Info on Mazatlán

Mazatlán is a city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa; the surrounding municipality, for which the city serves as the municipal seat, is also called Mazatlán. It is located at 23°12' N 106°25' W, on the Pacific coast, just across from the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula.
Mazatlán is a Nahuatl word meaning "place of the deer". The city was founded in the 1820s. By the mid-1800s, a large group of immigrants had arrived from Germany. These new citizens developed Mazatlán into a thriving commercial seaport, importing equipment for the nearby gold and silver mines. It served as the capital of Sinaloa from 1859 to 1873.
Mazatlán, with a population of 340,000 as of 2000, is the second-largest city in the state and Mexico's largest commercial port. It is also a popular tourist destination, its beaches lined with resort hotels. A car ferry plies its trade across the Gulf of California from Mazatlán to La Paz, Baja California Sur.
In 2005, Mazatlán hosted the "Serie del Caribe", which is a baseball tournament with teams from México, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.
Every year, Carnival is celebrated during the week before Ash Wednesday. There are a lot of festivities, including the election of a Queen, parades, and balls.
Mazatlan is served by Gral. Rafael Buelna International Airport
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Mazatlan History
Mazatlan may be considered newer than other places in Mexico, but they do not consider the ancient origins of the city by the natives who were there before the Spanish conquerers came into Mexico. Even one of the Catholic churches is built on the foundations of an ancient Indian church structure that predated the Catholic church by thousands of years.
Scientists have found petroglyphs on the off shore islands that they believe date back as far as 10,000 years. Though human settlement dates back before the Spanish, many historical records were destroyed by the zealots who considered any other civilization inferior to theirs. Slavery, slaughter, and disease took it's toll on the local Indians which occupied this and other regions of Mexico. So, as history is written by the victors, I am confined to the record which begins with the Spaniards.
First of all the name Mazatlan is based upon the Nahutal Indian word Mazatl meaning the place of the deer. This is in the Aztec language which was not used in this area, so it appears that one of the interpreters of the conqueror of this area (Nuno de Guzman) was probably the originator of the name. Of course today, with over 600,000 inhabitants, few if any deer are seen. The reason that Mazatlan is a fairly young city is that the city itself did not become anything permanent until the 1820's.
Itinerant Sailors called the place the Islands of Mazatlan because of the many hills, lagoons and estuaries in the vicinity of the natural harbor there. The place where Mazatlan exists was officially founded by Nuno de Guzman and 25 Spaniards who more of less burned their way to this region in 1531. This temporary settlement was founded on Easter Sunday in 1531. Spanish galleons departed the harbor laden with gold taken from the inland mines in the region. And there are the legends of pirate treasure buried up and down the coast in coves during much of this earlier period of time.
The name Mazatlan was first mentioned about 1602, but it did not refer to the Mazatlan of today. It refered to a small village of San Juan Bautista de Mazatlan which is actually 30 miles South of the current city of Mazatlan. That village today carries the name of Villa Union.
It appears that French and English Pirates were the first to take advantage of the benefits of Mazatlan's hill screened harbor to hide in. They would pounce on those rich gold laden Spanish Galleons that were going up and down the Pacific coast. The colonial government finally took action and established a small presidio on the harbor with watchtowers atop the cerros. The pirates were gone by 1800, but the legends of buried gold persists until today.
Mazatlan itself was not developed by the Spanish nor the Indians but by a group of very enterprising German immigrants who developed the port facilities in order to import agricultural equipment. Once they got started, heavy international trade followed quickly.
Over the years, Mazatlan has suffered the plagues of cholera and yellow fever along with the repeated occupations by foreigners. The Port of Mazatlan was occupied by American troops in 1847 during the Mexican American war, in 1864 by the French, during the American Civil War when a group of Confederate soldiers took the city over trying to Perpetuate the ideas of the Confederacy South of the border, and by the British Navy in 1871. These incursions by outsiders gave rise to the tradition of bars on the windows and iron fences with menacing spikes which have come to be quite ornimental (as well as a standard security system) in many of Mazatlan's nicer neighborhoods.
