Tampico, Tamaulipas - Mexico
Tampico is a city and port in the southeastern part of the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. It is located on the north bank of the Pánuco River, about 10 kilometers (6 mi) inland from the Gulf of Mexico, and directly north of the state of Veracruz. Tampico is the fifth-largest city in Tamaulipas, with a population of 314,418 in the city proper and 929,174 in the metropolitan area.
The name "Tampico" is of Huastec origin, tam-piko meaning "place of otters" (literally "water dogs"). The city is surrounded by rivers and lagoons of the delta of the Pánuco River, which was the habitat of a large population of otters.
In 1532, during the Spanish colonial period, the Franciscan priest Andrés de Olmos established a mission and monastery in the area, building over a former Huastec village. At his request, Spanish officials founded a settlement named San Luis de Tampico in 1554. This site was abandoned in 1684, and the population relocated to the south of the Pánuco River because of frequent attacks by European and American pirates. The area was abandoned for nearly 150 years.
The present Mexican city was founded on April 13, 1823, on the north bank of the Pánuco River about 10 kilometers (6 mi) from the Gulf, after Mexico achieved independence from Spain. Tampico built its economy on the exportation of silver; business development was mostly as a trading center and market town of an agricultural region. The town also became a common waypoint for the re-routing of African slaves to be illegally smuggled into the Southern United States, which had outlawed the international slave trade in 1807. In August 1829, Spain sent troops from Cuba to invade Tampico in an effort to regain control of the region, but in September, General Antonio López de Santa Anna forced the Spanish troops to surrender, and Mexican control of Tampico was reestablished.
During the period of Mexico's first oil boom in the early 20th century, the city was the "chief oil-exporting port of the Americas" and the second-busiest in the world, yielding great profits that were invested in the city's famous architecture, often compared to that of Venice and New Orleans. The first oil well in Mexico was drilled near Tampico in 1901 at Ébano.
In 1923, Mexico's largest oil field (located very close to Tampico) dried up, leading to an exodus of jobs and investment, but economic development in other areas made the city a pioneer in the aviation and soda industries. The city is also a major exporter of silver, copper, and lumber, as well as wool, hemp, and other agricultural products. Containerized cargo is mainly handled by the neighboring ocean port of Altamira.
Tampico's downtown architecture is an eclectic mix, reflecting the growth of the city during the Porfiriato (the period of rule by President and dictator Porfirio Díaz). During the oil boom of the first decades of the 20th century, much "grandiose" architecture was built, inviting comparisons with Venice, Italy, and New Orleans in the United States. Many buildings feature wrought-iron balconies (in the 20th century, these were mostly built of English cast iron). Similar balconies are characteristic of the French and Spanish-influenced architecture in New Orleans. Some of the balconies in Plaza de la libertad bear the original plaques showing their manufacture at the Derbyshire forge of Andrew Handyside and Company.
Notable buildings include the neoclassical Town Hall (or Palacio Municipal) in Plaza de Armas, and the English redbrick Customs House in the docks. The prevalence of New Orleans-style architecture is attributed to the oil boom years. Not only was there money to spend, but many building supplies, including pre-built housing components, were shipped from New Orleans to this area during that period of rapid development. The historical downtown areas of Plaza de Armas and Plaza de Libertad have been restored and improved in recent years to emphasize their historic appeal, in part to encourage more heritage tourism.
The Cathedral of Tampico, also known as the Temple of the Immaculate Conception, located in Plaza de Armas, dates to the late 19th century. It has undergone several restorations. It is of the neoclassical style in light brown canter, with Corinthian-style columns and three enormous doors that form the entrance. Its two towers are made of three bodies. The eastern one has a large, London-made, public chiming clock, a gift from Don Angel Sainz Trapaga. Its recently refurbished interior holds several wall paintings and other works of art. The altar is of white Carrara marble. The United States oil tycoon Edward Doheny of California, who drilled the first oil well in Mexico near Tampico, donated substantial funds for the cathedral's construction and maintenance after 1902, when he based his Mexican oil operations in Tampico.
Tampico is known for its food. Seafood is important in the city. The locals are informally known as Jaibas (crabs), and the crab emblem is seen in many places, from sports logos to the sides of buses to park benches. There are also typical dishes of the area, mainly the "torta de la barda" which is a sandwich that contains over 12 toppings, and the famous "tampiquena" which is steak with refried beans and "entomatadas" (tortillas with tomato sauce and cheese).
The Autonomous University of Tamaulipas has one of its two largest campuses in Tampico, the other being in CiudadVictoria. The major schools of medicine, engineering, nursing, dentistry, architecture, and business are based here.