Valparaíso

Valparaíso
Montaje de Valparaíso.jpg
Flag
Flag
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Map of the Valparaíso commune in the Valparaíso Region
Location in Chile
Location in Chile
Valparaíso
Location in Chile
Nickname(s): 
The Jewel of the Pacific, Valpo
Coordinates (city): 33°03′S 71°37′W / 33°03′S 71°37′W / -33.050; -71.617

Valparaíso (/; Spanish: [balpaɾaˈiso]) is a major city, seaport, and educational centre in the commune of Valparaíso, Chile. "Greater Valparaíso" is the third largest metropolitan area in the country. Valparaíso is located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) northwest of Santiago by road and is one of the South Pacific's most important seaports. Valparaíso is the capital of Chile's second most populated administrative region and has been the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990. Valparaíso has seven universities.

Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, as a magnet for European immigrants, when the city was known by international sailors as "Little San Francisco" and "The Jewel of the Pacific".[3] In 2003, the historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.

Notable features include Latin America's oldest stock exchange, the continent's first volunteer fire department, Chile's first public library, and the oldest Spanish language newspaper in continuous publication in the world, El Mercurio de Valparaíso.

The second half of the twentieth century was unfavorable to Valparaíso, as many wealthy families abandoned the city. The opening of the Panama Canal and reduction in ship traffic dealt a serious blow to Valparaíso's port-based economy. Over the first 15 years of the twenty-first century the city reached a recovery, attracting artists and cultural entrepreneurs who have set up in the city's hillside historic districts. Today, many thousands of tourists visit Valparaíso from around the world to enjoy the city's labyrinth of cobbled alleys and colorful buildings. The port of Valparaíso continues to be a major distribution center for container traffic, copper, and fruit exports. Valparaíso also receives growing attention from cruise ships that visit during the South American summer. Most significantly, Valparaíso has transformed itself into a major educational center with four large traditional universities and several large vocational colleges. The city exemplifies Chilean culture, with festivals every year, and street artists and musicians.

History

The Bay of Valparaíso was probably first populated by the Picunche natives, known for their agriculture, or the Chango people, who were nomads dedicated to fishing, and traveling between modern-day Caldera and Concepcion. Spanish explorers, considered the first European discoverers of Chile, arrived in 1536, aboard the Santiaguillo, a supply ship sent by Diego de Almagro. The Santiaguillo carried men and supplies for Almagro's expedition, under the command of Juan de Saavedra, who named the town after his native village of Valparaíso de Arriba in Cuenca Province, Spain.

View of Valparaíso Bay (1830)

During Spanish colonial times, Valparaíso remained a small village, with only a few houses and a church.

In 1810, a wealthy merchant built the first pier in the history of Chile and the first during the colonial era. In its place today, stands the building of El Mercurio de Valparaíso. The ocean then rose to this point. Reclamation of land from the sea moved the coastline five blocks away. Between 1810 and 1830, he built much of the existing port of the city, including much of the land reclamation work that now provides the city's commercial centre.[citation needed]

In 1814, the naval Battle of Valaparaiso was fought offshore of the town, between American and British ships involved in the War of 1812.

After Chile's independence from Spain (1818), beginning the Republican Era, Valparaíso became the main harbour for the nascent Chilean navy, and opened international trade opportunities that had been formerly limited to Spain and its other colonies.

Valparaíso (c. 1863)

Valparaíso soon became a desired stopover for ships rounding South America via the Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn. It gained particular importance supporting and supplying the California Gold Rush (1848–1858). As a major seaport, Valparaíso received immigrants from many European countries, mainly from Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy. German, French, Italian and English were commonly spoken among its citizens, who founded and published newspapers in these languages.

International immigration transformed the local culture from Spanish origins and Amerindian origins, in ways that included the construction of the first non-Catholic cemetery of Chile, the Dissidents' Cemetery. Football (soccer) was introduced to Chile by English immigrants; and the first private Catholic school in Chile (Le Collège des Sacrés Cœurs, "The College of the Sacred Hearts"), French immigrants in Valparaíso; which has been operating for about 170 years. Immigrants from Scotland and Germany founded the first private secular schools, (The Mackay School, and Die Deutsche Schule, respectively). Immigrants formed the first volunteer fire-fighting units (still a volunteer activity in Chile). Their buildings reflected a variety of European styles, making Valparaíso more varied than some other Chilean cities.

In August 18, 1906, a major earthquake struck Valparaíso; there was extensive property damage and thousands of deaths. The Chilean doctor, Carlos Van Buren, of U.S. descent, was involved in medical care of earthquake victims. He later established a modern hospital Carlos Van Buren Hospital in 1912.[citation needed]

The golden age of Valparaíso's commerce ended after the opening of the Panama Canal (1914). Shipping shifted to the canal as captains sought to avoid the risks of the Strait of Magellan. The port's use and traffic declined significantly, causing a decline in the city's economy. Since the turn of the 21st century, shipping has increased in the last few decades with fruit exports, increasing opening of the Chilean economy to world commerce, and larger-scale, Post-Panamax ships that do not fit the Panama Canal.

