San Juan

ABOUT THE CITY

San Juan is known as “La Ciudad Amurallada” (the walled city). San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean and is the second oldest European-founded city in the Americas (after Santo Domingo, which was officially founded on August 5, 1498.) The port is one of the busiest in the Caribbean.  San Juan is center of Caribbean shipping and is the 2nd largest sea port in the area (after New York City).

San Juan is also a tourist resort of the West Indies and is the oldest city under the U.S flag. It is the largest processing center of the island, the metropolitan area has facilities for petroleum and sugar refining, brewing and distilling and produces cement, pharmaceuticals, metal products clothing, and tobacco.  San Juan is the country’s financial capital, and many U.S. banks and corporations maintain offices or distributing centers there.

Looking for a get-away while there?  San Juan is the largest home-based cruise port in the world. Twenty-eight vessels use San Juan as their home port, and each year new cruise ships either originate or call at the port.

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    About San Juan

    San Juan is the capital and largest city in Puerto Rico is located in the Northern Coastal Plains. San Juan was founded by Spanish colonists in 1521 and is the oldest city in Puerto Rico. Today, San Juan serves as Puerto Rico’s most important seaport, as well as the main manufacturing, financial, cultural, and tourist center.

    San Juan is subdivided into 18 wards (barrios), 16 of which fall within the former (until 1951) municipio of Rio Piedras. 8 barrios are further subdivided in to sub-barrios, including both barrios of the former municipio of San Juan.

    Old San Juan/Puerta de Tierra San Juan is a traditional, colonial city that is bordered by walls. As the seat of the island’s bicameral government, it houses La Fortaleza, home of the Governor and El Capitolio, the seat of the House of Representatives. The Senate, on the other hand, is located in nearby Puerta de Tierra.

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    History

    In 1508 Juan Ponce de León founded the original settlement, Caparra (named after the province Caceres, Spain, birthplace of the then-governor of Spain’s Caribbean territories, Nicolas de Ovando), today known as the Pueblo Viejo sector of Guaynabo, behind the almost land-locked harbor just to the west of the present San Juan metropolitan area. A year later, the settlement was abandoned and moved to a site which was called at the time Puerto Rico, a name that evoked that of a similar geographical feature in the island of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, which meant “rich port” or “good port”. In 1521, the newer settlement was given its formal name of “San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico”, following the usual custom of christening the town with both its formal name and the name which Christopher Columbus had originally given the island, honoring John the Baptist. The indistinct use of “San Juan Bautista” and “Puerto Rico” for calling 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.

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    Fast Facts

    Population:  442,447

    Housing Units:  182,101

    Per Capita Income:  $12,437

    Area:  76.9 sq mi (199.24 km²)

    Sales Tax: 5.5%

    Website: www.sanjuancapital.com

    Time Zone
    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Puerto Rico and New York City at 12:00 UTC when daylight saving time is not in effect:
    Puerto Rico Standard Time Zone: UTC-4 hours= 9:00 am
    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 05:00 hour = 8:00am

    Climate

    San Juan enjoys an average of 82°F (28°C) during the year. Although, 90°F or above temperatures are not rare during the summer, especially if the winds come from the south. In the winter, lows can drop to the 60s though the average winter low is 71°F. The coldest temperature ever recorded was 60°F on March 3, 1957 and the hottest was 98°F on October 9, 1981. San Juan has never reached 100°F. Rainfall is well distributed all year, but the months of February, March and April are the driest.

    Month Avg Hi Avg Lo Avg Precip
    Jan 82°F 71°F 3.02 in.
    Feb 83°F 71°F 2.30 in.
    Mar 83°F 72°F 2.14 in.
    Apr 85°F 73°F 3.71 in.
    May 86°F 75°F 5.29 in.
    Jun 88°F 77°F 3.52 in.
    Jul 87°F 77°F 4.16 in.
    Aug 88°F 77°F 5.22 in.
    Sep 88°F 77°F 5.60 in.
    Oct 88°F 76°F 5.06 in.
    Nov 85°F 74°F 6.17 in.
    Dec 83°F 72°F 4.57 in.

