Aibonito, Puerto Rico
Town and Municipality
"La Ciudad de las Flores", "La Ciudad Fría", "El Jardín de Puerto Rico", "La Nevera De Puerto Rico"
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Aibonito Municipality
|Founded||March 13, 1824|
|• Mayor||William Alicea Pérez (PNP)|
|• Senatorial dist.||6 – Guayama|
|• Representative dist.||27|
|• Total||82 km2 (31.5 sq mi)|
|• Land||82 km2 (31.5 sq mi)|
|• Water||0.01 km2 (0.0 sq mi)|
|Elevation||731 m (2,401 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC−4 (AST)|
Aibonito (Spanish pronunciation: [ajβoˈnito]) is a small mountain municipality in Puerto Rico located in the Mountain range of Cayey, north of Salinas; south of Barranquitas and Comerio; east of Coamo; and west of Cidra, and Cayey. Aibonito is spread over 8 barrios and Aibonito Pueblo (the downtown area and the administrative center of the city). It is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Aibonito is located at a relatively high elevation (its main plaza is the highest in the island at 2,401 ft [731 m] above sea level), which makes its climate cooler than most of Puerto Rico's towns. It holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in Puerto Rico; because of this, the municipality's nicknames include "The Cold City" and "The Fridge of Puerto Rico."
After the Spanish arrived, it is believed that a ranch was established in the region by Pedro Zorascoechea in 1630, which led the development of a hamlet. However, it wasn't until 1822 when Don Manuel Veléz presented himself before the government, representing the inhabitants of the area, to ask for Aibonito to be officially declared a town. This was authorized on March 13, 1824, by Governor Don Miguel de la Torre. The first Catholic church in Aibonito was built in 1825. The building was replaced by the current church, which was started in 1887 and completed in 1897. After the town was officially constituted, barrios started developing in the area.
On the Spanish–American War of 1898, around 800 Spanish and Puerto Rican soldiers were able to defeat the invading American troops due to their strategic placement in the Asomante mountain. This scrimmage came to an end when the Spanish government surrendered on August 12, 1898. The Spanish and Puerto Rican forces at Asomante never surrendered and would have held their position indefinitely if not for the buckling of the Spanish government in Madrid.
There are several stories regarding the name of the town. Some people say that it is derived from the Taíno word "Jatibonicu", which was the name of a Cacique (leader) of the area. This name was also used to refer to a river in the area and was also the name used by the tribe of Orocobix, Taíno chief of the area. Finally, there's a legend that tells of a Spanish soldier called Diego Alvarez who on May 17, 1615, reached one of the highest peaks in the area and upon watching the view, exclaimed "Ay, que bonito!" ("Oh, how pretty!") which eventually was turned into the name of the region.
Aibonito is located in the Cayey mountain range ("Sierra de Cayey"), part of the Cordillera Central in Puerto Rico. Aibonito is the town with the highest elevation in Puerto Rico, located at 2,401 feet above sea level. Some of its mountains are La Sierra (2,394 ft), Asomante (2,042 ft) and Buena Vista (2,042 ft).
Like all municipalities of Puerto Rico, Aibonito is subdivided into barrios. The municipal buildings, central square and large Catholic church are located in a small barrio referred to as "el pueblo", near the center of the municipality.
Barrios (which are like minor civil divisions) in turn are further subdivided into smaller local populated place areas/units called sectores (sectors in English). The types of sectores may vary, from normally 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 Aibonito: the Municipal neighborhood, Algarrobo barrio, Amoldadero and Los Muros in La Plata barrio, El Campito, El Coquí, El Fresal, La Españolita, La Represa, Las Bambúas, Los Cuadritos, Parcelas Nuevas in Pasto barrio, Parcelas Rabanal, Parcelas Viejas in Pasto, San Luis, Sector El Nueve, and Sector Gallera.
