Mazatlan, the official name given to our port after 1828, refers to the prehispanic roots of the valley that surrounds it and forms its municipality. The totorames, who spoke the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, affirmed the abundance of the deer in these lands by calling them that. However, as some will already know, the first town that was identified by this name was not the port, but the colonial prison that is currently named Villa Union. For that reason before this last one will take its current denomination and leave the old one free for the port, the present Mazatlan possessed different unofficial names, adopted by the people of the region and the navigators, and even, even after obtaining it, the Mazatlecos and its visitors also knew it by other denominations, among which are the following.
1. Islas de Mazatlán
Given by the Spaniards during the colonial period, distinguishing the natural bay of the prison that was called Mazatlan. In those yesterdays the port had, in addition to the five islands that now border its waters, other two that were the Crestón and the Del Chivo, now connected by dykes to the continent. The lagoons and estuaries also played an important role to have this denomination, since in the distance these waters that were scattered by the peninsula mazatleca gave the impression that the hills of Vigía, Nevería, and Montuosa were also islands.
2. Villa de los Costilla
Given by the first settlers of the port referring to one of the families that had given generations of brown militiamen, those lookouts that were betting in the summits to watch their coasts. Possibly this is also one of the first families to have their permanent home in this place, taking advantage of the proximity to the sea to fish, as mentioned by Governor Joseph de Garibay at the end of the 18th century. When people went to the port, even without an official name, they gave the name of this family to indicate their destiny.
3. Puerto de Ortigosa
Given by the merchants and marine authorities, if not to the old prison of Mazatlan changed its name to Villa Union, this would be the official name of our port. When the fragile and improvised pier of San Felix, stationed in the current Puerto Viejo, served for the entry of the first vessels to Mazatlan, open to the marine trade since 1821, a Concordia merchant named Vicente Ortigosa proposed and succeeded in making a new Dock at the side of the lighthouse, at the entrance to the bay, driving the ships away from the fierce waves of the open sea.
4. Perla del Pacifico
Given by the mazatlecos and sailors who arrived at the port at the end of the XIX century. Although this name is currently used for tourism, highlighting the beauty and quality of its beaches, initially referred to its great port capacity and mandatory passage for goods arriving from the east before the Panama Canal was built. Many other ports in Latin America have this name, sharing it only in Mexico with Ensenada, which had it since the 17th century, and Acapulco since the beginning of the 20th century.
5. Atenas de Occidente
Given by the journalist, politician and revolutionary José Ferrel, one of the greatest opponents of Cañedismo, a Sinaloan version of Porfirio Diaz. This man worked for more than a decade for the Mail in the afternoon, being one of his best pens during the liberal era of this under the edition of Francisco Valadés, his cousin. Salamanca was the first city to be called as such because it has the oldest university in Europe, where famous people like Miguel de Cervantes would study. When given to Mazatlan, Ferrel referred to the enormous intellectual and cultural melting pot that had been formed in the port.
6. Capital del Camarón
Given by the Mazatlecos since the mid-twentieth century, when this was almost the only sustenance for the porteños, before tourism appeared as the second pillar of its economy. Since the 1920s, when the revolution passed, taking with it the commercial activity that had given the port its golden age during the Porfiriato, shrimp and shark were the main animals that were fished in the port. Towards the end of World War II the shark was disappearing, while shrimp remained the quintessential ingredient of Mazatlan gastronomy.
As a curiosity, we could only add to this note the fact that Mazatlan, although it was the birthplace of great characters and the scene of patriotic events, does not have a surname like other communities in the region, such as Sinaloa de Leyva or Culiacán de Rosales, or the city with which it shares its name: Mazatlán Villa de Flores, in the state of Oaxaca. We could well call it Mazatlan de Estrada, Iturbe or Carrasco, to mention some of its most important natives, uniting with this the pre-Hispanic antiquity with the Mexican history of the port. However, even if this was done, both for its inhabitants and visitors, Mazatlan is already saying a lot.
The Mazatlan Post