    Taxes

    IRS Puerto Rico
    7 Tabonuco Street
    Guaynobo, Puerto Rico 00918
    (787) 622-8929

    M-F 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    Filing with no payment:
    IRS
    Austin, TX
    73301-0215

    Filing with a payment:
    IRS
    P.O. Box 660335
    Dallas, TX
    75266-0335

    The IRS Home Page, www.irs.gov , has a lot of information available to answer many questions. Go to ‘Individuals’ and then ‘Overseas Taxpayers’ you will find a section of FAQ, which will take you to IRS Publication 54. Many questions of overseas taxpayers can be answered from that source.

    By Car

    Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. A valid continental U.S. driver’s license legally can be used in Puerto Rico for up to three months.  Driving in Puerto Rico is similar to driving in the United States, with the exception that signs are all in Spanish. Be sure to have your instructions written down before you begin, and check your route.  Distance markers are in kilometers and the gas is sold in liters.

    Public Transportation

    Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA)

    (787) 250-6064

    Metrobus system

    (787) 763-4141

    The Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA) operates in the San Juan metropolitan area. The bus stops are marked by magenta, orange and white signs which read Parada.

    There are also mini-buses/taxis (“carros públicos” or “guaguas”) that usually carry between 5-14 people. Públicos are a good way of getting around, but be prepared to wait for the car to fill up and make little stops all along your route. This can add more than an hour travel time depending on how far you are going.

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    Air Transportation

    Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport  (SJU)

    www.prpa.gobierno.pr/APMain.aspx

    The airport is located in Carolina, 3 miles (5 km) southeast of San Juan.  It is the island’s main international gateway, and its main connection to the mainland United States. The airport serves as the Caribbean hub for American Airlines and American Eagle.

    Car Rentals

    Rates will probably be a little higher than in the United States. Car rental agencies are located around the island in the larger cities. Agencies include:

    Alamo

    www.alamo.com

    Avis

    www.avis.com

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    Local Phone Numbers

    Area code for San Juan is 787

    Emergency 911
    Fire Department (787) 343-2020
    Medical Emergencies (787) 754-2550
    Police (787) 343-2020
    American Red Cross (787) 759-7979
    FBI (787) 754-6000
    San Juan Poison Center 800-222-1222

    Ashford Presbyterian Community Hospital
    Av. Ashford 1451
    San Juan, PR
    (787) 721-2160

    Telephone
    If you’re calling long distance within Puerto Rico, add a 1 before the numbers. When you’re placing a call to the U.S. mainland or to anywhere else overseas, preface the number with 011.

    Utilities
    Electricity
    Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica de Puerto Rico (AEE)
    PO Box 364267
    San Juan, PR  00936-4267
    (787) 289-3434
    www.aeepr.com

    Water
    Autoridad de Desperdicios Solidos
    Sector el Cinco, Carr. Núm. 8838
    Km. 6.3, Río Piedras P.R.
    P.O. Box 40285
    San Juan, Puerto Rico 00940-0285
    (787)765-7575
    www.ads.gobierno.pr

    Cable TV and Internet
    Liberty Cablevision
    (787) 657-3050
    www.libertypr.com

    Telephone
    Puerto Rico Telephone Company
    800-981-8944
    www.telefonicapr.com

    Television

    2 WKAQ TEL
    4 WAPA ind. (Sp.)
    6 WIPR PBS Sp./Eng.
    7 WSTE Telefutura
    11 WLII UNI
    13 WORO ind. (sports)
    15 WSJN-CA TBN
    16 WMTJ-DT PBS
    24 WJPX ind. MTV-PR,horse racing
    26 WREY-LP ind. (Sp.)
    27 WAPA-DT ind. (Sp.)
    28 WKAQ-DT TEL
    33 WORO-DT ind. (sports)
    34 WRUA ind.
    36 WDWL TBN
    40 WMTJ PBS
    51 WRFB-DT ind. (Sp.)
    52 WRFB ind. (Sp.)