Mazatlan served as the Capitol of the state of Sinaloa from 1859 to 1873 when it had a population of only a few thousand people.
When Porfirio Diaz (1876-1910) took over as president (or dictator as you may wish to define his rule), things changed for the better in Mazatlan. There was a great time of prosperity during his rule as the railroad arrived, the port and lighthouse were modernized, and the cathedral was finished. There was a new age of education, arts and journalism flourished. The Teatro Rubio was completed in the early 1890's which became the premier opera house for the Pacific coastal area around Mazatlan. The famous star Angela Peralta gave several recitals there in August 1883 before she and her company died there of Yellow Fever which claimed over 2,500 lives in Mazatlan.
The City of Mazatlan then got the dubious distinction of being the 2nd city in the world after Tripoli, Libya of being one of the first to suffer aerial bombardment. During the revolution of 1910-17 General Venustiano Carranza (later president) intent on taking the city of Mazatlan, ordered a bi-plane to drop a crude bomb of nails and dynamite wrapped in leather to the target of Neveria Hill adjacent to the down town area of Mazatlan. Well the bomb was crude and the art of bombing was cruder. The bomb landed not on target but on the city streets of Mazatlan and in the process killed two citizens and wounded several others.
After all the uproar of revolution and all that accompanied it, order was restored in the 1920's and then followed 10 years of prosperity, then as in the United States the 1930's depression. After World War Two, there were further port improvements and new highways.
Modern Mazatlan as we now know it came into existance in the 1960's on as the tourists discovered the beautiful white sand and beaches. The city limits expanded to cover this area and the rich resort hotels and tourist attractions that followed up the beach line. The tourist industry and the great fishing industry that was established have provided increasing jobs and the population is expanding rapidly towards 3/4 ths of a million inhabitants. This has become Northwest Mexico's major tourist population that brings in nearly as many tourists (approximately 500,000 yearly) as the population of the city.
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The remains of the foundations of the world of Jesuit missionaries are scattered along the banks of the Sinaloa River, in the northwest of Mexico.
Sipping a cup of coffee, the historian from Guasave, Ramón Hernández, spoke to me about El Nío, a small village 10 km to the north, and of its famous patron saint, San Ignacio de Loyola.
There is a strange, life-sized, figure of San Ignacio carved out of stone in the El Nío church. The whole carving is the color gray with the exception of the head that is in many colors. Although the figure is dressed, the faithful have placed a cape and a type of embroidered shawl over it.
"When they want it to rain, the people take the figure and bathe it in the river," says the historian; but sometimes obstinate, the saint does not always give the people what they want. "When he does not want it to rain, he does not allow himself to be carried."
San Ignacio may seem a hard saint, but, in a way, El Nío and the hundreds of villages in the northwest of Mexico and the south west of the United States owe their existence to him. In addition, the states of Sonora, Baja California, Sinaloa and to a certain extent, California, Arizona, Durango and Chihuahua would not be what they are today without him, because this saint's children created that whole missionary world as of the 16th century. Precisely those regions around the Sinaloa River where Guasave and El Nío are located were their cradle.
The point of departure of what can be considered the foundation of the Jesuit missionary world is located in the current Sinaloa de Leyva, some 80 km from the mouth of the river. Today, this is one of the most picturesque cities in the northwest of Mexico. Its principal virtue lies in its decrepit atmosphere, its crooked, narrow streets and in the infinite number of old 19th century and beginning of the 20th century houses with their high roofs, elegant cornices, and Roman patios.
The Jesuits' exploits started here in 1591 with the arrival of Fathers Gonzalo de Tapia, a Spaniard, and Martín Pérez, a Mexican. In those days, Sinaloa de Leyva used to be called Villa de San Felipe y Santiago de Sinaloa, and it was no more than a sad memory of the failed attempts to conquer by the Spaniards.
