Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico

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Sabana Grande

Municipio de Sabana Grande
Town and Municipality
Sepulveda House 2 - Sabana Grande Puerto Rico.jpg
Flag of Sabana Grande
"La Ciudad de los Petateros", "El Pueblo de los Prodigios" ("Town of Prodigies")
Anthem: "Sabana Grande, ciudad petatera"
Location of Sabana Grande in Puerto Rico
Location of Sabana Grande in Puerto Rico
Coordinates: 18°4′47″N 66°57′39″W / 18.07972°N 66.96083°W / 18.07972; -66.96083Coordinates: 18°4′47″N 66°57′39″W / 18.07972°N 66.96083°W / 18.07972; -66.96083
Country United States
Territory Puerto Rico
 • MayorMiguel G. Ortíz Vélez (PPD)
 • Senatorial dist.5 - Ponce
 • Representative dist.21
 • Total37.1 sq mi (96 km2)
 • Land37.1 sq mi (96 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
 • Total25,265
 • Density680/sq mi (260/km2)
Time zoneUTC−4 (AST)
Zip code
Major routesPR primary 2.svg PR secondary 120.svg PR secondary 121.svg Ellipse sign 102.svg Ellipse sign 117.svg

Sabana Grande (Spanish pronunciation: [saˈβana ˈɣɾande]) is a municipality of Puerto Rico located north of Lajas and Guánica; south of Maricao; east of San Germán; and west of Yauco. Sabana Grande is spread over seven wards and Sabana Grande Pueblo (the downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is part of the San Germán-Cabo Rojo Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The municipality's name comes from the extensive plain that occupies the southern part of the municipality, better known as Sabana Grande Abajo. According to historian Mario Villar Roces, before 1808 there was a community with its own church on the land today known as Sabana Grande Arriba. Evidence of this is the oldest baptismal registry preserved from the area, as Sabana Grande was originally a sector of the municipality of San Germán.

Because the community was so far from the center of San Germán, residents felt a need to build a church, which was established as an auxiliary to the San Germán parish. The church was built and was devoted to San Isidro Labrador and Santa María de la Cabeza.

During Spanish rule, in order for a town to be established, the following had to take place: A group of vecinos ("neighbors" or citizens) that wanted to found a town had to grant a power of attorney to one or more other vecinos to represent them before the governor and viceroy. This person could authorize the founding of the town and the establishment of a parish. The grantors of the power of attorney had to be a majority in the given territory and more than ten in number. Once the case had been made, the governor appointed a "capitán poblador" or settlement official to represent the vecinos and one or more delegates, who usually lived in nearby cabildos, or hamlets. Proof was required that the settlement was so far from a church that it was very difficult for the settlers to partake of sacraments and municipal services. In general, proof was provided of the absence or bad condition of roads and bridges. If the petition was approved, it was required that the vecinos mark off the new municipality and build public works such as a church, a parish house, a government house (Casa del Rey), a slaughterhouse, and a cemetery, and to set aside land for the town square or plaza and the commons (ejidos). The vecinos were expected to cover the cost of building these works by levying special assessments. Usually one of the land owners donated some land for the founding. Once the requirements had been met, the governor authorized the founding of the town and the parish, and he appointed a Lieutenant at War who usually was the same capitán poblador.

There is some debate as to when Sabana Grande was founded. Some say that it was established in 1808, while others say it was established in 1813, a year after the town was politically established in 1812. Historian Villar Roces posits that although the exact date of the founding of the town is not found in any document in the municipal archives, 1813 should be considered the year it was legally founded because it coincides with the date of the first registry document. In entry number 23 in the third book of marriages, dated July 1, 1813, the priest is identified as "Priest Ecónomo of the Sabana Grande Parish Church," while previous entries were called "Attending Priests" or "Coadjutants of the Villa of San Germán."

Sabana Grande became an independent parish, under its own jurisdiction, in June 1813, with the first parish priest of the San Isidro Labrador y Santa María de la Cabeza Church being Martín Antonio Borreli.

On December 21, 1814, the first captain general of Sabana Grande, Pedro de Acosta, took office. Some local historians assert that he donated seventy cuerdas of land where the Kings House, priests house, a plaza, a butcher shop and a cemetery were established. Others say that this land was donated by Joaquín P. Rodríguez de la Seda y Almodóvar. Villar Roces adds that Juan Francisco de Acosta, brother of the mayor and parish priest of Sabana Grande, donated his house to the town so it could be used as the Kings House or council house.

