the years, with 7,232 people in the 1980 census.
|Race - Florida, Puerto Rico - 2000 Census|
|Race||Population||% of Total|
|American Indian and Alaska Native||43||0.3%|
|Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander||0||0.0%|
|Some other race||409||3.3%|
|Two or more races||198||1.6%|
After its initial establishment, Florida belonged to the Barceloneta region. In 1949 and 1960 there were some attempts to separate the barrio from Barceloneta, but these were unsuccessful. However, in 1974, Governor Luis A. Ferré and the Puerto Rican Senate officially declared Florida an independent municipality. Its first mayor was Jorge L. Pérez Piñeiro. The current mayor is José Gerena Polanco, of the New Progressive Party (PNP). He was elected at the 2012 general elections.
It consists of three horizontal stripes, with the following colors and widths: green the superior and white the inferior, with five modules of width each one, the center one red, with a width of one module.
Coat of arms
Field of silver, in an abyss, a gules (red) anchored cross, like the one in the Asturian district of Llanes. The cross is anchored between two branches of bloomed poinsettias (Poinsettia Pulcherrima). A green terrace represents the hilly terrain of the town, with a stripe forming waves outlined in silver which represents the underground river of Encantado. At the top, a three tower gold crown distinct in municipalities coat of arms. The shield can be surrounded, to its flanks and bottom by two crossed coffee tree branches with fruits.
Florida derives its name from the abundant flowers and natural resources on its land. It is also known as La Tierra del Río Encantado due to an underground river called Encantado. Another nickname is the Pueblo de la Piña Cayenalisa due to its pineapple crops.
There are several public and private schools, serving students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, distributed throughout the municipality of Florida. Public education is handled by the Puerto Rico Department of Education. These are some of the schools in Florida, as of 2020:
- Adolfo Egüen School
- Juanita Ramírez González School
- Juan Ponce De León II School
- Francisco Frías Morales School
- Ricardo Rodríguez Torres School
- Early Head Start
Like most other towns in the island, it has a public transportation system consisting of public cars.
There is only one bridge in Florida.
Mayors of Florida
- 1974–1981 - Jorge Luis Pérez Piñeiro
- 1981–1984 - Heriberto González Vélez
- 1984–1992 - Juan Ramon De León Vélez [Johnny]
- 1992–2004 - Maria Dolores Guzmán Cardona [Maggie]
- 2004–2012 - José Aaron Pargas Ojeda
- 2012 – present - José Gerena Polanco
- Charlie Montoyo - Current Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays and former Major League Baseball player
- Alexis Mateo - Drag queen and contestant on Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
- Danny A. Viera Carrero- Primer puertorriqueño como jefe de tripulación en el avión del Secretario de Defensa de los Estados Unidos 2008-2011 y Primer Crewchief y jefe de comunicaciones del jefe de Operaciones Navales de los Estados Unidos 2011-2015.
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