Martín Pérez started preaching downstream while Gonzalo de Tapia went north. The latter was short, had poor eyesight, was a bit of a joker, and had a great gift for languages. After being in Sinaloa for just one month, he was able to make himself understood in two indigenous languages. He immediately began to preach the Christian Gospel through catechisms and hymns, but his labor caused a great deal of discontent among the local shamans, to the degree that one of them, Nacaveva, ended up killing him and eating him for supper. But de Tapia had already sown the seed. The humble stick and mud hut he had built with Pérez in Villa de San Felipe y Santiago (of which naturally nothing remains) later became the Jesuits' regional center. The Compañía established a big church and a school there for the education of the Indians, as well as copious granaries, a pharmacy and an infirmary. However, very little of what the Jesuits built or made remains.
The solidity of the socio-economic work of the Compañía, together with the nearby mineral wealth -mainly from Chínipas in the current state of Chihuahua- left the village in a relatively prosperous situation.
Towards the end of the 18th century, Sinaloa de Leyva had a population of about four thousand and was the biggest town in what is today Sinaloa. But it still grew to reach a population of ten thousand by the end of the 19th century. As a testimony of its vigor, we have the aforementioned mansions, but the expulsion of the Compañía de Jesús undoubtedly contributed to this village loosing its claim of being the main town in the territory.
Villa de San Felipe y Santiago was not, strictly speaking, a mission town; it was, rather, a Spanish villa. However, missionaries did go to Cubiri, 7 km to the south, and to Bamoa, 18 km away. Bamoa also has colonial houses and buildings, but it lacks the ancient atmosphere. It also has curious origins. History books tell us that is was founded by Álvar Núñes Cabeza de Vaca, the explorer who went on one of the most fantastic journeys in history, between Louisiana and Sinaloa. In Sonora, he was joined by a group of Pima Indians who accompanied him on the final part of the trip. When they found some other Spanish soldiers near the Sinaloa River in 1536, the Pima escorts wisely kept their distance from the soldiers who formed part of the troops of the fearful Nuño de Guzmán and founded the village. Later on, at the end of the century, Martín Pérez, Hernando Santarén and the Portuguese Pedro Méndez arrived at the newly founded village and opened a mission.
The Jesuit church in Bamoa, like the others in the riverbank towns and villages, was destroyed by the flooding of the Sinaloa River in 1770. The current church appears to have been built in the 19th century, although it was remodeled during the 20th century.
El Nío, 10 km to the south, is the village that suffered most from the dismantling of the Jesuit missionary system. In order to understand its history fully, it has to be appreciated that today it consists of two villages, El Nío and 2 km to the south, Pueblo Viejo. The first mission in El Nío, established in 1595 was located in the latter. The Jesuits began building a large church in about the middle of the 18th century, but the river flooded in 1758 and the works, which had advanced well, had to be abandoned. The remains of this incomplete church still stand and are some of the most impressive in the region.
After the flood, the village was re-founded upstream, although not the whole population went to the new site. Construction on another church started next to the current church in El Nío, but, as though the place was jinxed, it was struck by another calamity. On this occasion, Carlos V outlawed the Compañía de Jesús from the entire Spanish empire in 1767, leaving the missions abandoned yet again.
The current church in El Nío was built in the 19th century and is the location of the already mentioned figure of San Ignacio that was made prior to the village's move.
El Nío is 10 km from Guasave and the area irrigated by the Sinaloa River is becoming increasingly widespread. The long irrigation canals that have made this into one of the richest agricultural areas in the country were dug at the beginning of the 20th century, but necessarily, they go back to the agricultural prosperity of the times of the missions. Many different types of crops were introduced during the 16th century, including garbanzo beans and garden produce.
Apart from being centers of diffusion of the Christian faith, the missions also had economic and educational functions, and they managed to grow more than sufficient crops for local consumption. The excess was sold in the nearby sierras, or was used to feed the new missions founded further north or on the west coast of the Sea of Cortez during their first years of existence.
