What is a “Parada”?
Parada is the Spanish word for ‘Bus Stop’ or ‘Trolley Stop”.
Although there are no actual numbers on the bus stops in Santurce, locals all refer to areas along Ponce de Leon Avenue as belonging to a ‘parada’ or ‘stop’.
This is a remnant of the old trolley line from the early 1900’s which had numbered ‘paradas’ along Ponce de Leon Avenue starting with #1 in Old San Juan and ending with #40 in Rio Piedras near the university.
The establishment of the trolley system lead to the expansion of the city beyond the walls of Old San Juan. Eventually, the stops between 20 and 25 became the major entertainment and shopping district of San Juan. In the 1960’s, ‘Stop 22’ (where the Fine Arts Center is now located) was celebrated as the ‘Times Square of San Juan’.
As television became widely available in the 1970’s – there was no need for so many theaters. In the 1980’s the exclusive stores moved to the shopping malls and business offices relocated to the new Hato Rey business district. The Santurce area was largely abandoned until its renaissaince as the Arts and Culture District at the turn of the 21st century. Now, one of San Juan’s most vibrant neighborhoods – we have the highest concentration of arts and culture in the Caribbean.
Even though there hasn’t been a trolley in San Juan since the 1940’s – locals still refer to ‘paradas’ and ‘stops’ every day.
Although there aren’t numbers on todays bus stops – we have estimated the general location of the old stops. Even locals can get into heated discussions about whether something is really at ‘stop 22’ or ‘stop 23’ – but you’ll be in the general area if you follow our guide.
It would be a great idea for the AMA (Bus Authority) to put markers on today’s bus stops to replicate the old stop numbers.
There is a wonderful collection of photos and information about the old trolley line online: The Tramways of San Juan, Puerto Rico by Allen Morrison.