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Introducing Ponce

Ponce native son and author Abelardo Díaz Alfaro famously called Ponce a baluarte irreductible de puertorriqueñidad – a bastion of the irreducible essence of Puerto Rico. Strolling around the sparkling fountains in the central square and narrow streets of the city’s historic center evokes the stately spirit of Puerto Rico’s past. Unfortunately, the neighborhoods that surround the square bear witness to some woeful characteristics of Puerto Rico’s present: irreducible snarls of congested traffic, economic stagnation and cookie-cutter urban sprawl. Even though the honking and ceaseless construction are signs of the city’s growth, the communities surrounding San Juan have grown much faster, unseating Ponce’s status as Puerto Rico’s second-most populated metropolis.

The city has a more easygoing spirit than other major cities on the island, with businesses that open late and close early, couples who stroll circles around the city’s fountains and spend breezy evenings 2 miles south at the shoreline. There, at a developed facility called La Guancha Paseo Tablado, clusters of restaurants and cafes draw families for open-air dinners on the weekend. After the kids go to bed, the drinks flow and the area jumps with a booming mix of reggaetón and salsa.