From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mazatlán is a city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa; the surrounding
municipio (municipality) for which the city serves as the municipal seat is
also called Mazatlán. It is located at 23°13′N 106°25′W / 23.217°N 106
417°W / 23.217; -106.417 on the Pacific coast, just across from the
southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula.
Mazatlán is a Nahuatl word meaning "place of the deer." The city was founded
in 1531. By the mid-1800s a large group of immigrants had arrived from
Germany. These new citizens developed Mazatlán into a thriving commercial
seaport, importing equipment for the nearby gold and silver mines. It served
as the capital of Sinaloa from 1859 to 1873. They also influenced the music,
banda, which is an alteration of Bavarian folk music, and also started the
Pacifico Brewery on March 14, 1900.
Mazatlán, with a population of 352,471 (city) and 403,888 (municipality) as
of the 2005 census, is the second-largest city in the state (after Culiacán)
and Mexico's largest commercial port. It is also a popular tourist
destination,with its beaches lined with resort hotels. A car ferry plies its
trade across the Gulf of California from Mazatlán to La Paz, Baja California
Sur. The municipality has a land area of 3,068.48 km² (1,184.75 sq mi) and
includes smaller outlying communities such as Villa Unión, La Noria, El
Quelite, El Habal and many other small villages.
Until the early 19th century, Mazatlán was a humble collection of huts
inhabited by indios whose major occupation was fishing, according to Abel
Aubert du Petit-Thouars, a French explorer. In 1829 a Filipino banker named
Machado arrived and established commercial relations with vessels coming to
Mazatlán from far off places such as Chile, Peru, the United States, Europe,
and the Asia Pacific. By 1836 the city had a population of between 4000 and
The city has seen some turbulent times. During the Mexican-American War
(1846-48) the U.S. Army took the city and, in order to avoid the shelling of
the city, the Mexican army abandoned it. Almost twenty years later, on the
morning of November 13, 1864, a French man-of-war fired on the city twelve
times but there were no casualties; Mazatlán then became part of the Mexican
Empire under Maximilian (vestiges of French influence may still be found in
the architecture of many buildings in Centro Historico). On November 13,
1866, the Mexican general Ramon Corona expelled the imperialists from
On June 18, 1868, William H. Bridge, captain of HMS Chanticleer, blockaded
the port and threatened to shell the city on June 22. The captain had taken
umbrage after local Customs Authorities seized 23 ounces of gold from the
paymaster of the ship.
The City of Mazatlán has the dubious distinction of being the second city in
the world after Tripoli, Libya, to suffer aerial bombardment (although the
local historical display at the plazuela affirms that Mazatlán was the
first). During the Mexican revolution of 1910-17 General Venustiano Carranza
(later president), intent on taking the city of Mazatlán, ordered a bi-plane
to drop a crude bomb of nails and dynamite wrapped in leather on the target
of Neveria Hill adjacent to the downtown area of Mazatlán. The crude bomb
landed off target on the city streets of Mazatlán, killing two citizens and
wounding several others.
During the Gold Rush, fortune hunters from the United States East Coast
sailed from New York Harbor and other Atlantic ports to Mexican ports in the
Gulf of Mexico. Debarking, the aspiring miners travelled overland for weeks
to Mazatlán, where they would embark from the port to arrive in San
Francisco in another four to five weeks.
Mazatlán's lighthouse (El Faro) began to shine by mid-1879. The lamp had
been handcrafted in Paris, containing a big oil lamp with mirrors and a
Fresnel lens to enhance the light. Since the light was static, in the
distance it was often mistaken for a star. By 1905 this lamp was converted
to a revolving lamp. Today, the 1000 watt bulb can be seen for 30 nautical
miles (60 km). Near the lighthouse shore, famous "divers" (called this even
by the Spanish speaking inhabitants of Mazatlán) perform daring jumps off
high rocks into the Pacific Ocean for tips from onlooking tourists.
Angela Peralta (1845-1883), a Mexican opera diva famed throughout the world,
died of yellow fever in Mazatlán shortly after her arrival in the port.
Legend has it she sang one last aria from her hotel balcony overlooking the
Plazuela Machado. Her memory is held dear by Mazatlécos to this day, and the
restored Teatro Angela Peralta by the Plazuela keeps her memory alive.
Mazatlán is also the hometown of Pedro Infante, one of the most popular
actors and singers of the golden years of the Cinema of Mexico.
Mazatlán was well regarded by film stars such as John Wayne, Gary Cooper,
John Huston, and others of their generation as a sportfishing mecca. The
hotels along Olas Altas flourished during the 40's, 50's and 60's supporting
this vibrant trade.
In the 70's, tourism in Old Mazatlán declined as other, newer venues opened
on the expanses of beach to the north of the city. As an example of Mazatlán
s tourism expansion, one of the largest timeshare providers in Mexico, Mayan
Resorts was founded in 1975 with the inauguration of Paraíso Mazatlán
(Mazatlán Paradise). This time also saw the expansion of the Hotel Playa
Mazatlán and the construction of many others, a trend that continues to this
As the 21st Century begins, the Centro Histórico has been rediscovered by
newcomers and locals alike, spurring a renaissance of restoration and
entrepreneurial endeavors. Once-fine homes that had fallen into literal ruin
have been restored to their former glory and house families and boutique
businesses. The city has assisted in upgrading infrastructure, such as
better water, sewer and electrical services.
The climate regime of the municipality of Mazatlán is transitional Tropical
wet and dry with a marked dry season in the winter; however, as it is at the
transition zone with the semi-arid climate to the north (BSh), the dry
season is longer than most areas of similar classification. The wet season
(July to September) is short, very rainy, and very humid.
During the 1940-1980 period, the municipality saw an average annual rainfall
of 748 mm, a maximum of 215.4 mm in 24 hours, and 90.4 millimeters in one
hour. During this same period, the average annual rate of evaporation was
2146.80 mm. The prevailing winds are from the northwest at an average speed
of 5.0 meters per second.
Culture and contemporary life
Mazatlan is home to the Teatro Angela Peralta, located on the Plazuela
Machado. Originally built from 1869 to 1874, the Teatro, completely restored
from 1987 to 1992 to its 19th-century splendor, houses a concert hall,
galleries, an art school and a highly regarded conservatory of music and
Artists such as classical musician Enrique Patron de Rueda and the Machado
Orchestra perform regularly. The Sinaloa Symphony, local productions and a
diverse program of touring artists keep the Teatro busy throughout the year.
The Plazuela Machado, located in Centro Histórico, serves as the cultural
hub of the city featuring open air restaurants, pageants, public art
exhibits, a weekly craft fair and nightly entertainment. Calle Constitución,
the only through street, is closed to vehicle traffic in the evenings from
Thursday through Sunday.
Mazatlán hosts one of the largest celebrations of Carnaval in the world.
Culminating on Fat Tuesday, this weeklong bacchanal attracts visitors from
all over the world with its parades, cultural events and partying.
Mazatlan is served by Gral. Rafael Buelna International Airport with flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Mexico City, Guadalajara, La Paz and San Jose del Cabo B.C.S., Tijuana B.C., and Puerto Vallarta. In addition, numerous bus lines provide transportation to all points in Mexico and to the United States. There is also ferry service to La Paz B.C.S.