Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Hidalgo
Eleazar Garcia (PRI)
Pachuca, ( ) formally known as Pachuca de Soto, is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Hidalgo. It is located in the south-central part of the state. Pachuca de Soto is also the name of the municipality of which the city serves as municipal seat. Pachuca is located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) from Mexico City via Mexican Federal Highway 85.
There is no consensus about the origin of the name Pachuca. It has been traced to the word pachoa (strait; opening), Pachoacan (place of government; place of silver and gold), and patlachuican (place of factories; place of tears). The official name of Pachuca is Pachuca de Soto in honor of congressman Manuel Fernando Soto, who is given credit for the creation of Hidalgo state. Its nickname of “La bella airosa” (Beautiful Airy City) comes from the strong winds that blow into the valley through the canyons to the north of the city. In the indigenous Otomi language, Pachuca is known as Nju?nthe. The area had been long inhabited but except for some green obsidian, but the mining that Pachuca is famous for began in the mid-16th century, during Spanish colonial rule. Pachuca remained a major mining center until the mid-20th century, with the city’s fortunes going up and down with the health of the mining sector. In the mid-20th century, a major downturn in mining pushed Pachuca to change its economy to industry, with the revamping of the Universidad Autonoma de Hidalgo. Today, mining is only a fraction of the municipality’s economy.
One cultural aspect that makes Pachuca stand out is the influence that Cornish miners who immigrated here in the 19th century have had. Many of their descendents remain in Pachuca and nearby Real del Monte, as well as two heritages that define the city, soccer and a dish called “pastes.”
Evidence of early human habitation in this area is found in Cerro de las Navajas and Zacualtian, in the Sierra de Pachuca. Here primitive mines to extract green obsidian, arrow heads, scraping tools and mammoth remains can be traced back as far as 12,000 BCE. An ancient pre-Hispanic obsidian tool-making center has also been found in the small town of San Bartolo near the city. Around 2,000 BCE nomadic groups here began to be replaced by sedentary peoples who formed farming villages in an area then known as Itzcuincuitlapilco, of which the municipality of Pachuca is a part. Later artifacts from between 200 CE and 850 CE show Teotihuacan influence with platforms and figurines found in San Bartolo and in Tlapacoya. Development of this area as a city, however, would lag behind other places in the region such as Tulancingo, Tula and Atotonilco El Grande, but the archeological sites here were on the trade routes among these larger cities.
After the Teotihuacan era, the area was dominated by the Chichimecas with their capital in Xaltocan, who called the area around Pachuca Njunthe. Later, the Chichimecas would found the dominion of Cuauhtitlan pushing the native Otomis to the Mezquital Valley. These conquests coalesced into a zone called Cuautlalpan, of which Pachuca was a part. Fortifications in the area of Pachuca city and other areas were built between 1174 and 1181. This dominion would eventually be overrun by the Aztec Triple Alliance between 1427 and 1430, with rule in Pachuca then coming from the city of Tenochtitlan. According to tradition, it was after this conquest that mineral exploitation began here and in neighboring Real del Monte, at a site known as Jacal or San Nicolas. The Aztec governing center was where Plaza Juarez in Pachuca city is now.
The Spanish arrived here in 1528, killing the local Aztec governor, Ixcoatl. Credit for the Spanish conquest of the Pachuca area has been given Francisco Tellez, an artilleryman who came to Mexico with Hernan Cortes in 1519. He and Gonzalo Rodriguez were the first Spaniards here, constructing two feudal estates, and calling the area Real de Minas de Pachuca. Tellez was also given credit for laying out the colonial city of Pachuca on the European model but this story has been proven false, with no alternative version. Mining resources were not discovered here until 1552, and there are several versions of this story. The most probable comes from a work called “Descripcion Anonima de la Minas de Pachuca” (Anonymous Description of the Mines of Pachuca) written between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th. This work claims that the first mineral deposits were found by Alonso Rodriguez de Salgado on his ranch on the outskirts of Pachuca in two large hills called Magdalena and Cristobal. This discovery would quickly change the area’s economy from agriculture to one dependent almost completely on mining.
