Online Encyclopedia

SANTIAGO DE CUBA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 193 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, a city and seaport of Cuba, on the S. coast of the E. end of the island, capital of the province of Oriente, and next to Havana the most important city of the Republic. Pop. (1907) 45,470, of whom 56.7% was coloured and 13.6% was foreign-born. It is connected by the Cuba railway with Havana, 54o m. to the W.N.W.; short railways extend into the interior through gaps in the mountains north-ward; and there are steamer connexions with other Cuban ports and with New York and Europe. Santiago is situated about 6 m. inland on a magnificent land-locked bay (6 m. long and 3 M. wide), connected with the Caribbean Sea by a long, narrow, winding channel with rocky escarpment walls, in places less than 200 yds. apart. The largest vessels have ready entrance to the harbour—which has a periphery of 15 M. or more in length—but direct access to the wharves is impossible for those of more than moderate draft (about 14 ft.). Smith Key, an island used as a watering-place, divides it into an outer and an inner basin. To the E. of the sea portal stand the Morro, a picturesque fort (built 16J3 seq.), on a jutting point 200 ft. above the water, and the Estrella; and to the W. the Socapa. West of the harbour are low hills, to the E. precipitous cliffs, and N. and N.E., below the superb background of the Sierra Maestra, is an amphitheatre of hills, over which the city straggles in tortuous streets. The houses are almost all of one storey, built in the quaint style of southern Spain, with red-tile roofs, and the better ones with verandas and court gardens. There is a promenade along the harbour and a botanical garden. Facing the Plaza de Cespedes .(once Plaza de la Reina and then Plaza de Armas) are hotels and clubs, the large municipal building—formerly the governor's palace (1855 seq.)—and the cathedral. In the cathedral, which is in better taste than the cathedral of Havana, Diego Velazquez (c. 1460-1524), conqueror of Cuba, was buried. It has suffered much from earthquakes and has been extensively repaired. Probably the oldest building in Cuba is the convent of Sari Francisco (a church since the secularization of the religious orders in 1841), which dates in part from the first half of the 16th century. The 18th-century Filarmonia theatre is'now dilapidated. The other public buildings are hardly noteworthy. Great improvements have been made in the city since the end of colonial rule, especially as regards the streets, the water-supply and other public works, and sanitation. On a hill overlooking the city is a beautiful school-house of native limestone, erected by the American military government as a model for the rest of the island. Santiago is the hottest city of Cuba (mean temperature in winter about 82° F., in summer about 88°), owing mainly to the mountains that shut off the breezes from the E. There is superb mountain scenery on the roads to El Caney and San Luis (pop. 1907, 3441), in the thickly populated valley of the Cauto. In the barren mountainous country surrounding the city are valuable mines of iron, copper and manganese. On these the prosperity of the province largely depends. There are also foundries, soap-works, tan-yards and cigar factories. The city has an important trade with the interior, with other Cuban ports, and to a less extent with New York and European ports. Mineral ores, tobacco and cigars, coffee, cacao, sugar and rum and cabinet-woods are the main articles of export. Copper ore was once exported in as great quantities as 25,000 tons annually, but the best days of the mines were in the middle of the 19th century. The mines of Cobre, a few miles W. of Santiago, have an interesting history. They were first worked for the government by slaves, which were freed in 1799. History.—Santiago is less important politically under the Republic than it was when Cuba was a Spanish dependency. The place was founded in 1514 by Diego Velazquez, and the capital of the island was removed thither from Baracoa. Its splendid bay, and easy communication with the capital of Santo Domingo, then the seat of government of the Indies, determined its original importance. From Santiago in 1518–1519 departed the historic expeditions of Juan de Grijalva, Hernan Cortes and Pamfilo de Narvaez—the last of 18 vessels and rtoo men of arms, excluding sailors. So important already was the city that its ayuntamiento had the powers of a Spanish city of the second class. In 1522 it received the arms and title of ciudad, and its church was made the cathedral of the island (Baracoa losing the honour). But before 1550 the drain of military expeditions to the continent, the quarrels of civil, military and ecclesiastical powers, and of citizens, and the emigration of colonists to the Main (not in small part due to the abolition of the encomiendas of the Indians), produced a fatal decadence. In 1589 Havana became the capital. Santiago was occupied and plundered by French corsairs in 1553, and again by a British military force from Jamaica in 1662. The capture of that island had caused an immigration of Spanish refugees to Santiago that greatly in-creased its importance; and the illicit trade to the same island—mainly in hides and cattle—that flourished from this time on-ward was a main prop of prosperity. From 1607 to 1826 the island was divided into two departments, with Santiago as the capital of the E. department—under a governor who until 18o1 in political matters received orders direct from the crown. After 1826 Santiago was simply the capital of a province. In July 1741 a British squadron from Jamaica under Admiral Edward Vernon and General Thomas Wentworth landed at Guantanamo (which they named Cumberland Bay) and during four months operated unsuccessfully against Santiago. The climate made great ravages among the British, who lost perhaps 2000 out of 5000 men. The bishopric became an archbishopric in 1788, when a suffragan bishopric was established at Havana. J. B. Vaillant (governor in 1788–1796) and J. N. Quintana (governor in 1796–1799) did much to improve the city and encourage literature. After the cession of Santo Domingo to France, and after the French evacuation of that island, thousands of refugees settled in and about Santiago. They founded coffee and sugar plantations ' and gave a great impulse to trade. The population in 1827 was about 27,000. There were destructive earthquakes in 1675, 1679, 1766 and 1852. Dr Francesco Antommarchi (1780-1838), the physician who attended Napoleon in his last illness, died in Santiago, and a monpment in the cemetery commemorates his benefactions to the poor. In the 19th century some striking historical events are associated with Santiago. One was the Virginius " affair. The " Virginius " was a blockade-runner in the Civil War; it became a prize of the Federal government, by which it was sold in 1870 to an American, J. F. Patterson, who immediately registered it in the New York Custom House. It later appeared that Patterson was merely acting for a number of Cuban insurgents. On the 31st of October, then commanded by Joseph Fry, a former officer of the Federal and Confederate navies, and having a crew of fifty-two (chiefly Americans and Englishmen) and 103 passengers (mostly Cubans), she was captured off Morant Bay, Jamaica, by the Spanish vessel "Tornado," and was taken to Santiago, where, after a summary
End of Article: SANTIAGO DE CUBA
[back]
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, or SANTIAGO (formerly writt...
[next]
SANTIAGO DE LAS VEGAS

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.