The last mission village along the Sinaloa River is Tamazula, 18 km south of Guasave. We had the opportunity of speaking to Don Hermes González Maldonado at the community museum there. Don Hermes knows the history of the town better than anyone else does. He explained to us that Tamazula is one of the oldest permanent settlements in the region: the Indians were established there long before the arrival of the Jesuits, and it appears that the place was visited in about 1530 by the sea expedition led by Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza.
The mission in Tamazula, also built in the 16th century, was founded by Father Clerecis, and similar to the one in Guasave, was downed by strong winds and cyclones. There is nothing left in Tamazula to remind us of the times of the Jesuits, except for Don Hermes's story.
We left the underbrush and the hills behind us on the last leg of our journey to Playa Las Glorias, just by the mouth of the river. On the way, we saw irrigation canals, plenty of cattle, ostrich and shrimp farms, crops growing in fields and straight roads. San Ignacio's children would have enjoyed this sight as well as the spectacular sunsets at Las Glorias (the most beautiful we had ever seen), which can today be peacefully enjoyed by tourists.
The city of Guasave is located on the border of the México-Nogales Highway, which, at that level, has turned into Federal Highway 15. You can take public transport from there to any of the mentioned villages. If you are driving, take any of the following routes: NORTH: You will find signs to the highway that will take you the 40 km to Sinaloa de Leyva in Guasave. However, the road going to Bamoa Pueblo, El Nío and Pueblo Viejo runs parallel to the other, about 2.5 km southeast of it. Depending on your travel plans, ask for this road in Guasave or in Sinaloa de Leyva. SOUTH: To get to Tamazula, you have to follow the signs in Guasave and take the paved highway to Las Glorias. After ten kilometers, in El Cubilete, turn left (towards the southeast); Tamazula is 8 km of straight road from that junction. To go on to Playa Las Glorias, take the dirt track opposite the church in Tamazula; this will take you to Zerote and La Brecha. At this last town, you will again get on to the paved highway. The beach is only 13 km from this point.
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How much do you know about the history of Mazatlán? Did you know that Mazatlán was the first city in America to be attacked and bombed by a plane? And did you know that Mazatlán is part of the only state to still play the pre-hispanic game of Ulama? Mazatlán is a city with stories to tell. Before the Spanish conquered México, the area around Mazatlán was inhabited by indigenous people known as the Totorames. They left behind exquisite polychrome pottery with elaborate red and black designs indicative of a high culture. You can see samples of this pottery on display at Mazatlán's Museo Arqueológico, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the state of Sinaloa. The archaeology museum is located downtown (Sixto Osuna 76) and is open 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. However, unlike their renowned inland neighbors, the Toltecs and Aztecs, the Totorames left no pyramids or grand works. Their civilization was gone 200 years before the Spanish arrived. But other local pre-hispanic tribes survived. Just 80 km south of Mazatlán is one of the oldest prehispanic populations in Sinaloa: Chametla, in the municipality of Rosario. When Cortes led the Spanish conquerers searching for a passage to Baja California Sur, they met heavy resistance from the locals. This, then, is evidence that the natives were inhabiting the land before the spaniards came to Mazatlán. After Cortes conquered the Aztecs around present-day México City in 1521, his lieutenants were dispatched to explore and subjugate more of the country. In 1531, renegade opportunist (and enemy of Cortes) Nuño Beltran de Guzman burned his way through Sinaloa with his private army under the banner of conquest. Guzman layed waste to a broad western belt of Pacific México, but also managed to found several towns including Guadalajara, Tepic and Culiacan. He was followed by conquistador Francisco Ibarra, who founded the mining town of Copala in 1565. After a brutal battle with nearby natives, the lands were divided among the spaniards, who became the first permanent residents of what is now Mazatlán. Despite Spanish conquest of the prehispanic peoples of México, some remains of prehispanic culture have endured. For example, the game of Ulama has been a perennial facet of Sinaloan culture. Ulama is derived from the prehispanic sport, Ullamaliztli, which was played in Mesoamerica for fifteen hundred years. The Spanish thought the "ule" (ball used to play Ulama) had magical properties and were, therefore, intimidated by it. Fear and confusion even caused Catholic priests-- who came to America during colonization-- to prohibit the indigenous people from playing the game. But the game survived and is still played today in Mazatlán, one of the last places it is played on earth. Mazatlán was first mentioned in 1602 as the name of a small village, San Juan Bautista de Mazatlán (now called Villa Union), 30 miles south of present day Mazatlán. The name Mazatlán means Place of the Deer in the Nahuatl language, tongue of the Aztecs. However, because the Aztec empire never extended this far to the northwest, it is believed that a Nahuatl-speaking interpreter traveling with Guzman translated the name from the local language. In Spanish, the word for "Deer" is Venados (as in Isla de los Venados, or Deer Island). Although present-day Mazatlán was not yet settled in 1600, English and French pirates used the hill-screened harbor as a place from which to attack the rich galleons that plied the coast.
