Vega Alta, Puerto Rico

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Vega Alta

Municipio Autónomo de Vega Alta
Town and Municipality
Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion - Vega Alta Puerto Rico.jpg
Flag of Vega Alta
Pueblo de los Ñangotaos, Los Maceteros
Anthem: "En La Costa Norte De Mi Islita"
Location of Vega Alta in Puerto Rico
Location of Vega Alta in Puerto Rico
Coordinates: 18°24′44″N 66°19′53″W / 18.41222°N 66.33139°W / 18.41222; -66.33139Coordinates: 18°24′44″N 66°19′53″W / 18.41222°N 66.33139°W / 18.41222; -66.33139
Country United States
Territory Puerto Rico
 • MayorOscar Santiago (PPD)
 • Senatorial dist.3 - Arecibo
 • Representative dist.11,12
 • Total71.87 km2 (27.75 sq mi)
 • Total39,951
 • Density560/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-4 (AST)
Zip code
Major routesPR secondary 2.svg Ellipse sign 160.svg Ellipse sign 690.svg
Toll plate yellow.svg
PR primary 22.svg

Vega Alta (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈbeɣa ˈalta]) is a municipality of Puerto Rico (U.S.). Vega Alta is located on the northern coast of the island, north of Morovis and Corozal; east of Vega Baja; and west of Dorado with an area of 28 square miles (73 km2). Vega Alta is spread over seven wards and Vega Alta Pueblo (the downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Vega Alta is west of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Vega Alta is known for the beach at Cerro Gordo. Other points of interest include the town's Catholic church, known as Inmaculada Concepción, founded in 1813, and the Vega Alta Forest.[1]

During the first week of December, Vega Alta celebrates its patron, The Immaculate Conception.


Mosque in Vega Alta, second-largest in Puerto Rico, built in 1992

Vega Alta was founded in 1775 by Francisco de los Olivos. It was first named La Vega de Espinosa and known as el pueblo de los Ñangotaos (the town of the squatters", in reference to the jíbaros country folk who would wait for the train in a squatting position, due to lack of benches). Before this, it was part of a group of towns known as Las Vegas. It was then that one area was named Vega Baja and the other Vega Alta.

On October 12, 1898 the city's mayor, Francisco Vega, received U.S. troops as part of the Spanish–American War. On that same day, for the first time in Vega Alta's history, the U.S. flag was lifted on city hall. From 1902 to 1905, Vega Alta became once more part of the neighbor city of Vega Baja. In 1905, the government of Puerto Rico passed a law, allowing Vega Alta to become a municipality with its own limits.

Hacienda Carmen and Hacienda Ortega sugar plantations were owned by Juan Gualberto Landron y Martinez born in 1791 in Toa Baja . He owned slaves and purchased them, some coming directly from Africa.

The second-largest mosque, built in 1992, is located in Vega Alta.[2]


Vega Alta[3] is on the northern coast.

Río Cibuco, Río Mavilla and Río Unibón are located in Vega Alta. The Javier Calderón beach, better known as Cerro Gordo Beach is administered by the Puerto Rico Department of Sports and Recreation.[4]

Vega Alta has a land area of 27.75 square miles (71.87 km²) and water area of 9.76 square miles (25.28 km²).[5]

Hurricane Maria[edit]

Hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017 triggered numerous landslides in Vega Alta with the significant amount of rainfall.[6][7]


Subdivisions of Vega Alta.

Like all municipalities of Puerto Rico, Vega Alta is subdivided into barrios. The municipal buildings, central square and large Catholic church are located in a barrio referred to as "el pueblo".[8][9][5][10]


According to the Weather Channel's website, June is the warmest month, March is the coolest month, October is the wettest month, and June is the driest month. Records:

  • The highest recorded temperature was 98 °F in July 2007.
  • The lowest recorded temperature was 40 °F in January 1945.



In 1908, Vega Alta was producing coffee, sugar, oranges (which were famous in the United States) for their sweetness, tobacco and rum.[11]


  • Banana, fruits, grains, and sugar cane.
  • Flowers and ornamental plants.
  • Dairy and meat cattle, pigs, and poultry.