The first families of Sabana Grande were the Vélez Borrero, García Almodóvar, Nazario de Figueroa, Acosta, Sanabria, Lugo, Rivera, Sepúlveda, del Toro, Montalvo, Irizarry, Borreli, Ramírez, Torres, Matos, Pabón, Dávila, Quiñones, Rodríguez de la Renta, Soltero, Segarra, Ortiz de la Renta, Ortiz de la Peña, Saavedra families and others. Also, Catalan families with the surnames of Busigó, Malaret and Serra, and a group of Greek immigrants with the surname Soto, all settled in the town from the time of its founding.[1]


Sabana Grande[2] is on the south west side. There are a number of rivers there: Río Guanajibo and its tributaries, Río Coco, Rio La Maquina, Río Cruces, Río Flores, Río Grande, Río Loco.

Valle de Lajas/Lajas Valley, November 2006

Hurricane Maria[edit]

Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017 triggered numerous landslides in Sabaana Grande with the significant amount of rainfall.[3][4]


Subdivisions of Sabana Grande.

Like all municipalities of Puerto Rico, Sabana Grande is subdivided into barrios. The municipal buildings, central square and large Catholic church are located in a barrio referred to as "el pueblo".[5][6][7]



Fruits, sugar and cattle on a small scale.

Special communities[edit]

Since 2001 when law 1-2001 was passed,[9] measures have been taken to identify and address the high levels of poverty and the lack of resources and opportunities affecting specific communities in Puerto Rico. Initially there were 686 places that made the list.[10] By 2008, there were 742 places on the list of Comunidades especiales de Puerto Rico. The places on the list are barrios, communities, sectors, or neighborhoods and in 2004 included the following areas in Sabana Grande:[10][11]

  1. Santana
  2. Cerro Gordo
  3. El Burén
  4. Molinas
  5. Susúa

In 2017, Governor Rosello created a new government agency to aid the Special Communities of Puerto Rico Program and Jesús Vélez Vargas, its director stated that the program was evolving with more streamlined ways to help the residents of these marginalized communities.[12][13]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1899 (shown as 1900)[15] 1910-1930[16]
1930-1950[17] 1960-2000[18] 2010[6]


Landmarks and places of interest[edit]

The following are some of the well-known places of interest in Sabana Grande:[19]

  • San Francisco Estate, in Spanish: Hacienda San Francisco, also known as Hacienda Quilinchini, is a historic sugar mill complex with an hacienda house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Museum of Art, City Hall
  • The Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Rosary of the Well, El Pozo de la Virgen, a Catholic mission with millions of people in twenty countries[20]
  • Susúa State Forest
  • Barco House Casa Barco
  • Orlando López Recreational Center
  • Igualdad Lodge #23
  • Masonic Cemetery, Cementerio Masónico de Ia Resp. Logia Igualdad Num. 23 de Sabana Grande, is of countrywide significance under Criterion A in the area of Social History as the property is associated with a very important pattern of social and political events that took place during the nineteenth century in Puerto Rico. The construction of the cemetery came out as a result of the struggles among the Spanish political establishment and its ideological partner, the Roman Catholic Church, against the presence of the philosophical brotherhood commonly known as the Freemasons.[21]
  • Placita de la Recordación


Festivals and events[edit]

  • Patron Celebrations
  • Virgen del Pozo Marathon - May
  • Petate Festival - December
  • Carnaval Interentidades


Like all municipalities in Puerto Rico, Sabana Grande is administered by a mayor. The current mayor is Miguel Ortíz Vélez, from the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). Ortíz was elected at the 1992 general election.

The city belongs to the Puerto Rico Senatorial district V, which is represented by two Senators. In 2012, Ramón Ruiz and Martín Vargas Morales, from the Popular Democratic Party, were elected as District Senators.[22]


There are 27 bridges in Sabana Grande.[23]



The flag of Sabana Grande has four squares, two green and two yellow, alternating. In the center is the municipal coat of arms. The meaning of the flag comes from the coat of arms.

Coat of arms[edit]

The municipality's coat of arms contains the elements that represent the town's patron saints. The shovel and rake allude to San Isidro Labrador. It is believed this representation arose from the faith of the workers in the Sabana Grande countryside. When a bad drought came, they made promises in the hopes that their patron saint would save their crops. The urn represents the domestic tasks of Santa María de la Cabeza, the wife of San Isidro.

