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Aerial view of Santurce
Aerial view of Santurce

Santurce is a barrio in the municipality of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its population in 2010 was 81,251.[1][2][3] It is also the biggest and most populated of all the districts in the capital with a bigger population than most municipalities of Puerto Rico and one of the most densely populated areas of the island (15,447.0 persons per square mile).[4]


Santurce is one of the top ten most-populated areas of the island. It includes the neighborhoods of Miramar, Loíza, Isla Grande, Barrio Obrero, and Condado,[3] which are cultural hot spots for art, music, cuisine, fashion, hotels, technology, multimedia, film, textile and startups.

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded a total population of 81,251 people living in an area of 5.24 square miles (13.6 km2). It is the most populous borough (barrio) in Puerto Rico and one of the most densely populated areas of San Juan, at 15,447.0 residents per square mile (6,931.2/km²).[3]


Geographically speaking, Santurce is a peninsula that is attached to the mainland in the east, where it borders with the Isla Verde district of Carolina. It is 7.6 km long from west to east, and up to 3.0 km wide in the eastern part. The peninsula is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the north, with more than five km of beaches from the Condado peninsula in the west, to a point 600 m east of "Punta Las Marías", where it borders on the Isla Verde area, and "Laguna San José" and its northern embayment, "Laguna Los Corozos" to the east.

To the south is the Martín Peña Channel, which separates Santurce from the northern barrios of former municipio Río Piedras: Hato Rey Norte, Hato Rey Central, and Oriente. To the west is San Juan Bay, where three bridges, "Puente Dos Hermanos" (Ave. Ashford), "Puente G. Esteves" (Ave. Ponce de León) and "Puente San Antonio" (Ave. Fernandes Juncos) connect Santurce with "La Isleta" (small island) where Old San Juan is located. It has a total area of 8.70 square miles (22.5 km2) composed of 5.24 square miles (13.6 km2) of land and 3.46 square miles (9.0 km2) of water area.

The topography is mainly flat with low hills toward the central areas and swampy areas to the south along the Martín Peña Channel and to the east near the Laguna San José (San José Lagoon). The highest point is at Monteflores with 23 meters (75 feet).


Santurce is located along the north-eastern coast of Puerto Rico. It lies south of the Atlantic Ocean, east of Old San Juan and west of Isla Verde. The district occupies an area of 5.24 square miles (13.6 km2) of land and 3.46 (8.96 km2) of water. It is surrounded by six bodies of water: San Juan Bay, Condado Natural Lagoon, the Martín Peña Channel, San José Lagoon, Los Corozos Lagoon, and the Atlantic Ocean with its respective beaches and estuaries.[5]


Santurce was originally settled by the native Arawak and later by slaves of African ancestry who arrived from the neighboring Danish West Indies. Throughout the centuries, the district continued to grow due to its crossfade location between San Juan and its southern suburbs.[6]

In 1876, an engineer from the port town of Santurtzi in Spain's autonomous Basque Country region known as Pablo Ubarri arrived on the island to help in the construction of a railroad system and a steam tramway between San Juan and the town of Río Piedras through the center of "Cangrejos" which prompted the gentrification of the district. Many years after his arrival he was granted the title of Count of Santurce (which is the Hispanicized equivalent of Santurtzi) by the Spanish Crown. With his newly acquired title and influence, the district was renamed after his title (a decision that has caused controversy ever since). The neighboring Condado also received its present-name from Ubarri's title, as the district's name literally translates to "county" (which in medieval tradition is land granted by a monarch to a count).[7]

The Treaty of Paris provided that Cuba would become independent from Spain but the U.S. Congress made sure it would be under U.S. control through the Platt Amendment. It ceded to the United States Puerto Rico, and other adjacent islands then under Spanish sovereignty in the Caribbean, as well as Guam and the Philippines in Asia-Pacific region.[8]

The United States Army established the now historical Camp Las Casas, in the area of "Las Casas" in 1904. The camp was the main training base of the "Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry" (on January 15, 1899, the military government changed the name of Puerto Rico to Porto Rico and on May 17, 1932, U.S. Congress changed the name back to "Puerto Rico") The Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry was a segregated U.S. Army Regiment which was later renamed the "65th Infantry Regiment". Correction on the previous statement : The 65th Infantry Regiment was not segregated. It was a Regular Army Regiment that accepted personnel of every race but blacks, there was a black Regiment in the Island for that purpose, the 375th Regiment. The base continued in operation until 1946, when it was finally closed and the Residencial Las Casas now stands.[9]

When after the Treaty of Paris, the U.S. conducted its first census of Puerto Rico, the population of Santurce was 5,840.[8]

