Some port cities are legends of blood and strife. Maybe there’s something in the water, maybe it’s the beautiful views, but Acapulco seemed to mellow out its residents. Acapulco history stretches back to the earliest inhabitants, the Pre-Hispanic Yope people and the Nahua Indians, who dwelled in the area since 3,000 B.C. and gave the area its name, Aca-pol-co, which translates as “Place Where the Reeds were Destroyed.”
The Spaniards first arrived in 1502. One of Hernán Cortéz’s men, Fernando Chico, did what so many colonizers did. He instantly changed Aca-pol-co’s name to “Santa Lucia.” This moniker didn’t stick, although Acapulco’s beautiful bay is still called the Bay of Santa Lucia. Over the centuries Acapulco grew into a vital port in the sea trade between Asia and Europe. Acapulco’s penchant for hosting visitors is bone-deep, since it’s been laying out the red carpet for moneyed travelers and modest seamen for half a millennium.
Throughout Acapulco’s history there were some blips of violence. Acapulco’s Fort of San Diego has played an important part in the city’s history, first by repelling pirate attacks, and later in its use by the Spanish to defend the city from Mexican soldiers in the Mexico War of Independence from 1810 to 1821.
Acapulco found a place on the tourism map when the Prince of Wales vacationed there back in the 1920s. Pretty soon a bunch of bold-faced names followed in the prince’s footsteps. In 1931, when the highway linking Acapulco to Mexico City was finished, a steady stream of upper-class Mexico City residents began making tracks for the beaches and sunshine they were missing in the capital.
Acapulco flourished and then faded, although it’s still a vital tourist area, primarily for spring-breakers and Mexicans on holiday.