My Heritage at the dawn of the last century.

2013 UPDATE: sadly all of the photos in this post lost their links, but I'm leaving the original captions and post I had created and instead inserting a list of links to pages that now feature puertorican vintage photography from the turn of the century to the 1970's. Enjoy!

Vintage Photos of Puerto Rico (Pinterest board)

Old Images of Puerto Rico (Facebook page)

Historical Photographs of Puerto Rico, 1898-1940's (archive)

Archivo Fotográfico de Puerto Rico - Colección Rodriguez (archive)

Collection : Puerto Rico, 1940's-1950's (Flickr open archive)


It always amazes me how few photos one can find of Puerto Rico on the internet. I would think that for people who want to know more about us there would be more resources, historical and other. A curious thing I did see: Most historical pictures online were taken by military photographers who were documenting our ports and towns, with the odd photographer thrown in there who was kind of interested in our way of life, mainly in the poorest areas and the sugarcane mills, which were the island's main economic strength at that time.

But at the same time I think of a super sad story my Papa told me a couple of years ago:

He works in an engineering plant whose base offices are at an old sugar mill building in San Juan. A couple of years ago the owner bought the building next door, which used to be the San Juan Gas main offices until the 70s. That building was very old and abandoned more than 30 years prior. The owner, my Papa and a cleaning crew entered the building one day to throw out all the old stuff that was still in the building. On the second floor, where the office area was, they found a veritable treasure trove of old photographs, documents, maps and other historical documents, most dating back to the turn of the century up to about the time the building was abandoned. Well, my Papa had to watch while the new owner (his boss) told the cleaning crew to put all those things in black garbage bags and to clear everything out. A goldmine of history, thrown out with the trash.

Searching online I did find some photos of Puerto Rico from this early century, but I had to look far and wide to find them. One of them, from the 1930s, is actually a color photo taken at a sugarcane field and shows one of the workers. The colors are really beautiful and bright. This one is actually my favorite.

Enjoy my Heritage!

This is a high school in Yauco, Puerto Rico in the 1920s
A postcard of a photo of San Juan, taken in 1927.
Photo of a Yauco policeman, 1920s.
I think this is either the San Juan or Ponce Harbor in the 1920s.
This is one of the little towns in 1941.
This is actually my second favorite photograph. This one was taken at one of the living areas next to a sugarcane mill in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. I came across this one by accident, while looking for US Depression-era photos. One thing that is certain about Depression-era photographs is that they all depict such sadness and desperation in their subjects. In this picture you can actually see the girls smiling at each other, and they seem to be playing hide-and-seek in such awful surroundings. There's a reason they call Puerto Rico the happiest island on earth.
My favorite photograph. This one I also came across by accident, on a site that had a bunch of color photographs taken during the late 1930s. The man is a sugarcane worker and he was candidly shot in one of the fields in Puerto Rico. Nothing else was stated about him or the photo, but his stoic expression and proud stance despite such harsh conditions are really what strike me. He embodies everything we should be really proud about ourselves and our heritage: despite all the negative, stay proud of who you are and nothing can bring you down.

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