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Ponce Coat of Arms

Ponce PR City Hall, 1905
City Hall - Ponce, Puerto Rico - Circa 1905

Ponce Coat of Arms

Ponce

Ponce is situated on the south central shore of the Island of Puerto Rico. The Cordillera Central mountain range separates the north of the island from the south, not only by land mass but also by attitudes and culture. Whereas these differences may be subtle at first glance, the changes in appearance of the landscape is more pronounced. In the north, urban communities tend to be large and span even up the side of the mountain. On the other hand, the Ponce side of the mountain is considered more rural, and is conspicuous by its open spaces and plenty of greenery. On the side of the mountain, instead of houses, you see thick green forest.

It is said that Ponce in the south is "as different from San Juan in the north as New Orleans is from New York City". While the French Quarters of New Orleans is reminiscent of the Old World architecture, Ponce's historic district is strongly reminiscent of 19th century Creole architecture.

It is no accident that the south of the island is so different from the north in culture, art and attitude. For over four centuries, the south was like a separate kingdom  unto itself. The lack of cultural exchange between north and south was assured by the difficulty of travel over the mountains. Even after a major highway was constructed in the 1980's, snaking through the mountain range, it still takes 1 1/2 hours to drive from San Juan in the north to Ponce in the south.

Over the last century or so, the north willingly accepted the influence of western culture with its tendency toward large sprawling metropolises, and the displacement of old values and attitudes. Ponce, on the other hand, has been content to retain its old traditions and culture. Ponce is not concerned about losing its long standing position as the second largest city in population after San Juan. On the contrary, she prefers to maintain her current size, and stick to its old traditions and culture.

Visitors, wanting to "party harty" western style, but in a different surrounding, will be content to remain in San Juan. If, on the other hand, visitors prefer the atmosphere and scenery of a traditional people with traditional culture and values, then Ponce is the place to go !

There IS no substitute !

PONCE COAT OF ARMS

* Partially adapted from, "Puerto Rico",  by - Randell Peffer ;  published by - Lonely Planet.

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