  • Manufacture of chemicals, electrical and electronic machinery, furniture, food, and plastics.
  • Logistics Center

Special Communities Program[edit]

In 2001, law 1-2001 was passed[12] to identify communities with high levels of poverty in Puerto Rico.[13] In 2017, Governor Rosello created a new government agency to work with the Special Communities of Puerto Rico Program.[14][15] Of the 742 places on the list of Comunidades Especiales de Puerto Rico, the following barrios, communities, sectors, or neighborhoods are in Vega Alta: Villa Alegria, Villa del Rio, Mavilla, Machuchal, El Nueve, Ponderosa, Manantial, and Corea.[16]



Vega Alta Maceteros[17] (Double A Baseball League)

Vega Alta is known for having amateur ball players as well as professional. Basketball is played in local communities. Other sports practiced include tennis, volleyball, handball, cock fighting, and amateur surfing among others.

Vega Alta is also known for having famous Major League Baseball players such as The Molina Brothers which consist of Yadier Molina, Bengie Molina and José Molina. Other famous sport personalities include former New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams and professional boxer Ángel Chacón.


A well known musician from Vega Alta was Ladislao Martinez a.k.a. El Maestro Ladi (June 27, 1898–February 1, 1979), a master cuatro musician. He became the first Puerto Rican to play a cuatro solo on the radio.

Fiel a la Vega, a rock en español (rock in Spanish) band, was formed in 1994. Band members Tito Auger and Ricky Laureano are from Vega Alta, while brothers Pedro Arraiza and Jorge Arraiza come from next-door Vega Baja. Their first album spawned hits like Salimos de Aquí and El Wanabí, both of which were released with videos.


Lin-Manuel Miranda tourism[edit]

La Placita Güisín.

The Puerto Rican, award-winning, musician and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda who created the Broadway hit, "Hamilton", is from a family with roots in Vega Alta. In 2017, his dad opened La Placita Güisín, a cafe and restaurant in the downtown area of Vega Alta, and in 2019 Lin-Manuel moved his memorabilia to a new gallery, the Lin-Manuel Miranda Gallery, a few steps from Placita Güisín and opened a store there too, TeeRico. The location has become a tourist attraction.[18][19][20]

Festivals and events[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[21]
1899 (shown as 1900)[22] 1910-1930[23]
1930-1950[24] 1960-2000[25] 2010[5]
  • Population: 37,910 as of 2000 U.S. Census
  • Density: 527.5 per km² (1,366.1 per sq mi)
  • Housing units: 13,526
  • Housing density: 188.2 per km²
  • Per capita income: $7,356


Town Hall in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico

The main women's prison of the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Escuela Industrial para Mujeres in Vega Alta, opened in 1954, replacing a prison in Arecibo; work began on the facility in 1952. Puerto Rico also operates the Hogar de Adaptación Social en Vega Alta, which opened in 1987.[26]

Past and present mayors[edit]

  • Antonio Navas
  • Lorenzo Cabrera
  • Emilio Escalera
  • Arturo Rivera
  • Ramon Cestero
  • Emilio Davila Diaz
  • Jose Vega Nevarez
  • Francisco Chinea
  • Carmelo Mercado
  • Jacinto Seijo
  • Jose Rosado Negron, (1977–1980; b. 1934, d. 1999)
  • Manuel "Manolin" Chinea (PDP, 1981–1993)
  • Isabelo "Chabelo" Molina (PNP, 1993–2001)
  • Juan "Mane" Cruzado (PPD, 2001–2002) resigned, Vice-Mayor Jose Colon assumed post.
  • Jose Colon (PPD, 2002–2005)
  • Isabelo "Chabelo" Molina (PNP, 2005–2017)
  • Oscar Santiago Martinez (PPD, 2017–present)


Puerto Rico's Highway 22 provides access to Vega Alta from the far away city of Mayagüez, or from San Juan. Highway 2 also provides access from the western cities of Manatí, Arecibo and the eastern cities of Bayamón and Guaynabo bordering the shore to the Atlantic Ocean. It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the town from San Juan. The closest airport is Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina. Other public transportation close to the area is El Tren Urbano (TU).

There are 16 bridges in Vega Alta.[27]



Coat of arms[edit]


The anthem used by Vega Alta is the musical composition created in 1958, with lyrics by Domingo Figueroa Ramírez Arreglo and music by Domingo and Elliot A. Knight.