In the center is the leaf of the petate palm as an icon of a traditional industry of Sabana Grande. Above is the crown wall which, as a symbol of solidarity, civic unity and common defense, is a heraldic tribute that is part of the coat of arms of towns. The motto on the coat of arms is "Town of the Prodigies."[1]


Sabana Grande boasts several public and private schools within its territory. Public education is handled by the Puerto Rico Department of Education.

Some of the local schools are:

  • Jose A. Castillo Elementary
  • Jose Celso Barbosa Elementary
  • Rosendo Matienzo Cintron Elementary
  • Francisco Vazquez Puello Elementary
  • David Antorgiorgi Cordova Elementary and Middle School
  • Juan I. Vega Elementary and Middle School
  • Blanca Malaret Middle School
  • Luis Negron Lopez High School
  • Jose R Gaztambide elementary


  • The Academy of Saint Agustin and the Holy Spirit
  • Santa Ana Bilingual School
  • Christian Academy
  • Baptist Academy

Famous people[edit]

  • Augusto Malaret (Author)
  • Dr. Manuel Quevedo Báez (author)
  • Luis Negrón López (politics)
  • Radames Vega - Gold Medallist of 1978 Juegos Centroamericanos
  • Confesor Acosta Ocasio (Liso)
  • Santos Colón Vega cantante
  • Félix Rigau Carrera - First Puerto Rican pilot and the first pilot to fly on air mail carrying duties in Puerto Rico.
  • Ángel Rigau Ramos (poet)
  • Aníbal González Irizarry (TV)
  • Adalberto Rodríguez "Machuchal" (Comedian)
  • Adrián Nelson Ramírez Vega (painter and poster artist)
  • Ángel Gregorio Martínez (First Puerto Rican to die in World War II)
  • Fidel Vélez (Patriot) (Intentona de Yauco)
  • Godless (Black Metal Band)
  • Calixto Carrera Montalvo (poet)
  • John Ruiz (boxing-First Hispanic Heavyweight World Champion)
  • Jose Vidro MLB All-Star
  • Francis Rosas Comidian/Actor
  • Jose "Witito" Martinez - Puerto Rico Baseball Legend
  • Jonathan Sánchez MLB Pitcher, No Hitter, World Series Champion
  • Sebastian "Papo" Marchany - Photography

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Sabana Grande Municipality - Municipalities - EnciclopediaPR". Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades (FPH).
  3. ^ "Preliminary Locations of Landslide Impacts from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico". USGS Landslide Hazards Program. USGS.
  4. ^ "Preliminary Locations of Landslide Impacts from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico" (PDF). USGS Landslide Hazards Program. USGS.
  5. ^ Gwillim Law (20 May 2015). Administrative Subdivisions of Countries: A Comprehensive World Reference, 1900 through 1998. McFarland. p. 300. ISBN 978-1-4766-0447-3. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b Puerto Rico:2010:population and housing unit counts.pdf (PDF). U.S. Dept. of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration U.S. Census Bureau. 2010.
  7. ^ "Map of Sabana Grande" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  8. ^ "US Census Barrio-Pueblo definition". US Census. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Leyes del 2001". Lex Juris Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Comunidades Especiales de Puerto Rico" (in Spanish). 8 August 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  11. ^ Rivera Quintero, Marcia (2014), El vuelo de la esperanza : Proyecto de las Comunidades Especiales Puerto Rico, 1997-2004 (Primera edición ed.), San Juan, Puerto Rico Fundación Sila M. Calderón, p. 277, ISBN 978-0-9820806-1-0
  12. ^ "Evoluciona el proyecto de Comunidades Especiales". El Nuevo Dia (in Spanish). 24 February 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  13. ^, Por. "Ya es ley Oficina para el Desarrollo Socioeconómico y Comunitario". El Vocero de Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  14. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  15. ^ "Report of the Census of Porto Rico 1899". War Department Office Director Census of Porto Rico. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  16. ^ "Table 3-Population of Municipalities: 1930 1920 and 1910" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  17. ^ "Table 4-Area and Population of Municipalities Urban and Rural: 1930 to 1950" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  18. ^ "Table 2 Population and Housing Units: 1960 to 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  19. ^ "Sabana Grande Municipality - Municipalities - EnciclopediaPR". Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  20. ^ "Resurge el lío con la Misión Nuestra Señora del Pozo". Primera Hora. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-03-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Elecciones Generales 2012: Escrutinio General Archived 2013-01-15 at the Wayback Machine on CEEPUR
  23. ^ "Sabana Grande Bridges". National Bridge Inventory Data. US Dept. of Transportation. Retrieved 19 February 2019.

External links[edit]