Valparaíso, Chile in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Other names

The Mapuche of the sector called it Aliamapu (in Mapudungún: alia mapu, ‘burnt earth’) surely in relation to its frequent forest fires. The monkeys called him Quintil (‘deep bay’).

Valparaíso is also known as «Pancho». Tradition tells that in 1846 the Church of San Francisco began to be built on Cerro Barón, from which the tower that housed the machinery for the clock and four large spheres that could be seen from any location, especially from the high seas, stood out. a must-see for sailors visiting the bay. When they saw the bell tower, crowned by an iron cross, the sailors said: there is Pancho ! Another theory of the origin of this denomination indicates that the American sailors who arrived at the port were amazed at its similarity with the port of San Francisco, comments that the locals replied with the nickname applied to the Franciscos.

The sailors, especially the English, nicknamed it “little London” because of the ” good London air ” that is breathed in this city.

The city is also called “The jewel of the Pacific “, there is a popular song that bears that title and is considered the “hymn” of Valparaíso.

It is very common, nationally, to name the city with the abbreviation “Valpo”.

Although the city of Valparaíso was never founded under a specific name, it should be noted that between 1789 and 1791 a council was proclaimed, obtaining in 1802 by the King of Spain the title of “City of Our Lady of the Mercedes de Puerto Sure ”, in honor of its patron, who also appears on the city’s official coat of arms.

Twentieth century

The twentieth century began with the first major protest by dock workers in Chile, on April 15, 1903, due to claims by longshoremen for their excessive working hours and a wage increase, requests that were ignored by employers, creating a situation Tension that led to serious acts of violence on May 12, such as the seizure of the quartermaster by the protesters, the burning of the CSAV offices and the shooting and death of people in different parts of the city. All this provoked the intervention at the state level, applying the state of siege for several days in the city. This protest was of importance for the future unionism in the country.

The same year the electric trams were inaugurated, which replaced the previous urban railways with animal traction.

The earthquake of August 16, 1906 caused serious damage to the entire city, which was at that time the nucleus of the Chilean economy. The damages were valued in hundreds of millions of pesos of the time, and the human victims were counted in 3,000 dead and more than 20,000 wounded. After removing the rubble, reconstruction works began. These included the widening of the streets, the vaulting and paving of the Jaime and Delicias estuaries, creating the current Francia and Argentina avenues.respectively, the main street of the city was drawn: Pedro Montt, the O’Higgins square was created, a hill was dynamited to allow the passage of Colón street, the damaged Edwards mansion was demolished and in its place the current cathedral was projected, among many other works that gave its shape to the current El Almendral neighborhood. The vast majority of the city’s public reconstruction works were framed in the so-called “Valparaíso Reconstruction Plan”, promoted by President Pedro Montt, which included especially the lower part of the city (before the earthquake it was familiarly known as “High zone” to the hills, and “low zone” to the flat terrain between the hills and the sea), which after these works began to be called in a familiar way by the porteños as “the plan”.

In 1910, work began on the expansion of the city’s port, which ended in 1930. Among the buildings built there is a shelter mound (1 km long and 55 m deep), piers and docking terminals, the Breakwater and the Baron Pier.

The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 caused a decrease in port activity, as it lost its importance as a shipping node on the route through the Strait of Magellan.

XXI century

Currently Valparaíso is the headquarters of the National Congress of Chile, as well as other institutions of national importance such as Customs, Fisheries and Aquaculture services., and the Ministry of Culture. The Chilean Navy has a large presence in the city, where its Headquarters, Court Martial and Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service, the National Maritime Museum, the Arturo Prat Naval School, the General Directorate of the Maritime Territory and Merchant Marine of Chile are located. in addition to other departments of the institution. As the capital of the Valparaíso Region, it houses the Intendency, which is the seat of the regional government, with the vast majority of its services, known as Seremis (Regional Ministerial Secretaries), and the Court of Appeals of Valparaíso, which is the highest judicial authority in the region.

In the private sector, in the city are Stock Exchange Commerce of Valparaiso, the Regional Chamber of Commerce, headquarters of transnational company Chilena de Navigation Interoceanic (CCNI), Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores (CSAV), Sudamericana Agencias Aereas y Marítimas SA (SAAM) as well as offices for Chile of various foreign shipping companies. The El Mercurio de Valparaíso newspaper, the oldest publication of its kind in the world, is also headquartered in Valparaíso.

The city, having populated hills near forests, is vulnerable to forest fires, among the most important are the Rodelillo fire, which occurred on Wednesday February 14, 2013 where more than 100 homes were consumed; and the great fire of Valparaíso, the largest in the history of the city and the country, occurred on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 April 2014, where 10 hills (Mariposas, Monjas, La Cruz, El Liter, Las Cañas, Merced, La Virgen, Santa Elena, Ramaditas and Rocuant) were razed, leaving 15 dead and 2,854 affected.

Valparaíso, Chile in the 20th and 21st Centuries