Río Piedras, Puerto Rico

The University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras campus. Its distinctive clock tower is a landmark of both the campus and Río Piedras.

Río Piedras is a former municipality of Puerto Rico, which was consolidated with the municipality of San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1951. It was founded in 1714, and has been the home of the University of Puerto Rico's main campus since 1903,[1] earning the popular name of Ciudad Universitaria (University City).


Río Piedras Cathedral.

Río Piedras' origins go back to 1714 when a settlement along the shores of the Piedras river was recognized by Governor Juan de Rivera. Originally known as El Roble, it eventually adopted the name of the river that crossed its territory (Río Piedras in Spanish).

Sugar cane worker in Río Piedras vicinity.

During the nineteenth century, most of its territory was used for agricultural and livestock-raising purposes. Sugar cane, cotton and coffee were some of the goods produced during this era at the municipality.

On May 12, 1903, the University of Puerto Rico was founded in Río Piedras.[2] The university was a central part of the development of Rio Piedras, both in housing and economically. Even though the campus covers a very small portion of the territory, it is considered the unofficial symbol of the old town. The Río Piedras Campus is recognized[by whom?] as the main campus in the University of Puerto Rico system.[citation needed] The Botanical Gardens of the university are also located at Río Piedras.

Incorporation into San Juan

The municipality became part of the capital city of San Juan on July 1, 1951, after the approval of Project 177 of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico.[3] Following the annexation of Rio Piedras, the city of San Juan, and its surrounding area now including Rio Piedras, quadrupled its former size. [4] The last mayor of the municipality of Río Piedras was Ángeles Méndez de López Corver.



The flag of Río Piedras consists of a yellow cloth with a wavy blue stripe. The stripe has small white stones crossing it, and symbolizes the river that gave its name to the former town. The yellow background represents the sun, progress, and the future.

Geography and climate

The region is mostly flat due to its location in the Northern Coastal Plains of the island. The highest regions are located at the south, mainly in the Caimito and Cupey barrios. The Río Piedras (or Piedras River) which gives name to the area crosses the region.



San Juan (light gray) and Rio Piedras (yellow) before annexation.
San Juan and Rio

By 1948, Rio Piedras had the following 12 urban barrios:[6]

Buen Consejo, Capetillo, and Río Piedras Antiguo made up the original urban area of the municipality of Rio Piedras.

The rural zone, 42% of Rio Piedras in 1948, were the following six barrios:


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 13,760
1910 18,880 37.2%
1920 23,035 22.0%
1930 40,853 77.4%
1940 68,290 67.2%
1950 143,989 110.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1899 (shown as 1900)[8] 1910-1930[9]
1930-1950[10] 1960-2000[11] 2010[12]


Tourism spots in Río Piedras include:[13]

  • The Río Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico
  • Casa de Cultura Ruth Hernández Torres, which is a cultural center
  • Heladería Georgetti, an ice-cream shop
  • El Churro Bar, Mexican taqueria and bar
  • Plaza del Mercado de Río Piedras, an open-air market
  • El Boricua, a gathering place for locals and tourists alike


Río Piedras first mayor was Juan de la Cruz in 1814. The last mayor of the municipality of Río Piedras was Ángeles Méndez de López Corver.

The Puerto Rico Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation operates the Hogar Intermedio para Mujeres in Río Piedras, which opened in 1996.[14]


Río Piedras is perhaps more known for being the site of the main campus of the University of Puerto Rico. Located in downtown Río Piedras, the university has more than 20,000 students enrolled and a faculty of more than 1,000.[citation needed]

Other universities located in what was known as Río Piedras are the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico and the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus.

Río Piedras also has several public and private schools distributed through several regions. Public education is handled by the Puerto Rico Department of Education.


Rio Piedras is served by the Tren Urbano Metro system with stations at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras and in downtown Río Piedras. Even though these two stations are considered the current stations at Río Piedras, most of the stops of the train in the municipality of San Juan are located in areas that were part of the municipality of Río Piedras prior to 1951.[15]


Paseo de Diego

At the heart of Río Piedras lies the Avenida José de Diego, a one-kilometer pedestrianized street with stores and shops. The Río Piedras Plaza del Mercado (Marketplace) is the largest of its kind on the island and features a series of shops that offer goods and services.

Ponce de León Avenue is popular with bookstores and small theaters and with students, faculty, and intellectuals in the community.

Roberto Clemente's house is located in Rio Piedras [1], where a memorial is visible in the back yard.

See also


External links

Coordinates: 18°23′59″N 66°03′00″W / 18.39972°N 66.05000°W / 18.39972; -66.05000