Public schools[edit]

  • Antonio Paoli/Elementary
  • Elemental Urbana/Elementary
  • Elisa Davila Vazquez/Elementary
  • Ignacio Miranda/elementary school
  • Dr. Cañaco Stalingrad III/ High School
  • Jose D. Rosado/Elementary
  • Jose M. Pagan/Elementary
  • Rafael Hernadez/Elementary
  • Apolo San Antonio/Former high school
  • Nueva Escuela Brenas/Middle School, Second Unit
  • Adelaida Vega/Middle School, Second Unit
  • Ileana de Gracia/High School
  • Ladislao Martinez (Maestro Ladi)/Second High School

Private schools[edit]

Notable natives and residents[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Leonardo Santana-Rabell. Historia de Vega Alta de Espinosa. 2da edición, Editorial La Torre del Viejo, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, 1995.
  • Domingo Figueroa Ramirez. Memorias y versos: Desde algun rincón de Vega Alta. 1era edición Vega Coop y Econo Mendez Class

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Municipalities: Vega Alta". Encyclopedia of Puerto Rico (in English and Spanish). San Juan: Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades. OCLC 234072526. Archived from the original on 2016-03-07. Retrieved May 16, 2017. Mayors
  2. ^ "Muslims in Puerto Rico". Arab News. December 28, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  3. ^ "Vega Alta Municipality - Municipalities - EnciclopediaPR". Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades (FPH).
  4. ^ "Balneario Cerro Gordo". drdpuertorico (in Spanish). Programa de Parques Nacionales de Puerto Rico. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Puerto Rico:2010:population and housing unit counts.pdf (PDF). U.S. Dept. of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration U.S. Census Bureau. 2010.
  6. ^ "Preliminary Locations of Landslide Impacts from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico". USGS Landslide Hazards Program. USGS.
  7. ^ "Preliminary Locations of Landslide Impacts from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico" (PDF). USGS Landslide Hazards Program. USGS.
  8. ^ Picó, Rafael; Buitrago de Santiago, Zayda; Berrios, Hector H. Nueva geografía de Puerto Rico: física, económica, y social, por Rafael Picó. Con la colaboración de Zayda Buitrago de Santiago y Héctor H. Berrios. San Juan Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico,1969.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Map of Vega Alta at the Wayback Machine" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-03-24. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  11. ^ Anuario del comercio, de la industria, de la magistratura y de la administración de España, sus colonias, Cuba, Puerto-Rico y Filipinas, estados hispano-americanos y Portugal (in Spanish). Bailly-Bailliere e Hijos. 1908. p. 353.
  12. ^ "Leyes del 2001". Lex Juris Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Comunidades Especiales de Puerto Rico" (in Spanish). 8 August 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Evoluciona el proyecto de Comunidades Especiales". El Nuevo Dia (in Spanish). 24 February 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Ya es ley Oficina para el Desarrollo Socioeconómico y Comunitario". El Vocero de Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  16. ^ 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. 273, ISBN 978-0-9820806-1-0
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-08-05. Retrieved 2018-12-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Paulson, Michael (December 26, 2018). "Lin-Manuel Miranda's Passion for Puerto Rico". NYT.
  19. ^ Ayala Polley, Leonor (May 1, 2016). "In Lin-Manuel Miranda's Puerto Rican Town, Crisis Worries Family Members". NBC.
  20. ^ "Lin-Manuel Miranda inaugura galería en Vega Alta". El Nuevo Dia. 30 April 2019.
  21. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  22. ^ "Report of the Census of Porto Rico 1899". War Department Office Director Census of Porto Rico. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  23. ^ "Table 3-Population of Municipalities: 1930 1920 and 1910" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  24. ^ "Table 4-Area and Population of Municipalities Urban and Rural: 1930 to 1950" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  25. ^ "Table 2 Population and Housing Units: 1960 to 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  26. ^ "Perfil de la Población de Mujeres Confinadas Año 2015" (Archive). Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved on December 9, 2015.
  27. ^ "Vega Alta Bridges". National Bridge Inventory Data. US Dept. of Transportation. Retrieved 19 February 2019.

External links[edit]