    Radio

    AM Stations      
    540 AFN Radio San Juan
    580 WKAQ news/talk
    610 WSKN news/talk
    630 WUNO news/talk
    680 WAPA news/talk
    740 WIAC news/talk
    810 WKVM religious/talk/oldies
    840 WXEW ac/tropical
    870 WQBS news/talk
    890 WFAB religious
    940 WIPR news/talk/variety-espanol
    1030 WOSO news/talk/sports English
    1080 WSKN news/talk
    1110 WVJP tropical
    1140 WQII news/talk
    1190 WBMJ religious (Eng)
    1210 WHOY variety
    1240 WALO news/talk
    1250 WJIT variety
    1320 WSKN news/talk
    1370 WIVV religious
    1380 WOLA tropical
    1400 WIDA religious
    1430 WNEL standards
    1460 WRRE religious
    1480 WMDD news/talk
    1520 WVOZ urban
    1540 WIBS tropical
    1560 WRSJ urban
    1590 WXRF news/talk
    1600 WLUZ standards
    1660 WGIT sports
           
    FM Stations      
    88.1 WCRP religious
    88.5 WPLI religious-español
    88.9 WPUC college/religious
    89.3 WJVP religious
    89.7 WRTU .. public/jazz
    90.5 WIDA religious
    91.3 WIPR classical
    92.1 WZOL religious
    92.5 WORO soft ac/romantica
    92.9 WYQE tropical
    93.1 AFN Radio AFN Radio
    93.7 WZNT tropical/salsa
    94.7 WODA CHR-rhythmic
    95.7 WFID ac
    96.5 WCMA soft ac/romantica
    96.9 WNRT religious
    96.9 WNRT religious
    97.3 WOYE oldies
    97.7 WBRQ religious
    98.5 WPRM tropical/salsa
    98.7 WJZG religious
    98.9 WYAS smooth jazz-espanol
    99.9 WIOA soft ac
    100.7 WXYX CHR-pop
    102.5 WIAC pop
    103.3 WVJP tropical
    103.9 WYAS smooth jazz-espanol
    104.7 WKAQ CHR-pop
    105.7 WCAD active rock
    106.9 WMEG CHR-pop
    107.7 WVOZ urban

    Newspapers

    El San Juan Star
    www.thesanjuanstar.com
    English daily newspaper

    Dining

    Although Puerto Rican food is somewhat similar to both Spanish and Mexican cuisine, it also combines Spanish, African, Taíno, and American influences. They use indigenous seasonings and ingredients like coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee. Locals call their cuisine “cocina criolla”.

    Cocina criolla (Créole cooking) goes back to the Arawaks and Tainos, the original inhabitants of the island. They thrived on a diet of corn, tropical fruit, and seafood. The Spanish added beef, pork, rice, wheat, and olive oil to the island’s foodstuffs. The Spanish planted sugarcane and imported slaves from Africa, who brought okra and taro (known in Puerto Rico as yautia). The mingling of flavors and ingredients passed from generation to generation among the islanders, resulting in the exotic blend of today’s Puerto Rican cuisine.

    In most cases, coastal cities have the best selection of seafood – a great way to begin exploring local island cuisine. Try Caribbean Lobster, a sweeter variety than its Maine cousin. Dolphin fish and red snapper are also widely available, but the local seafood specialty is conch stuffed with tomato for a fritter or mixed into a ceviche salad. In cities and towns away from the coast, pork is widely popular.

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    Historical Attractions

    Capitolio

    Avenida Ponce de Leon

    San Juan, PR 00901

    (787) 721 6040

    Built on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, El Capitolio is in the Puerta de Tierra district near Old San Juan and contains both chambers; the Senate and the House of Representatives. Members of both houses have offices in respective annexes to the main building. The rotunda features the original copy of the Constitution of Puerto Rico, signed in 1952.

    Cathedral de San Juan

    153 Calle Cristo

    San Juan, PR 00901

    (787) 722 0861

    A favorite stop for tourists, this marvelous cathedral was built in 1592, on the same site of the previous cathedral that was destroyed by a hurricane around 1584. Located on Calle Cristo, this gothic and neoclassical structure is situated in front of the historic Hotel El Convento in the heart of Old San Juan, and the Plazuela de Las Monjas. Besides the cathedral’s religious significance, history buffs can view the relics of Ponce de León that are preserved here in a marble crypt.

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    Museums

    Museo del Niño (Children’s Museum)

    # 150 Calle Cristo

    San Juan PR 00902-2467

    (787) 722-3791

    www.museodelninopr.org

    Located on Calle Cristo, the Museo del Niño (The Kids Museum) is designed to appeal to and inspire children. However, it is both fun and educational for the entire family. Plan on several hours to tour the entire facility. Located in the heart of Old San Juan, this museum offers interactive activities and presentations in both English and Spanish.

    Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

    299 De Diego Ave

    Santurce, PR 00907

    (787) 966-6277

    www.mapr.org

    The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is the island’s newest addition, and the museum has quickly become one of San Juan’s most beautiful landmarks. While the exterior boasts 1920s neoclassical architecture, once inside visitors find a center of learning, a computer laboratory and a family gallery. The facility houses a grand collection of Puerto Rican-made paintings and sculptures.

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    Outdoors

    Condado Beach
    Ashford Avenue
    San Juan, PR 00901
    (787) 721-2400
    On Ashford Avenue, Condado Beach affords its visitors white sand beaches and its beautiful Laguna (Parque Laguna del Condado (Condado Lagoon)). You will find this small beach near the Condado Beach Resort to be an excellent bathing place, but beware that this spot can get quite crowded with locals and their families on weekends.

    Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon’s Park)
    Paseo de la Princesa
    San Juan, PR 00901
    (787) 721-2400
    Near the Paseo de la Princesa, families can take their kids to a fun place where they can interact with the local pigeons. Young children especially love this opportunity. The pigeons congregate here, always hungry, and for one dollar you can buy a bag of dried corn to feed them right from your hands. 

    Sports

    El Comandante

    Calle 65 de Infantería

    (787) 724-6060

    Great thoroughbreds and outstanding jockeys compete year-round at Puerto Rico’s only racetrack, a 20-minute drive east of the center of San Juan.

    The Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League

    www.hitboricua.com

    The Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League (Spanish: Liga de Béisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico or LBPPR) is the main professional baseball league in Puerto Rico. These teams are a part of the MLB Winter Leagues.  Currently consisting of six teams, the league’s champion participates in the Caribbean World Series.

    Lobos de Arecibo (Arecibo Wolves)

    Criollos de Caguas (Caguas Creoles)

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    Walking Tour

    Old San Juan
    Start: Plaza de la Marina
    Finish: Fort San Cristóbal
    Time: 2 hours (not counting stops)
    The streets are narrow and teeming with traffic, so walk carefully through Old San Juan (El Viejo San Juan). Beneficiary of millions of dollars’ worth of restoration since the early 1970s, Old San Juan is one of the world’s most potent reminders of the power and grandeur of the Spanish Empire. This tour begins at a point just to the west of San Juan’s cruise piers and encircles the perimeter of some of the best-preserved fortifications built by the Spaniards during the 16th and 17th centuries. En route, it passes beneath the governor’s historic mansion, La Fortaleza, and encircles Casa Blanca, before ending at a point beyond the entrance of one of the most fiercely guarded fortresses of the colonial age, Fort San Cristóbal.

    Business Hours

    Work Days: Commercial establishments may be open to the public on workdays from 5 a.m. to midnight. On Jan. 5, Dec. 24, and Dec. 31 work hours are from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m., even when they fall on a Sunday.

    Sundays: Commercial establishments may be open to the public from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. If a holiday falls on a Sunday it is observed as a holiday and the following Monday is a regular workday.

    Currency & Banking

    Local banks  and institutions include:
    Banco Popular, which is considered the largest banking institution in the island, with over one hundred branches throughout the island
    Banco de Ponce
    Banco de San Juan
    Banco Mercantil de Puerto Rico.

    There are also branches of US banks:
    Citibank
    FirstBank.

    Postal Service

    US Postal Service
    www.usps.com
    There are US Postal branches located throughout the island, in addition to UPS, FedEx, Mail Boxes, Etc. and other private mail services. The rates and services are the same as in the United States.

    Public School

    Education is very important to Puerto Ricans. During Spanish rule, teaching was limited to Christian subjects. Prior to 1840 there were very few books on the island. In 1937 it was determined that students learn English. To this day, both Spanish and English are required subjects.  Education is mandatory between the ages of 6 and 17, and literacy is 90%. There are over 1500 public schools, over 500 private schools in Puerto Rico. The area ranks 6th in the world for students continuing to college.

    Higher Education

    Community Colleges

    Community colleges exist for two major purposes. The first is to serve as a bridge from high school to college by providing courses for transfer toward a bachelor’s degree. Four out of 10 collegebound high-school graduates start their college education this way.

    The second function of community colleges is to prepare students for the job market by offering entry-level career training as well as courses for adult students who want to upgrade their skills for the workplace. They often offer programs that are not available at four-year schools, like fashion design.

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