San Juan (; , Saint John), officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista (Municipality of the Capital City, Saint John the Baptist), is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of the United States. San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, who called it Ciudad de Puerto Rico ("Rich Port City"). Puerto Rico's capital is the second oldest European-established city in the Americas, after Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. Several historical buildings are located in San Juan; among the most notable are the city's former defensive forts, Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristóbal, and La Fortaleza, the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the Americas.
Today, San Juan is one of Puerto Rico's most important seaports, and is the island's manufacturing, financial, cultural, and tourism center. The population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area, including San Juan and the municipalities of Bayamón, Guaynabo, Cataño, Canóvanas, Caguas, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Carolina and Trujillo Alto, is about 2 million inhabitants; thus, about half the population of Puerto Rico now lives and works in this area. San Juan is also a principal city of the San Juan-Caguas-Fajardo Combined Statistical Area. The city has been the host of numerous important events within the sports community, including the 1979 Pan American Games, 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics, the Caribbean Series and the Special Olympics and MLB San Juan Series in 2010.
In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement Caparra (named after the province Caceres, Spain, the birthplace of then-governor of Spain's Caribbean territories Nicolás de Ovando), which today is known as the Pueblo Viejo sector of Guaynabo, just to the west of the present San Juan metropolitan area. A year later, the settlement was moved to a site then called Puerto Rico, Spanish for "rich port" or "good port", after its similar geographical features to the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. In 1521, the newer settlement was given its formal name, San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, in honor of John the Baptist, following the tradition of christening the town with both its formal name and the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island.
The ambiguous use of San Juan Bautista and Puerto Rico for both the city and the island led to a reversal in practical use by most inhabitants: by 1746, the name for the city (Puerto Rico) had become that of the entire island, while the name for the Island (San Juan Bautista) had become the name for the city.
San Juan, as a settlement of the Spanish Empire, was used by merchant and military ships traveling from Spain as the first stopover in the Americas. Because of its prominence in the Caribbean, a network of fortifications was built to protect the transports of gold and silver from the New World to Europe. Because of the rich cargoes, San Juan became a target of the foreign powers of the time.
The city was witness to attacks from the English led by Sir Francis Drake in 1595 (in what is known as the Battle of Puerto Rico) and by George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, in 1598. Artillery from San Juan's fort, El Morro, repelled Drake; however, Clifford managed to land troops and lay siege to the city. After a few months of British occupation, Clifford was forced to abandon the siege when his troops began to suffer from exhaustion and sickness. In 1625 the city was sacked by Dutch forces led by Captain Balduino Enrico (also known as Boudewijn Hendricksz/Bowdoin Henrick), but El Morro withstood the assault and was not taken. The Dutch were counterattacked by Captain Juan de Amezquita and 50 members of the civilian militia on land and by the cannons of the Spanish troops in El Morro Castle. The land battle left 60 Dutch soldiers dead and Enrico with a sword wound to his neck which he received from the hands of Amezquita. The Dutch ships at sea were boarded by Puerto Ricans who defeated those aboard. After a long battle, the Spanish soldiers and volunteers of the city's militia were able to defend the city from the attack and save the island from an invasion. On October 21, Enrico set La Fortaleza and the city ablaze. Captains Amezquita and Andre Botello decided to put a stop to the destruction and led 200 men in an attack against the enemy's front and rear guard. They drove Enrico and his men from their trenches and into the ocean in their haste to reach their ships.
The English attacked again in 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, led by Sir Ralph Abercromby (who had just conquered Trinidad). His army laid siege to the city but was forced to withdraw in defeat as the Puerto Rican defenses proved more resilient than those of Trinidad. Various events and circumstances, including liberalized commerce with Spain, the opening of the island to immigrants as a direct result of the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815, and the colonial revolutions, led to an expansion of San Juan and other Puerto Rican settlements in the late 18th and early 19th century.