As soon as 1560, the population of the city had tripled to 2,200 most employed in mining in some way. Because of this rapid growth, and the ruggedness of the terrain, it was impossible to lay out an orderly set of streets. The first main plaza was placed next to the Asuncion Parish, which is now the Garden of the Constitution. Next to the “Cajas Reales” (Royal Safe) was constructed to guard the fifth that belonged to the king.
In 1555, on the Purisima Concepcion Hacienda, now the site of a tennis club, Bartolome de Medina found the largest mineral deposits here as well as developed new ways of extracting minerals from ore. This caused Pachuca to grow even more with the discovery of new deposits and accelerated extraction processes. Mining operations spread to nearby areas such as Atotonilco, Actopan and Tizayuca. The population of the town continued to grow, leading Pachuca to be declared a city in 1813.
Mining output had waned by the 18th century but was revived by the first Count of Regla, Pedro Romero de Terreros, who discovered new veins of ore, mostly in nearly Real del Monte. During the Mexican War of Independence, the city was taken by Miguel Serrano and Vicente Beristain de Souza in 1812, which caused the mines here to be abandoned by owners loyal to Spain. The war left the Pachuca area in a state of chaos, both politically and economically. The third Count of Regla brought the first Cornish miners and technology around 1824. The Cornish took over mines abandoned by the Spanish, bringing 1,500 tones of more modern equipment from Cornwall. Cornish companies eventually dominated mining here until 1848, when the Mexican American War forced them to sell out to a Mexican company by the name of Mackintosh, Escondon, Beistegui and John Rule. Mining operations resumed in 1850, especially in the Rosario mine.
Mining operations were disrupted again by the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. The city was first taken by forces loyal to Francisco I. Madero in 1911. General under Pancho Villa, Roberto Martinez y Martinez entered the city in 1915. Both incursions were due to the economic importance of the mines here. During this time, American investors came to Pachuca, again updating the mining technology used here. From 1906 to 1947 the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company was the primary producer here, with output reaching its peak in the 1930s. But by 1947, mining here had become too costly, because of political instability, labor disputes and low prices for silver on the world market. The company sold its interests to the Mexican government in 1965.
The decline in mining here in the mid-20th century had disastrous effects on the city. Many of the abandoned houses and other buildings were in danger of collapse. Under ownership of the Mexican government, mining came to a near standstill. However, it was also during this time that Pachuca’s economy began to shift from mining to industry. The old Instituto Cientifico Literario Autonomo de Hidalgo was converted to the Universidad Autonoma del Estado in 1961, which would become one of the impetuses to the growth of the city in the following years, as it turned out a better-educated and more technical workforce in areas such as law, engineering, business and medicine. In the late 1950s and through the 1960s, some growth was seen in the way of suburban developments for workers in newly built factories.
Population growth returned starting in the 1970s and continued through the 1990s because of the growth of non-mining industries as well as a development of a large student population for the state university as well as other educational institutions. Another impetus was the movement of many government offices to Pachuca with new government facilities such as the State Government Palace and the State Supreme Court built in the 1970s. Much of the city’s growth during this time was due to new housing projects, but infrastructure projects such as the new Municipal Market, the remodeling of the Plaza Benito Juarez and the main bus station also took place.
The Feria de Pachuca is known colloquially by several names such as the Feria Tradicional/Internacional de San Francisco, the Feria de Hidalgo and the Feria de Caballo. It is the most important annual event in the state of Hidalgo, taking place every October in facilities located in the south of Pachuca. The festival began as a liturgical event sponsored by monks at the monastery of San Francisco in the 16th century, which eventually drew dignitaries from surrounding communities. The festival sponsors a number of events such as bullfights, cockfights, charreadas, horse shows, rodeos, crafts and folk dance shows, livestock exhibitions and features regional cuisine. It also host concerts by well-known Mexican musical artists.
Other notable events in the city include the Ramon Noble Guitar Festival and the Feria Hidaltur. The first presents concerts by guitarists of various genres from countries such as Brazil, Spain, the U.S., Israel, England and Mexico. There are classes and workshops by renowned artists as well as a national level competition for classical guitar. The Feria Hidaltur is held in March and April with the purpose of promoting the arts and crafts of Hidalgo state. The festival also has equestrian events, hot-air balloons and other attractions.