What is the history of Guayaquil?
What is the history of Guayaquil?

The history of Guayaquil begins with its first foundation on 14 August 1534, which was followed by several migratory foundations.

Funeral en Guayaquil, 1890 – 1930.

Texto: Patricio Añazco / Fotos: Fotografía Patrimonial del Instituto Nacional del Patrimonio.

The history of Guayaquil dates back to its first foundation on 14 August 1534, after several itinerant foundations on the slopes of the green hill of Lominchao, now called Santa Ana. Guayaquil became the city’s port and the royal shipyard of the South Seas, making it the economic capital of Ecuador at the beginning of the Republican period, thanks to its port status. It was here that the city was born, and its process of expansion brought great changes that would shape it for decades.

The history of Guayaquil, the pirate attacks.

In 1688, the population decided to move the city due to the attacks by pirates such as Grogniett, Picard and Hewitt, one of the most important changes Guayaquil has experienced since its beginnings. This was one of the most important processes of change that Guayaquil experienced since its beginnings, and it marked a transformation of the city that would last for more than a century in its process of expansion and development.

History of Guayaquil, Ciudad Nueva, Ciudad Vieja.

A process that would eventually divide the city into two poles that would later be called Ciudad Vieja (Old City) and Ciudad Nueva (New City). After the approval of 14th July 1692, work began on the design and construction of the city, which eventually consisted of 24 blocks, with five blocks at the front and five blocks at the back. The city was built from east to west, in the place where Pichincha and Boyaca streets are today. To the north and south, it ran from Velez Street to Sucre Street.

In 1816, the city’s population was estimated at around 20,000. In that year the two parts of the city, the Old Town and the New Town, were united. However, the two towns grew in different ways. In 1820, the so-called Ciudad Vieja (Old City) had one main street and another under construction, today’s Calle Rocafuerte, while the Ciudad Nueva, with its characteristic growth in width, already comprised five blocks.

History of Guayaquil, Republic of Guayaquil.

Very little is known about the Republic of Guayaquil, but there are writings, maps and historical documents that show that from 9 October 1820 the city of Guayaquil played an important role in the Latin American region and became the Republic of Guayaquil, recognised by other countries in the region thanks to the good diplomatic relations that José Joaquín de Olmedo maintained with the two most important leaders of the time, Simón Bolívar and San Martín. The territory that corresponded to the Republic of Guayaquil stretched from north to south: from Esmeraldas to Tumbes, and from west to east: from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean.

For 21 months, from 9 October 1820 to 13 July 1822, the Republic of Guayaquil remained independent until it was annexed to the Republic of Colombia, which had existed since 1819. A century later, Guayaquil began to make its presence felt in Latin America. Due to its excellent geographical location, it had established itself as a hub for the arrival and departure of goods, and the city’s economy began to develop. And this vocation made it worthy of being called “The Pearl of the Pacific”.

The History of Guayaquil, The Great Fire of 1896.

The city has experienced several major fires, including the Great Fire of 1896, which was so devastating that it destroyed 1,500 houses and buildings in the 48 hours it lasted, leaving 33,000 of the city’s 59,000 inhabitants homeless. All the buildings reduced to rubble had to be rebuilt on the site where they had stood. Temples such as the Church of San Francisco, several newspaper printing houses, the cavalry and artillery barracks, the bridges of the Malecón and the ice, tobacco and beer factories of the time were destroyed.

These stories are written in the testimonies of those who lived and saw the destruction when the great fire ravaged the city. The fires that Guayaquil experienced, including the great fire of 1896, caused the city to change its architecture several times, rebuilding itself several times on the land on which it was built.

Hospital General de Guayaquil. Foto entre: 1890 – 1900

The history of Guayaquil, the European influence.

On the occasion of the centenary of the city’s independence, decoration programmes were carried out to embellish the existing parks, avenues and buildings with elements typical of the period. The Municipal Museum and the Governor’s Palace are two representative buildings that have contributed to these changes. The image of Guayaquil is dominated by 20th century neoclassical elements, which were very influential in Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries. The predominance of this style led to a proliferation of concrete buildings in the city, also influenced by Italian architects, who contributed more and more to the city with buildings in this style.

The story of Guayaquil, the banana boom and migration.

In 1940, the city had around 200,000 inhabitants; 10 years later, it had 265,000. A new phase of migration began, not only to Guayaquil, but also to various coastal provinces as a result of the banana boom. The city began to grow and become more populated. During this period of great construction, the city had. The Avenue of the Americas, the bridge over the Guayas River and the expansion of the airport, which began in 1935 as a runway for military purposes.

As a result of the extensive oil production that took place in the country in the early 1970s, which brought with it the impact of economic growth that transformed the urbanisation process due to high real estate investment, the city experienced even more urban growth as a result of intense migration of people joining the industrial and service sectors.

The history of Guayaquil, the modern era.

The modernist phase is considered to be the one that began in the city in the late 1970s and continues to the present day, another phase of change in architecture in which it began to incorporate buildings and structures of different design and function. Guayaquil has grown a lot since its beginnings, a growth that has made it the most populous city in the country, a growth that may not have been planned from the beginning, but perhaps now, more than in other phases of its life, it is aware of how it is growing.


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