19th century

Daguerreotype of Valparaíso about 1852
Picture of the Church of San Francisco in 1864
Picture of the city in 1888

On March 28, 1814, the USS Essex was defeated by British frigates Phoebe and Cherub during the War of 1812, leading to the deaths of 58 US Marines. (Captain David Porter, a survivor of this attack, would retire to Portersville, IN and request changing the name to Valparaíso, commemorating the only naval battle he ever lost.) By August 2, 1820, the Liberating Expedition of Peru sails from Valparaíso.

At half past ten on the evening of November 19, 1822, Valparaíso experienced a violent earthquake that left the city in ruins; of the 16,000 residents, casualties included at least 66 adults and 12 children, as well as 110 people wounded. The next day, a meteor trail was visible from Quillota to Valparaíso, seen as a religious experience for much of the population.

In 1826, the Royal Navy Great Britain established a South America Station in Valparaíso to maintain British naval interest in the region. It would remain until 1837, when it was relocated to Esquimalt, British Columbia.

September 12, 1827 saw the establishment of El Mercurio de Valparaíso, currently the oldest circulating newspaper in the Spanish language worldwide.

In May 1828, a constitutional convention began regular meetings in the church of San Francisco. By August 9, the Constitution of the Republic of Chile was fully drafted and disseminated.

On June 6, 1837, Minister Diego Portales was shot at the port outside of Baron Hill on suspicion of promoting conspirators who opposed the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, considered a turning point of Chilean public opinion and the purpose of the war.

By 1851, the first fire brigade in the country was formed. The next year potable running water became available, as well as the first telegraph service in Latin America, between the city and Santiago. It would be another four years before streetlights, with 700 gas lanterns, were installed. In 1861 the first tram company was formed, mostly using horse or mules to draw them, and fully established over the next few years.

Taking advantage of the total lack of defenses, a Spanish fleet commanded by Casto Méndez Núñez bombarded the city during the Chincha Islands War in 1866. Chilean merchant ships were sunk, except for those vessels whose captains hoisted foreign flags.

A merger of the National Steamship Company and Chilean Steamship Company, the South American Steamship Company was created as a national response to the increasing dominance of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company in 1872. In 1880 the Chilean Telephone Company was formed by Americans Joseph Husbands, Peter MacKellar, James Martin, and the US consul Lucius Foot, the first official telephone company in the country. Three years later on the first of December, Concepción funicular opened, the first of many hydraulic systems.

After the country's independence and its consequent openness to international trade, Valparaíso became an important port of call on trade routes through the Eastern Pacific. Many immigrants settled there, mostly from Europe and North America, who helped include Valparaíso and Chile in the industrial revolution sweeping other parts of the world. This created a different city with civil, financial, commercial and industrial institutions, many of which still exist today.

All this resulted in a population increases. The city reached more than 160,000 inhabitants in the late nineteenth century, making it necessary to use the steep hills for more houses, mansions and even cemeteries. The lack of available land caused the city authorities and developers to reclaim low lying tidal marshland (polders) upon which to build administrative, commercial and industrial infrastructure.

20th century

Headlines of El Mercurio de Valparaíso on May 14, 1903

The twentieth century began with the first big protest of dockworkers, Chile on April 15, 1903, due to complaints by dockers about their excessive working hours and demands for higher wages, requests that were ignored by employers, creating a tense situation that led to serious violence on May 12. There were protests and the burning of the CSAV offices and several people were shot and killed. All this prompted intervention by the state. This protest was important for the future of Trade Unionism in the country.

The same year, electric trams were introduced.

The 1906 Valparaíso earthquake caused severe damage throughout the city on August 16, which was at that time the heart of the Chilean economy.

Damage was valued at hundreds of millions of pesos of the time, and human victims were counted at 3,000 dead and over 20,000 injured. After the removal of the debris, reconstruction work began. This included the widening of streets, culverting and covering streams, (Jaime and Delicias – creating the current avenues Francia and Argentina respectively). The main street of the city (Pedro Montt) was laid and Plaza O'Higgins was created; a hill was removed to allow the passage of Colon Street. The damaged Edwards mansion was demolished and in its place the present Cathedral of Valparaíso was built and, among many other works, this gave shape to the current Almendral Valparaíso area.

In 1910, the port expansion work of the city, which ended in 1930, began. A long breakwater was built, along with piers and docking terminals.

The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 caused a severe reduction of port activity as Valparaíso lost its vital role as the major stopping point for shipping going from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific via the Magellan channel.

The Imperial German East Asia Squadron squadron engaged the British West Indies Squadron on 1 November 1914 at the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Valparaiso, sinking two British cruisers. After the battle the East Asia Squadron stayed in Valparaiso Harbor before continuing to the Falklands.

In November 1915, Augusto Pinochet was born in the city.

21st century

Command in Chief Palace of La Armada

Currently Chile's legislature along with other institutions of national importance like the National Customs Service, the National Fish and Aquaculture Ministry, the Ministry of Culture and the Barracks General of the Chilean Navy are sited in the city. In addition to the capital of the Valparaíso Region hosts the Regional Administration and government.

On April 13, 2014, a huge brush fire burned out of control, destroying 2,800 homes and killing 16 people, forcing President Michelle Bachelet to declare it a disaster zone.[4]