On May 8, 1898, United States Navy ships, among them the , , , , and , commanded by Rear Admiral William T. Sampson arrived at San Juan Bay. The USS Yale captured a Spanish freighter, the Rita in San Juan Bay, thus being the first hostile encounter between the warring sides in Puerto Rico. On May 9, Yale fought a brief battle with an auxiliary cruiser of Spain, name unknown, resulting in a Spanish victory. Around this time, Captain Ángel Rivero Méndez was assigned the command of the Spanish forces in the fortress of San Cristóbal in San Juan. On May 10, the Yale returned to San Juan Bay, Rivero-Méndez ordered his men to open fire upon the using an Ordoñez 15 centimeter cannon, thus becoming the first attack against the Americans in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War. For his actions, Captain Rivero-Mendez was awarded the "Cruz de la Orden de Merito Militar" (The Cross of the Order of the Military Merit) first class. The residents of San Juan were furious with Rivero and blamed him for the destruction caused to their city by the American bombardments. Nothing came of those accusations and Capt. Rivero-Méndez was ordered to turn over the keys of all the military installations in San Juan to Captain Henry A. Reed of the U.S. Army after the Treaty of Paris of 1898 was signed. On July 25, General Nelson A. Miles landed at Guánica (in southwestern Puerto Rico) with 3,300 soldiers in what was known as the Puerto Rico Campaign. The American troops found some resistance and engaged the Spanish and Puerto Rican troops in battle, the most notable of these the Battles of Yauco and Asomante. All military actions in Puerto Rico were suspended August 13, 1898, after President William McKinley and French Ambassador Jules Cambon, acting on behalf of the Spanish government, signed an armistice. Spain ceded the island to the United States later the same year by signing the Treaty of Paris. Camp Las Casas, located in the district of Santurce, served as the main training camp for the Puerto Rican soldiers prior to World War I and World War II; the majority of the men trained in this facility were assigned to the "Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry" which was renamed the 65th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army by the Reorganization Act of June 4, 1920. The 65th Infantry was deactivated in 1956 and became the only unit ever to be transferred from an active Army component to the Puerto Rico National Guard.
Lieutenant Teofilo Marxuach (Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel), a native of Arroyo, Puerto Rico, fired the first shot in what is considered to be the first shot of World War I fired by the regular armed forces of the United States against any ship flying the colors of the Central Powers Marxuach, who was a member of the "Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry" and Officer of the Day, on March 25, 1915, opened fire on the Odenwald, an armed German supply vessel, when it was trying to force its way out of San Juan's bay. The shots ordered by Lt. Marxuach were the first fired by the United States in World War I.
In 1919, Félix Rigau Carrera, "El Aguila de Sabana Grande" (The Eagle from Sabana Grande), the first Hispanic fighter pilot in the United States Marine Corps and first Puerto Rican pilot, became the first native Puerto Rican to fly an aircraft in the island when he flew his Curtiss JN-4 from Las Casas. At the time, the area was used by the military as an air base and it was also Puerto Rico's first commercial airport, and Rigau Carrera was allowed to perform his historic flight from the air field. Camp Las Casas was eventually closed down, and in 1950 a public housing project by the name of Residencial Fray Bartolome de Las Casas was constructed on its former location.
On January 2, 1947, the people of San Juan elected Felisa Rincón de Gautier (also known as Doña Fela) (1897–1994) as their mayor. Thus, she became the first woman to be elected as the Mayor of a capital city in any of The Americas. During the Cold War era, she ordered the establishment of the island's first Civil Defense system under the directorship of Colonel Gilberto Jose Marxuach (Teofilo's son). Rincón de Gautier served as mayor until January 2, 1969.
On October 30, 1950, San Juan was the scene of the San Juan Uprising, one of many uprisings which occurred in various towns and cities in Puerto Rico, by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party against the governments of Puerto Rico and the United States. Among the uprising's main objective was to attack "La Fortaleza" (the Governors mansion) and the United States Federal Court House Building in Old San Juan. In accordance to the planned uprising in San Juan, a group of nationalists were supposed to attack simultaneously the gubernatorial mansion La Fortaleza, where Puerto Rican governor Luis Muñoz Marín resided, and the United States Federal Court House which is located close to an area called "La Marina" in Old San Juan. The La Fortaleza battle, which ensued between the nationalists and the police lasted 15 minutes, and ended when four of the five attackers were killed.
Coat of arms and flag of San Juan
On March 8, 1948 the city government of San Juan officially adopted as the city's first flag an orange field, in the center of which is the Coat of Arms of the City. The orange color was based and taken from Father Diego de Torres Vargas' text and it reads : "Escudo de armas dado a Puerto Rico por los Reyes Católicos en el año de 1511, siendo Procurador un vecino llamado Pedro Moreno. Son : un cordero blanco con su banderilla colorada, sobre un libro, y todo sobre una isla verde, que es la de Puerto Rico, y por los lados una F y una I, que quiere decir Fernando e Isabel, los Reyes Católicos que se las dieron, y hoy se conservan en el estandarte real, que es de damasco anaranjado, con que se ganó la ciudad" ("Coat of Arms given to Puerto Rico by the Catholic Monarchs in the year 1511 being Procurator a vecino named Pedro Moreno. They are: a white lamb with a red flag, on top of a book, and everything above a green island, which is Puerto Rico...which is of orange damask, with which the city was won"). It appears that the color was changed from orange to white at some point.