Aibonito holds the record for the lowest temperature in Puerto Rico. That is 38 °F (3 °C) on March 9, 1911. The highest temperature record is 98 °F (37 °C) recorded on September 29, 1920. Aibonito is among Puerto Rico's coolest towns.
|Record high °F (°C)||84
|Average high °F (°C)||74.3
|Daily mean °F (°C)||67.9
|Average low °F (°C)||61.5
|Record low °F (°C)||43
|Average rainfall inches (mm)||3.05
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.10)||9||7||6||8||8||7||8||15||24||18||19||16||145|
|Source: Southeast Regional Climate Center |
Puerto Rico was ceded by Spain in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898 and became a territory of the United States. In 1899, the United States conducted its first census of Puerto Rico finding that the population of Aibonito was 8,596.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
1899 (shown as 1900) 1910-1930
1930-1950 1960-2000 2010
Landmarks and places of interest
Two of the older landmarks of Aibonito are the Old Encanto Theater, and Moscoso Pharmacy. Their building facades reflect early 20th century architecture. The Mirador Overlook allows for panoramic views of the Plata Valley. The Degetau Stone (in Spanish: La Piedra de Degetau) was where Federico Degetau, a writer, found his inspiration. Casa Museo Federico Degetau is the restored, house museum of the writer. The San José Catholic Church which was designed by architect Pedro Cobreros between 1887 and 1897, was built in 1898 is located in the central plaza. There is a plaque commemoration the 100th anniversary of the Spanish-American War at Asomante Memorial, a place with a view of the Central Mountain Range. The Asomante Trench in Spanish: La Trinchera de Asomante is where part of the Spanish-American war took place. The Central Plaza is named after Segundo Ruíz Belvis, a national abolitionist hero. The San Cristóbal Canyon, a nine-kilometers-long canyon with waterfalls, is the only canyon in Puerto Rico is located between Aibonito and Barranquitas. In Robles barrio there is an iron bridge with PR-176 and was built in 1892. The annual Festival of Flowers is celebrated each June in Aibonito.
Aibonito had a BSN basketball franchise called the Polluelos de Aibonito. In 1986 they beat the defending champions, Atléticos de San Germán, in seven games to win their only championship. In 1987, the Polluelos reached the finals once again, but that time, they lost in seven games to the Titanes de Morovis. Recently, the Polluelos have not been able to see action on the BSN's tournaments because of economic and team ownership problems. Also Aibonito had a Double AA baseball. The franchise is also Polluelos de Aibonito. In 1966 they won the only baseball championship.
Festivals and events
Aibonito celebrates its patron saint festival in late July or early August. The Fiestas Patronales de Santiago Apostol is a religious and cultural celebration that generally features parades, games, artisans, amusement rides, regional food, and live entertainment.
Aibonito celebrates a Flower Festival between late June and early July. During this event, many visitors from other towns and countries come to Aibonito to see a huge display of various flowers and others. Aibonito also celebrates a Festival de la Montaña in November.
Aibonito has several plantations of tobacco and coffee. They are also known for their flower plantations. Also, a popular chicken producer in the island, To-Ricos, operates from Aibonito.
Baxter International has one of its factories located in Aibonito. They produce medical tools for the hospitals and other medical uses.
In 2014, William Alicea Pérez, the mayor of Aibonito stressed that many improvements had been made to the town and municipality of Aibonito and to its urban center. Several infrastructure projects were completed in 2014, including the inauguration of an assisted living center, and a stadium and he announced future plans for a gym, progress on another stadium and other projects that were under way for the benefit of Aibonito. Pérez indicated that its urban center had been transformed and would continue to be improved upon. The construction of a gym for boxing and martial arts is underway with the help of Miguel Cotto, a Puerto Rican boxing champion.
All municipalities in Puerto Rico are administered by a mayor, elected every four years. On November 4, 2008, William Alicea Pérez (of the New Progressive Party), won the elections, beating former mayor Jose Alberto Diaz (PPD) by 3,658 votes.
There are 15 bridges in Aibonito.
The flag of Aibonito features four equal horizontal bands of blue, white, red, and yellow; a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears the town's coat of arms.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms features a four-paneled shield. The upper left corner features the Asomante mountain with a sword in front, representing the last battles of the Spanish–American War that took place there. The upper right corner features a white band on a blue field, symbolizing the fog that covers the region in winter. To each side of the band, a purple color flower and a golden lily. The lower left corner features the gold tower of Casa Manresa, to symbolize the spiritual value of the institution. In the lower right corner a divided green mountain which represents the Cañon San Cristóbal with a seashell above it that symbolizes Apostle James.
- Obie Bermudez, artist
- Rubén Berrios Martínez, politician
- Rafael Pont Flores, journalist
- Eliu Rivera, New Jersey politician
- Ramón Vázquez, baseball player and coach
- Orlando Rosa, 1996 Olympian Freestyle Wrestling
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