Silicon Valley of Mexico
Upon entering the city of Guadalajara we were greeted by miles of auto malls, giving the impression we were back in the US. This, of course, could be the result of Guadalajara being known as the “Silicon Valley of Mexico.” The city has a large electronics and information technology sector producing software, electronics and digital components.
As someone born and raised in the heart of Silicon Valley, the visual similarities were apparent. That is until we arrived in the downtown core where some colonial architecture has survived, including several cathedrals such as Catedral de la Asunción de María Santísima built in the 16th century. However, most of the colonial buildings were torn down to make way for modern amenities like wide avenues, underground parking and shopping malls.
The city was founded by the Spanish conquistador Nuño de Guzman who later became Governor of the province. The city was originally established in Nochistlán, to the north of modern Guadalaraja. For various reasons the city was moved a total of five times before settling in its current location in 1550. Some of the reasons for moving were a lack of water, and attacks by the indigenous in response to the cruel treatment they received under Nuño de Guzman. The final move was made to settle in a place easily defensible.
During the 19th century the city’s economic, technological, and social sectors flourished, with many small scale industrial businesses started by European immigrants. The connection of Guadalajara by rail to the ports on the Pacific coast helped to further establish the industrial sector.
After 1930, Guadalajara experienced a large population growth, surpassing 1 million people by 1964 and reached its height of 2.5 million in 1980. Between 1940 and 1980 most of the population growth came from rural areas of Mexico. Recently the city has quietly decreased to 1.5 million.
We did not take much time to tour the city, only doing a quick drive through before locating Hotel Portobello. Most our time was spent relaxing from the long drive in our comfortable boutique hotel room.
Interestingly, after our road trip through Mexico we were alerted to the dark underbelly of Jalisco state where Guadalajara is located. Jalisco is smack dab in the middle of the route for drug smuggling, causing the government to frequently skirmish with drug cartels such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
Just weeks after our visit, the city, among many others in the region, was shut down due to 39 different blockades of burning vehicles on the highways. In all, seven people were killed, nineteen wounded, and eleven banks and sixteen gas stations were burned.