In response, the colonial government established a small presidio on the harbor and watchtowers atop the cerros, and Mazatlán began to develop as a port town. By 1800, the pirates were gone. Nevertheless, legends persist of treasure buried in hidden caves and under windswept sands, waiting to be discovered. Cerro Vigia, or "Lookout Hill" is one of Mazatlán's three highest observation points (Crestón Hill-- where the lighthouse is located-- is the highest). This lookout was once used by the Spanish to guard the harbor, then later used by Mazatlecans to defend their port in a battle against the French, over 200 years ago. A monument atop the hill called The Cañon is a cannon that commemorates Mazatlecan bravery. The year 1821 brought Mexican independence from Spanish colonial rule after a ten-year struggle. Mazatlán prospered as a port city, and served as the capital of Sinaloa from 1859 to 1873, with a population of several thousand. It was occupied by the U.S. Navy in 1847 during the Mexican-American War, by the French in 1864 (while the United States was pre-occupied by its own Civil War), and by the British in 1871. Under Mexican President Porfirio Diaz (1876-1910) the railroad arrived in Mazatlán, the port and lighthouse were modernized, the cathedral was finished, and the arts blossomed. Unfortunately, the nineteenth century also brought disaster to Mazatlán: tragically, while touring Mazatlán in 1883, the opera company of Angela Peralta-- the "Mexican Nightingale"-- fell victim to a yellow-fever epidemic that claimed the lives of more than 2,500 Mazatlecos. The 20th century brought the revolution of 1910-17 and with it the distinction of being the second city in the world to suffer bombardment from an airplane (Tripoli, Libya, was the first). Cerro de la Neveria (Icebox Hill), adjacent to downtown Mazatlán, is honeycombed with limestone caves once used to store ice imported from San Francisco during the mid-1800s. Mazatlecan families used this ice to preserve their seafood and other perishables before the days of household refrigerators. By the time of the revolution, the hill was used to store ammunition. Devil's Cave-- the red gate which pierces the side of the hill near the malecon-- served as an escape route for soldiers guarding the ammunition. The biplane sent to bomb the hill missed it's target and dropped the package of dynamite and nails onto the city streets, killing two citizens. Today, Cerro Neveria holds only numerous radio and microwave antennae. The decade after the revolution brought prosperity to Mazatlán as its commercial fishing industry continued to expand, followed by the depression of the 1930s. Recovery after the second world war led to port improvements and new highways, followed by the "discovery" of Mazatlán by tourists during the 1960s and 70s, when the city expanded along the Playa Norte. As tourism continued to increase, high-rise hotels sprouted further north in the "Golden Zone." By the early 1990s, the number of inhabitants pushed past half a million, with another million visiting annually. Now in the 21st century, Mazatlán continues to grow and attract foreign interest. Much of the charm of Mazatlán is due to the fact that it does not owe its existence solely to tourism, as its other industries continue to prosper. With tracts of prime real estate still empty, Mazatlán keeps an attractively imperfect air, and despite the giant tourist complex taking shape at its north end, Mazatlán still strikes a good balance between old and new.