In the 20th century the conurbation of the San Juan metropolis expanded rapidly beyond its walled confines of Old San Juan to incorporate the boroughs of suburban Miramar, Santurce, Isla Grande, and Condado, along the coast, as well as industrial Hato Rey, with its large sports stadium and modern financial district, and the college town of Río Piedras, immediately to the southeast.[10] Between 1937 and 1948, Santurce along with neighboring district Miramar became one of the most vibrant areas of the capital.[11] However, by the 1970s, most of the district had fallen into decay, losing the luster and vibrancy it once had. Many residents left Santurce, fleeing to the suburbs.[12] By 1980 the San Juan metropolitan area included the surrounding municipalities to the east and west and had about one-third of Puerto Rico's total population; that proportion has grown to two-thirds of the population.[13]

Santurce saw a period of economic decline coupled with the financial crisis of the local banking[14] & mortgage system.[15] In 2009, the district began a period of cosmopolitan revival and economic growth[16] as many local establishments such as bars, clubs, and restaurants opened their doors due to the importance of trade and tourism. What helped was the decrease in rent, it attracted artists to the area.[12]

Since then, Santurce began experiencing gentrification and is now hailed by many as Puerto Rico's "hipster Haven".[17][18]


Santurce has a community of 81,251 of inhabitants living in a land area of 5.24 square miles (13.6 km2). It is subdivided into 40 "subbarrios" (sub-districts).

For centuries "barrios" have been the first "geo-political" division of Puerto Rico's municipalities, however presently they primarily serve statistical purposes for both the U.S. Census Bureau & the Puerto Rico Planning Board. The most densely populated area lies to the southeast bordering the San José Lagoon and the Martín Peña Channel, while the least densely populated areas are found by the mangrove swamps to the south surrounding the Martín Peña Channel, and the western area of Isla Grande, a decommissioned United States Navy military base.[1][8][2]


Structures of architectural value and historical importance are located mainly throughout Avenida Ponce de León, Ashford Avenue and Avenida Fernández Juncos.

  • La Placita de Santurce: Encompassing Campo Alegre, Alto del Cabro, and the Plaza del Mercado (a farmers' market full of local vendors with a social environment, bars, & restaurants),[20] La Placita de Santurce is one of the most popular nightlife areas in San Juan.[21][22]
  • La Ventana al Mar (2004): Designed by Andrés Mignucci
  • Plaza Antonia Quiñones (akas: Plaza Stella-Maris; Placita del Condado; 2000); designed by Andrés Mignucci


Public transportation is provided by several bus lines (locally known as guaguas) operated by the Puerto Rico Metropolitan Bus Authority and circulate along the main avenues of Ponce de León and Fernández Juncos among others.

In the peripheries of Santurce there is a rapid transit system called Tren Urbano. The Sagrado Corazón terminal station is located in the southeast section of the district in the neighborhood of Martín Peña.

Santurce is a few minutes away by car from the country's main airport, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, and from San Juan's secondary commercial airport, Isla Grande Airport.


Santurce is the main residence of two major museums on the island.


Santurce is home to some of the most prestigious private education institutions in Puerto Rico.

It also includes notable public schools:

Synagogues and cathedrals

Santurce is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Puerto Rico with over 1,500 people attending two local synagogues. Jews were officially prohibited from settling in the island through much of its history, but many managed to settle in the island as secret Jews.[23]

Many arrived from France, the Netherlands, Saint-Barthélemy and Curaçao after World War II. A minor portion are descendants of Jewish Cubans who came to establishment after Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution of 1959. Like in many former Spanish colonies founded soon after the Spanish Inquisition, there are some Puerto Ricans who are Crypto-Jews. Recent DNA ancestry has identified a number of Portuguese descendants who arrived in Puerto Rico after the start of the Portuguese Inquisition in 1536. These are descendants of Conversó families. There are some who maintain elements of Jewish traditions, although they themselves are, or were raised as Christians.


Santurce has the most modern swimming facilities in the Caribbean and fourth in the world. It is an Olympic aquatic sports facility used to host local and international events such as the 2nd A.S.U.A Pan American Masters Swimming Championship. The San Juan Natatorium is located in Santurce's Central Park.

The district also has a baseball and a basketball team both known as the Santurce Crabbers (Cangrejeros de Santurce) because of the original name of the township. They have been part of the community for over 70 years. Both teams have enjoyed great domestic success, the baseball team is regarded as the ‘New York Yankees of Puerto Rico’, largely in part to the accomplishments of its legendary players, such as Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays.


Santurce has an extensive healthcare network which includes two of the finest hospitals on the island, Ashford Presbyterian Community Hospital and Pavia Hospital.


Santurce experienced significant economic growth following World War II. During this period the district underwent an economic revitalization. Tourism is also a key industry based on Santurce's proximity to Puerto Rico's main international airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, and the smaller Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport. The concentration of hotels are primarily located in the Condado area where there are numerous luxurious hotels including La Concha Resort, Marriott and the Conrad Hotel.

Notable residents

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