Viña del Mar

History of Viña del Mar


Author: Santiago

A little history

The valley where Viña del Mar was founded was known as the valley of Peuco by the Changos, native inhabitants of the area dedicated to fishing. With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores the valley was divided into two large haciendas. North of the Marga Marga creek up to the current location of Reñaca, Viña del Mar, and to the south up to the current Cerro Barón (Baron Hill), the Hacienda Las Siete Hermanas (The Seven Sisters).

Francisco Javier Álvarez authorized the construction of a railroad through his lands to join Santiago and the port of Valparaíso. The arrival of the railroad brought a young engineer Jose Francisco Vergara who married Francisco Javier Álvarez’s granddaughter, Mercedes Álvarez. It was José Francisco Vergara who instigated the idea of the creation of a new city independent of Valparaíso. Finally on May 30, 1878, the Chilean government authorized the creation of the new city of Viña del Mar.[citation needed] In 1892, Salvador Vergara (son of José Francisco Vergara) commenced the development of the north bank of the Marga Marga creek under the name of Población Vergara, around the current Avenida Libertad (Liberty Avenue). The establishment of Refinadora de Azúcar de Viña del Mar (Sugar Refining Company), CRAV in 1873 and the arrival of the British company of Lever & Murphy in 1883 gave the necessary economic push to transform the young city into one of the most important cities of Chile. The building of a military installation, Regimiento Coraceros in 1917, naval facilities in Las Salinas, and the housing of military and naval personnel furthered the city's growth. That year, what had been so far a beautiful house by the sea shore became, after some rehabilitation, what is known today as Wulff Castle.[6]

In 1925, the Teatro Municipal was opened in its current location in the eastern front of the city's downtown square, Plaza de Viña del Mar. In 1928 president Carlos Ibáñez del Campo authorized the creation of a casino, securing the future and the touristic character of the city. The Casino Municipal de Viña del Mar was opened on December 31, 1930. On January 31, 1931, the Presidential Palace was inaugurated in Cerro Castillo (Castle Hill) as a summer residence for the Chilean President. The touristic character of the city was furthered with the inauguration of the O'Higgins Hotel in 1936 and the inauguration of the Miramar Hotel by Caleta Abarca Beach in 1945. Later a number of small industries settled in the eastern part of the city, bordering the Marga Marga creek in El Salto, including a Coca-Cola bottling facility, meat processing facilities, and chemical factories.[citation needed] For a few years in the early 1960s, a trolleybus line connected the city with Valparaíso, and the electric route network included three branches within Viña.[7]

Viña del Mar was one of the four host cities of the 1962 football (soccer) World Cup. It is now home to CD Everton, a soccer team in the Chilean Premier division, which took its name from the English team. Viña del Mar was declared a sister city of Sausalito, California (a city north of San Francisco), in 1971. To demonstrate the sister city relationship, you can find a square (plaza) called "Viña del Mar" in downtown Sausalito, and a "Sausalito" stadium and "Sausalito" lagoon in Viña del Mar. Viña del Mar is also a sister city of Mar del Plata, Argentina since 1993.[citation needed]

During the 1980s, a global economic downturn seriously affected the city, a number of small and medium sized factories went bankrupt, including the stationery manufacturer Coda, and most importantly, CRAV, and Textiles Viña, two of the biggest employers in the city. Unemployment rose to alarmingly high rates. Many factories started to consolidate their operations in Santiago making the situation even worse. The city has failed to fully recover from the blows inflicted by the economic downturn of 1982, but an increase in the number of international tourists visiting the city, and the recent high prices of copper in world markets have promoted an economic recovery.[citation needed]

Extensive commercial redevelopment in the 15 Norte Avenue area, previously an abandoned industrial area, has seen most of the large Chilean retail chains settling in the area, which is now covered with large shopping malls, like Marina Arauco, cinemas, fast food stores, and supermarkets. The city has benefitted from major investments in infrastructure that have greatly improved the traffic flow in the downtown area,[citation needed] especially in routes connecting Viña del Mar with Santiago, Valparaíso and Quilpué. A modern and efficient subway (Merval) connects Viña del Mar with the cities of Limache and Valparaíso, following the original railroad tracks between Valparaíso and Santiago. The city was affected by the February 27, 2010 earthquake.