Mexico Photography - Fotografica
Bill Bell Photographs
Tampico is the main city in the Mexican
state of Tamaulipas, and is the Mexican Gulf's main economic powerhouse.
Although oil is the largest export of the port of Tampico, it also is a major
exporter of silver, copper, lumber, wool, hemp, and other agricultural products.
Containerized cargo, however, is mainly dealt with at the nearby ocean port of
The present city was founded on April 13, 1823, though there had already been a
series of settlements in the area from very early on. The region had several
Huastec settlements, among them the important site at Las Flores, which
flourished between 1000 and 1250. The Franciscan priest Andrés de Olmos
established a mission in the area in 1532. At his bequest, the Spanish
settlement called San Luis de Tampico was established in 1554. However, its
population was relocated in 1684 to the south of the Pánuco River due to pirate
attacks, among them a particularly destructive incursion by Laurens de Graaf.
The name "Tampico" is of Huastec origin: tam-piko, meaning "place of otters"
(literally "water dogs"). The city is surrounded by rivers and lagoons that
hosted a large population of otters in the past.
Tampico's downtown architecture is an eclectic mix and reflects the growth of
the city during the Porfiriato (the period of rule by President Porfirio Díaz).
It includes many New Orleans-inspired balconies (mostly built of English cast
with original plaques showing their manufacture to be of the Derbyshire forge of
Andrew Handyside) in Plaza de la libertad, a fine Neo-classical Town Hall (or
Palacio Municipal) in Plaza de Armas, and a superb English redbrick Customs
House in the docks. The prevalence of New Orleans-style architecture is
attributed to the early years of the city, when many building supplies,
including pre-built housing components, were shipped to the area during its
initial construction. The "historical" downtown area of Plaza de Armas and Plaza
de Libertad has been greatly restored and improved in recent years with the hope
of attracting more tourist revenue.
The Cathedral of Tampico, also known as The Temple of the Immaculate Conception,
located in Plaza de Armas, dates to the late 19th century - although its current
appearance is due to many restorations. It is of the Neo-classical style in
light brown canter, with Corinthian-style columns and three enormous doors that
form the entrance. It has two towers made of three bodies. The eastern one has a
large, London-made, public chiming clock, a gift from Don Angel Sainz Trapaga.
In its interior, which has been refurbished recently, there are several wall
paintings and other works of art. The altar is of white Carrara marble.
Allegedly, the oil tycoon Edward Doheny donated much money towards the
Cathedral's construction and maintenance
after he based his Mexican oil operations near Tampico after 1902.
On April 9, 1914, Mexican troops and 9 U.S. Navy sailors from the USS Dolphin
engaged over a misunderstanding about fuel supplies. This resulted in the
In 1921, Mexican commercial aviation had its beginnings in Tampico. The first
flight, by Mexicana de Aviación, took off from Tampico's General Francisco
Javier Mina International Airport to Mexico City International Airport in Mexico
City. This airport was also one of the first ILS-equipped airports in the
In 1926, the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in
Mexico was built there. It is still in operation today under the ownership of
Tampico's Country Club, the Campestre, and its golf course, is one of the oldest
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