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El nombre de Mazatlán proviene etimológicamente del náhuatl "Mazatl", que significa lugar de ciervos y venados .
Los primeros pobladores que habitaron la región fueron tribus indígenas migratorias, que por la necesidad de sobrevivir, Mazatlán les ofrecía alimento a través de la caza de venado y la pesca. Posteriormente en el año de 1531 cruzando territorios desde lo que hoy es la Ciudad de México llega Don Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán acompañado de un ejército de hombres, trayendo consigo una diversidad de objetos y alimentos para establecerse en territorio de Conquista. Con su llegada Don Nuño Beltrán y Francisco de Ibarra quien hace su entrada por la sierra, en la zona norte del Estado, fundan las poblaciones del Noroeste. La actitud tan dominante de los conquistadores y sus acompañantes provocó descontento en los indígenas de la región, por lo cual, se dió una batalla en la que ganaron los primeros; considerándolo un gran triunfo, se repartieron grandes parcelas, convirtiéndose en los primeros residentes de Mazatlán.
Olas Altas
Los españoles le dieron originalmente el nombre de Islas de Mazatlán, debido a las tres islas y cerros que se encuentran en el área, mismos que se utilizaban como punto natural de navegación para los barcos mercantes que venían desde Oriente y Europa. Ingleses como Francis Drake y Thomas Cavendish navegaron en nuestras aguas.
Al comienzo del siglo XVII, utilizaron al puerto como punto de envío de monedas de oro y otros productos valiosos que eran extraídos en cantidades increíbles de Rosario y Mazatlán, para exportarlos a España, teniendo que navegar miles de millas náuticas hasta el Cabo de Hornos y Europa donde vendían lo obtenido.
Mazatlán dio paso firme al inicio del siglo XIX, cuando la ciudad empezó a poblarse de alemanes, franceses, italianos y norteamericanos quienes rápidamente se acoplaron al medio ambiente y formaron familias que contribuyeron a el desarrollo del puerto. Se dieron buenas relaciones con otros países ayudando en la creación de una diversidad de actividades económicas de la Ciudad, así como fructíferas negociaciones entre los pueblos.
Balneario Playa Norte
En el año de 1840, se presentó un incremento en la actividad del puerto ocasionado por la fiebre del oro en California; los aventureros tomaban Mazatlán como un lugar de descanso y esto ayudó a mejorar la economía del puerto. En 1847, la Ciudad experimentó una invasión armada de los Estados Unidos, tomando el puerto por casi un año, siendo representantes de la batalla de Álamo.
Por la fuerza que adquiría Mazatlán, los poderes del Estado fueron instalados en la Ciudad de 1859 a 1873; posteriormente se trasladaron a Culiacán donde se encuentran actualmente.
Mazatlán pese a los efectos de la Revolución Mexicana en los años 20’s ya era un atractivo de gran reputación ganada por los que viajaban por tierra y por quienes gustaban del lugar por la comodidad y tranquilidad que se disfrutaba en su paso por la región. A partir de los años 60’s la ciudad cobra auge en la construcción del Hotel Playa Mazatlán en la Playa Gaviotas, dando inicio a la Zona Dorada, área que se desarrolló a pasos agigantados durante las tres últimas décadas.
Aunado al mejoramiento y crecimiento de las aerolíneas, con un aeropuerto más grande y moderno ubicado a 20 minutos al Sur de la Ciudad, Mazatlán floreció convirtiéndose en el lugar más atractivo del Noroeste, por la infraestructura urbana y las bellezas de sus alrededores.
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Según los historiadores, los grupos indígenas que se encontraban en la región de Mazatlán a la llegada de los españoles eran los Totorames, que habitaban desde la margen sur del Río Piaxtla, hasta el Río de las Cañas. Figuran también en una parte del Municipio de Mazatlán, el grupo de los Xiximes, concretamente en la serranía colindante con el Estado de Durango. Su nombre proviene de una palabra compuesta en el antiguo idioma náhuatl, "Mazatl", que significa venado y "tlan, que significa lugar o tierra de la región. Una vez traducido quiere decir "lugar de ciervos y venados". fué fundado el día 14 de mayo de 1531 por 25 castellanos enviados por Don Nuño de Guzmán, después de fundar Culiacán.
