Puerto Vallarta History

Puerto Vallarta history is full of interesting facts and events, more so than many other Mexican beach resorts on the west coast, because of rich mineral (especially silver) deposits in the area, because of the city’s proximity to one of the richest agricultural regions in the country, and because of its location in the sheltered harbor of beautiful Banderas Bay. Additionally, the fascinating Huichol Indians live in the Sierra Madre Occidental Range that frames the city. Much of the historic Puerto Vallarta information concerns these three natural resources and the indigenous people who live here, and all of them together have created wonderful attractions for visitors.

History of Puerto Vallarta
History of Puerto Vallarta

The Huichol Indians are among the last of the Native American peoples to maintain most of their pre-Columbian traditions. They are known for the shamanic healing traditions and artwork, which you will undoubtedly see in many places while shopping. It is also possible to purchase vacation packages that offer tours to very remote villages in order to have an authentic experience and cultural exchange.

Archaeological evidence shows that humans have been living here since the sixth century B.C., and these quite possibly were the ancestors of the Huichol Indians. Most documented Puerto Vallarta history begins with the arrival of the missionaries and conquistadors from Spain in the sixteenth century. There are records of a number of battles between the local peoples and conquistadors. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Banderas Bay figured prominently in seafaring of all kinds, including smuggling, piracy, and trade over routes along the beaches.

The history of Puerto Vallarta as a spot for beach vacations began as early as the mid-nineteenth century, when the residents of the larger Sierra towns began to come here during the mountain winter weather. They built villas for their summer residences, and some of these today are lovely hotels. At that time, it was a thriving, but small, fishing and pearl diving village.

Puerto Vallarta History
Puerto Vallarta History

Much of the Puerto Vallarta information you will find concerns the growth of the town after 1859, when the Union en Cuale mining company bought up large tracts of land and became the stimulus for rapid development. This lasted until the early part of the twentieth century, when mining activities began to wane. Fortunately, this was about the same time as the richness of the nearby Ameco River Valley as an agricultural area was discovered. The Montgomery Fruit Company arrived, and the area is still one of the world’s producers of tropical fruit. Not long after an airport was built in the 1950s, Puerto Vallarta information about the rewards of the area as a vacation spot reached the United States. Writers and artists came, building their own villas in the area now known as Gringo Gulch in the Old Town. Today, this is still a popular spot for ex patriots and tourists alike. You will find a number of vacation rentals here, and there are some intimate boutique hotels, including the lovely Casa San Tiempo.

Puerto Vallarta history took another turn after the great American director John Huston made the 1963 film Night of the Iguana here. The extramarital affair between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Turner made news in the States, and newsreels were full of home movies of the director and stars fishing in the sparkling turquoise waters and cavorting on beautiful beaches in the tropical paradise. This put Puerto Vallarta on the map and the 1960s and 1970s saw an unprecedented tourist boom. Numerous resorts and luxury hotels were built, and it is still one of the world’s most popular beach resorts for the rich and famous of the jet set, as well as for young people on spring break and families with children.

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