When one talks about Puerto Vallarta, a sunny holiday destination with wide pristine beaches that boast calm and turquoise waters usually comes to mind. In addition to this popular image, the city also has a rich history.
In the early nineteenth century, Puerto Vallarta was a place of natural beauty. It was isolated, and it had virtually no human population until around the middle of the century. It was around that time when boatman Guadelupe Sanchez, tired of going back and forth transporting salt from the area, decided to settle in this place with his wife. This even is considered by many as the founding of the place we now call Puerto Vallarta.
During the early years of the twentieth century, Puerto Vallarta was booming with agricultural activity. Taking advantage of the place’s fertile and rich land, the Montgomery Fruit company started growing and exporting “green gold”, or unripe bananas, to the United States. This brought economic success in the town. The success, however, only lasted until the government repossessed the company’s land.
At this point, Puerto Vallarta had to find another way to sustain its economic growth. The locals then used fish and sharks from the Banderas Bay to make some money. During the Second World War, shark liver oil was in high demand as it provided nutrition to the US soldiers. Also, delicacies made from shark in American restaurants were in high demand, allowing Puerto Vallarta to rise once again.
During the modernization period, the style for which Puerto Vallarta is now famous for was developed. The white adobe buildings and houses with complex wrought iron gates, stone walls, and red tile roofs became the unique and iconic image of the place. Famous houses like Caracol, Los Arcos, and Casa de la “O” were erected in the 1950s as well. Some old structures can still be seen today.
Puerto Vallarta emerged as a major tourist destination in the 1960s, thanks to intensive promotion and advertising. It eventually became an official city and received funds to build highways, a bridge across the Ameca River, and an international airport. During the presidency of Medina Acencio, telephone service and electricity became available in the area.
1990s to present
In the 1990s, Puerto Vallarta was promoted heavily domestically and internationally as a major destination for beach lovers, and it still is today.