Dentro de la geografía del Estado de Sinaloa, una de las ciudades más importantes debido a su población, desarrollo turístico, industria e infraestructura urbana, es Mazatlán. Aunque por mucho tiempo este sitio ocupó el primer lugar de desarrollo urbano en el Estado, hoy gracias al avance de otras ciudades, Mazatlán es parte del conjunto de poblaciones que concentran la mayor actividad de Sinaloa, pero por su riqueza turística, sus costumbres y su gente emprendedora, que habitan a un lado del mar, conforman a Mazatlán como la Perla del Pacífico.
El clima cálido, el mar, su gente, sus riquezas naturales y sus paradisiacas playas, son conceptos que desde mucho tiempo atrás, en conjunto, originaron que a este punto se le llamara La Perla del Pacifico. Del antiguo idioma náhuatl Mazatlán proviene del vocablo Mazatl que significa Lugar de ciervos y venados, aunque la historia también registra que del lenguaje Nahoa Mazatlán quiere decir Lugar de venados, asentamiento que fue fundado en el año de 1531. También se le conoció como Villa de los Costilla por ser este el apellido de uno de los soldados españoles que venían desde el Presidio, de lo que hoy es Villa Unión, a vigilar los embarques. Después un comerciante de San Sebastián, hoy Concordia, Vicente Hortigosa y la casa comercial Fletes del Rosario, hicieron gestiones ante el gobierno para que cambiara el embarcadero de San Félix, en Ensenada, al pie del Cerro del Crestón, denominándose entonces Puerto de Hortigosa y después se cambió por el nombre de Mazatlán.
La ciudad se localiza en la costa noroeste occidental de México, con clima cálido, seco y tropical. Esta situado a 2 metros 50 centímetros sobre el nivel del mar. Topográficamente el territorio de la Ciudad es generalmente plano con ligeras pendientes dirigidas hacia el estero del Sábalo y al Océano Pacífico. En esta misma zona existe abundante agua pero salada. Las actividades de origen fueron la agricultura, la pesca, y la caza, aunque al paso del tiempo esta ciudad ha ido industrializándose, y presentando avances principalmente en el sector de servicios, como es la hotelería; siendo esta última actividad es la que caracteriza a Mazatlán y lo destaca a nivel nacional e internacional.
Mazatlán esta protegido al sur por la Sierra Madre Occidental. Su extensión territorial es de poco más de 5 mil kilómetros cuadrados. Se sitúa a 21 kilómetros del Trópico de Cáncer; colinda al norte con el municipio de San Ignacio y estado de Durango, al sur con el municipio de Rosario y el Océano Pacífico, al este limita con el municipio de Concordia, y al poniente con el litoral del Océano Pacífico. La Perla del Pacífico se ha extendido con nuevos asentamientos humanos convertidos en colonias, pues sumándose a las antiguas López Mateos, Esperanza, Juárez, y Urias, se integran nuevas áreas habitacionales de carácter popular como Valles del Ejido, y Renato Vega al norte de la ciudad, en zonas que ya colindan con el ejido El Venadillo; al sur se localiza la Sirena, al poniente Lomas del Ebano y Genaro Estrada. Al mismo tiempo que la Ciudad ha expandido su desarrollo en colonias populares, también lo ha hecho a través de los fraccionamientos. Esto a generado un crecimiento medianamente acelerado, de tal forma que, a finales de la década de los noventa, y apunto de arribar al nuevo milenio, Mazatlán se integra por 219 asentamientos humanos. De estos espacios existen 75 fraccionamientos y 144 colonias. Todo esto ha representado una población que actualmente asciende a poco más de 400 mil habitantes.
