A little over 200 years ago,
San Jose (San Pedro) was no more than a few muddy streets around
which clustered an assembly of rickety buildings. In 1737 this little
village first gained status, when a thatched habitation was built
to draw residents scattered throughout the valley. Without drawing
too much attention, the first wholesale influx was comprised of
Spanish and Creole smugglers, whom of which spoke Biesanz et al.,
"having rebelled against the royal monopoly of commerce by
resorting to contraband, were punished by being 'exiled' from Cartago,"
the colonial capitol city formed by Juan Vasquez de Coronado in
1564. The newly founded settlement was christened Villa Nueva de
la Boca del Monte del Valle de Abra. Later changed to San Jose,
the name of a local patron saint.
Thanks to the merchants' bold
ways, San Jose (San Pedro) flourished and quickly grew to the size
of Cartago. By the 1820's, San Jose (San Pedro) and Cartago both
had just over 5,000 inhabitants, Heredia half the amount, and Alajuela
a bit over 1,800. Soon San Jose developed into a lucrative monopoly
in the tobacco trade. Tobacco funds provided a civic building; near
the end of the 18th century, San Jose was crowned with a Cathedral
facing a beautiful park, a currency mint, military quarters and
a town council building.
In October 1821 news was passed
from Spain to Maceta central; The surprising announcement was that
Costa Rica was an independent country. Soon the counsels of the
four cities sat down to determine their fate, and a constitution-Pacto
de Concordia-inspired from the 1812 Spanish constitution. Alas,
exclaimed historian Carlos Monge Alfaro, early Costa Rica was not
a unified province, rather a "group of villages separated by
narrow regionalisms." Now the four cities felt and performed
as had the city-states of Ancient Greece. The aristocratic and restrained
traditional leaders of Cartago and Heredia, with their colonial
links, favored annexation to a Central American federation led by
Mexico; the progressively more republican force of San Jose and
Alajuela, convinced by the revolutionary ideas predominant in Europe,
argued for independence. A bloody struggle for regional control
soon took place.
On April 5, 1823, the two sides
ensued a battle in the Ochomogo Hills. The republican forces commanded
by a former merchant seaman named Gregorio Jose Ramirez, won victory
and then stormed through Cartago. In a landmark act that set a precedent
to be followed in later years, the civilian hero Ramirez relinquished
power and retired to his farm, then returned to foil a brilliantly
executed army stratagem.
Thus San Jose became the nations
capitol city. It's growing popularity, however, soon engendered
resentment and discontent. In a conciliatory act in March of 1835,
San Jose's leaders offered to rotate the national capitol among
the four cities every four years. Discontently, the other cities-including
Alajuela-had a thorn in their collective side. In September 1837
they formed a league, chose a president, and on September 26, attacked
San Jose in an effort to overthrow the Bauilio Carillo government.
The Josefinos won what came to be called La Guerra de la Liga ("The
war of the League"). And so San Jose has remained the nation's
capitol ever since.
By the mid 1800's the coffee
industry was bringing a boom in prosperity, culture, and refinement
to the once-humble village. San Jose developed a moderate middle
class hungry to invest its new found wealth for the social good.
The mud roads became brick highways illuminated by kerosene lamps.
Tramways appeared as well. San Jose was the third in the world to
install electric lighting for the public. Well ahead of other cities
throughout Europe and North America san Jose installed public telephones.
By the turn of the century, plazas and splendid buildings, lined
with trees catered to the flourishing movement-libraries, museums,
the Teatro Nacional, and gran neoclassical mansions and middle-class
homes-honored the city. Aided by the coffee income and influenced
by he Paris and Crystal Palace Expositions architects were erecting
great monuments and schools built of imported prefabricated metals.
Of course, the city wasn't without
slum like suburbs formed of puertas
ventanas, tiny workers' houses occupied by several families.
Industrial zones rose on the perimeter of the urban center. And
there were isolated sections populated by blacks who had defied
segregationist laws and settled in the Meseta Central.
As recently as the 1940's San
Jose still had only 70,000 residents, a mere tenth of the nations
population. After WW II, the capitol city began to mushroom, growing
without constraint, invading neighboring villages such as Guadalupe
and Tibas. Unfortunately, many many of the city's finest buildings
were destroyed by the demolition crane in post war years. Only to
be replaced by monstrous examples of modern architecture. This haphazard
growth continues as the city continues to grow farther afield until
the suburban districts have begun to meld into the larger complex.
Surrounding hills twinkle at night with the lights of suburban villages
that are slowly becoming part of the city's fold.
of the information on our site as it relates to Costa Rica is:
of Christopher P. Baker and Avalon Travel Publishing.
© 2004 Christopher P. Baker. All Rights Reserved.
A2Z Languages highly
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