With a population of 194,636, Ponce is Puerto Rico's second largest city (San Juan is the first and Mayaguez is the third). Ponce is where I spent the majority of my teenage years and is the city were both of my children were born.
Ponce is commonly known by several names: "La Perla del Sur" (Pearl of the South), "La Ciudad de los Leones" (City of Lions), or "La Ciudad de las Quenepas" (Genip City). Ponce is also known as the "Ciudad Señorial" (Majestic or Noble City), because of its many beautiful neoclassical buildings and facades.
Ponce was founded in 1692 by Juan Ponce de León's great-grandson - Loíza Ponce de León. Ponce was Spain's capital of the southern region until it fell to the U.S. in 1898.
Ponce is located in the Southern Coastal Plain region (about 5 km (3 mi) from the south central coast of the island), south of Adjuntas, Utuado and Jayuya; east of Peñuelas; and west of Juana Díaz. The annual precipitation is approximately 36 inches on the coast and 48 inches in the interior and the average temperature is 75°F.
"La Guancha Paseo Tablado", the boardwalk, is a fun stop where you can loiter with lively local Ponceños-the teen scene, elders and the toddler-mamma set. The pier here is the departure point for a regularly scheduled weekend ferry to "Caja de Muertos" (Coffin Island or Dead Box Island), a small island of pristine beaches, an old lighthouse (built in 1887) and a marked snorkel trail (under construction). Ferry services: Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9am and return to 5pm.
At the time of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Puerto Rico in 1898 during the Spanish–American War, Ponce was the largest city in the island with a population of 22,000. Ponce had the best road in Puerto Rico, running from Ponce to San Juan, which had been built by the Spaniards for military purposes. The taking of Ponce by American troops "was a critical turning point in the Puerto Rican campaign. For the first time the Americans held a major port to funnel large numbers of men and quantities of war material into the island." Ponce also had underwater telegraph cable connections with Jamaica and the West Indies, putting the U.S. forces on the island in direct communication with Washington, D.C. for the first time since the beginning of the campaign.
Plaza Las Delicias, the town's main square, features a prominet fountain (namely, the "Lions Fountain"), the Ponce Cathedral, and Parque de Bombas, an old fire house, now a museum, that stands as an iconic symbol of the city and a tribute to the bravery of its firefighters. This plaza is also a usual gathering place for "ponceños". Other buildings around Ponce's main plaza include the Casa Alcaldía (Ponce City Hall), the oldest colonial building in the city, dating to the 1840s, and the Armstrong-Poventud Residence, an example of the neoclassical architectural heritage of the island.
As part of Ponce’s Contemporary Art Program, the city unveiled one of the most colorful and vivacious art proposals the island has ever seen, “Ponce’s Lion Parade.” This cultural exhibition of contemporary art assembles 15 life-size lion sculptures. The city provided native artists with a blank canvas so they can transformed each lion and imparted them with with a unique life and personality. No two are alike.
Everything you can dream of is real in Ponce! For more information please visit www.visitponce.com