Durante muchos años Mazatlán fue la principal ciudad de Sinaloa no solo por su población sino por su desarrollo económico, e incluso alcanzó la distinción de ser capital del estado en varias ocasiones, siendo la primera en 1859, gracias al decreto del Congreso Federal del 13 de Octubre de 1830, hasta que Culiacán fue designada sede de los poderes estatales en forma definitiva en 1873. El 1833 se registró la primera epidemia del mortal cólera en Sinaloa. Sin que haya estadísticas fidedignas sobre él numero de víctimas; tres años despué, en 1837, se constituye el primer Ayuntamiento; un año después tuvo lugar el primer hecho de armas. El general José de Urrea se sublevó en Sonora por el federalismo para ser derrotado posteriormente en Mazatlán por las fuerzas del general Mariano Paredes Arrillaga. El 17 de febrero de 1847 el puerto fue bloqueado por buques de guerra de la marina norteamericana, que ya había bloqueado el puerto varias veces, exigiendo la rendición de la plaza, la que ocuparon sin disparar ni un solo tiro; la operación duro 8 meses, registrándose un solo combate en que los norteamericanos sacaron la peor parte.
De 1850 a 1851 hubo nuevas epidemias de colera con 350 muertos. Luego vinieron las intervenciones francesas presentándose a la bahía de Mazatlán, la fragata de guerra francesa Cordelliere, cuyos marinos intentaron un desembarque que fue rechazado. La última intervención militar extranjera fue en el año 1871 por parte de la marina de guerra inglesa. Mazatlán también fue la cuna de la Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa con la fundación del Liceo Rosales por el general Eustaquio Buelna en 1873. Uno de los lugares de más antigüedad es el templo de San José, construído en las faldas del Cerro de la Nevería, por la calle Campana; la construcción inició en 1835 y finalizó en 1842; esta edificación procede de la época porfiriana.
Se conecta al viejo continente a través de la transportación marítima, pues aquí existe uno de los puertos de cabotaje más importantes del país. Vía terrestre se comunica con la región de la Laguna del norte de México, a través de la carretera Mazatlán-Matamoros; hacia el vecino país del norte y hacia el sur de nuestro territorio existe comunicación terrestre, marítima, aérea y ferroviaria. Actualmente Mazatlán esta situado en uno de los mejores puntos para el desarrollo del comercio en el país.
Actualmente para Culiacán existe la vía alterna de una autopista, y está por concluirse otra con la ciudad de Tepic, Nayarit. Como punto estratégico para el comercio en esta Ciudad se han desarrollado industrias que han sobresalido en amplios niveles; el Café El Marino, la Cervecería del Pacífico, y el desarrollo de una sólida industria naval. La pesca ha sido una de los principales actividades económicas de Mazatlán; aquí se concentra el 70 por ciento de la actividad pesquera del estado: la captura de atún, de camarón y otras especies marinas han propiciado un desarrollo en el puerto, por su proceso industrial existen 18 congeladoras. También existen 3 embotelladoras, más de 5 empacadoras de productos alimenticios, 1 molino harinero y 5 astilleros.
Mazatlán también cuenta con un aeropuerto de talla internacional; esto coadyuvó para el desarrollo del gran turismo en el puerto; por éso la industria sin chimeneas, como se le llama a la hotelería, ha logrado avances significativos para postrarse como una de las principales actividades económicas en el Estado. Aquí existen hoteles de primerisima calidad, frente a las playas mas azules y limpias del país a lo largo de 36 kilómetros de malecón, el recorrido turístico más prolongado de estos sitios en el país, que finaliza al sur, precisamente en donde se localiza el primer faro natural más alto del mundo.
Esta es la Perla del Pacífico: el horizonte social y turístico de Mazatlán, aunque no carente de ciertos problemas de infraestructura y de cuellos de botella que van superándose con paso firme y con la confianza de los que aquí viven, se presenta este lugar pleno de promesa y esperanza, como un reto singular que esta siendo afrontado por los pobladores de uno de los rincones más bellos de México: Mazatlán.
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