The city was established in five other places before moving to its current location. The first settlement in 1532 was in Mesa del Cerro, now known as Nochistlán, Zacatecas. This site was settled by Cristóbal de Oñate as commissioned by Nuño de Guzmán, with the purpose of securing recent conquests and defending them against the still-hostile natives. The settlement did not last long at this spot due to the lack of water; in 1533 it was moved to a location near Tonalá. Four years later, Guzmán ordered that the village be moved to
Tlacotán. While the settlement was in Tlacotán, the Spanish king Charles I granted the coat of arms that the city still has today.
This settlement was ferociously attacked during the Mixtón War in 1543 by Caxcan,
Portecuex and Zacateco peoples under the command of Tenamaxtli. The war was initiated by the natives due to the cruel treatment of Indians by Nuño de Guzmán, in particular the enslavement of captured natives. Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza had to take control of the campaign to suppress the revolt after the Spanish were defeated in several engagements. The conflict ended after Mendoza made some concessions to the Indians such as freeing the Indian slaves and granting amnesty.
The village of Guadalajara barely survived the war, and the villagers attributed their survival to the Archangel Michael, who remains the patron of the city. It was decided to move the city once again, this time to Atemajac, as it was more defensible. The city has remained there to this day. In 1542, records indicate that 126 people were living in Guadalajara and, in the same year, the status of city was granted by the king of Spain. Guadalajara was officially founded on February 14, 1542 in the Valley of Atemajac. The settlement's name came from the Spanish hometown of Nuño de Guzmán.
In 1559, royal offices for the province of Nueva Galicia were moved from Compostela to Guadalajara, as well as the bishopric. Construction of the cathedral began in 1563. In 1575, religious orders such as the Augustinians and Dominicans arrived, which would make the city a center for evangelization efforts.
The historic city center encompasses what was four centers of population, as the villages of Mezquitán, Analco and Mexicaltzingo were annexed to the Atemajac site in 1669.
In 1791, the University of Guadalajara was established in the city, which was then the capital of Nueva Galicia. The inauguration was held in 1792 at the site of the old Santo Tomas College. While the institution was founded during the 18th century, it would not be fully developed until the 20th century, starting in 1925. In 1794, the Hospital Real de San Miguel de Belén, or simply the Hospital de Belén, was opened.
Guadalajara's economy during the 18th century was based on agriculture and the production of non-durable goods such as textiles, shoes and food products.
Guadalajara remained the capital of Nueva Galicia with some modifications until the Mexican War of Independence. After Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla decided not to attack Mexico City, despite early successes, he retreated to Guadalajara in late 1810. Initially, he and his army were welcome in the city, as living conditions had become difficult for workers and Hidalgo promised to lower taxes and put an end to slavery. However, violence by the rebel army to city residents, especially royalists, soured the welcome. Hidalgo did sign a proclamation ending slavery, which was honored in the country since after the war. During this time, he founded the newspaper El Despertador Americano, dedicated to the insurgent cause.
Royalist forces marched to Guadalajara, arriving in January 1811 with nearly 6,000 men. Insurgents Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo wanted to concentrate their forces in the city and plan an escape route should they be defeated, but Hidalgo rejected this. Their second choice was to make a stand at the Puente de Calderon just outside the city. Hidalgo had between 80,000 and 100,000 men and 95 cannons, but the better-trained royalists won, decimating the insurgent army, forcing Hidalgo to flee toward Aguascalientes. Guadalajara remained in royalist hands until nearly the end of the war.
After the state of Jalisco was erected in 1823, the city became its capital. In 1844, General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga initiated a revolt against the government of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, which the president managed to quell personally. However, while Santa Anna was in Guadalajara, a revolt called the
Revolution of the Three Hours brought José Joaquín Herrera to the presidency and put Santa Anna into exile. During the Reform War, President Benito Juárez had his government here in 1856. French troops entered the city during the French Intervention in 1864, and the city was retaken by Mexican troops in 1866.
Despite the violence, the 19th century was a period of economic, technological and social growth for the city. After Independence, small-scale industries developed, many of them owned by immigrants from Europe. Rail lines connecting the city to the Pacific coast and north to the United States intensified trade and allowed products from rural areas of Jalisco state to be shipped. Ranch culture became a very important aspect of Jalisco's and Guadalajara's identity during this time. From 1884 to 1890, electrical service, railroad service and the Observatory were established.
Guadalajara again experienced substantial growth after the 1930s, and the first industrial park was established in 1947. Its population surpassed one million in 1964, and by the 1970s it was Mexico's second-largest city and the largest in western Mexico. Most of the modern city's urbanization took place between the 1940s and the 1980s, with the population doubling every ten years until it stood at 2.5 million in 1980. The population of the municipality has stagnated, and even declined, slowly but steadily, since the early 1990s.
University of Guadalajara in 1886
The increase in population brought with it an increase in the size of what is now called Greater Guadalajara, rather than an increase in the population density of the city. Migrants coming into Guadalajara from the 1940s to the 1980s were mostly from rural areas and lived in the city center until they had enough money to buy property. This property was generally bought in the edges of the city, which were urbanizing into fraccionamientos, or residential areas. In the 1980s, it was described as a "divided city" east to west based on socioeconomic class. Since then, the city has evolved into four sectors, which are still more or less class-centered. The upper classes tend to live in Hidalgo and Juárez in the northwest and southwest, while lower classes tend to live in the city center, Libertad in the northeast and southeast in Reforma. However, lower class development has developed on the city's periphery and upper and middle classes are migrating toward Zapopan, making the situation less neatly divided.(napolitano21-22).
Since 1996, the activity of multinational corporations has had a significant effect on the economic and social development of the city. The presence of companies such as Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and IBM has been based on production facilities built outside the city proper, bringing in foreign labor and capital. This was made possible in the 1980s by surplus labor, infrastructure improvements and government incentives. These companies focus on electrical and electronic items, which is now one of Guadalajara's two main products (the other being beer). This has internationalized the economy, steering it away from manufacturing and toward services, dependent on technology and foreign investment. This has not been favorable for the unskilled working class and traditional labor sectors.
1992 sewer explosions
On April 22, 1992, gasoline explosions in the sewer system over four hours destroyed 8 km (5 mi) of streets in the downtown district of Analco. Gante Street was the most damaged. Officially, 206 people were killed, nearly 500 injured and 15,000 were left homeless. The estimated monetary damage ranges between $300 million and $1 billion. The affected areas can be recognized by their more modern architecture.
Three days before the explosion, residents started complaining of a strong gasoline-like smell coming from the sewers. City workers were dispatched to check the sewers and found dangerously high levels of gasoline fumes. However, no evacuations were ordered. An investigation into the disaster found that there were two precipitating causes. The first was new water pipes that were built too close to an existing gasoline pipeline. Chemical reactions between the pipes caused erosion. The second was a flaw in the sewer design that did not allow accumulated gases to escape.
Arrests were made to indict those responsible for the blasts. Four officials of Pemex (the state oil company) were indicted and charged on the basis of negligence. Ultimately, however, these people were cleared of all charges. Calls for the restructuring of PEMEX were made but they were successfully resisted.
The city has hosted important international events, such as the first Cumbre Iberoamericana in 1991, the Third Summit of Heads of State and Governments from Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union in 2004, the Encuentro Internacional de Promotores y Gestores Culturales in 2005, and the 2011 Pan American Games. It was named the American Capital of Culture in 2005, Ciudad Educadora (Educator City) in 2006 and the first Smart City in Mexico due to its use of technology in development.
In its 2007 survey entitled "Cities of the Future", FDi magazine ranked Guadalajara highest among major Mexican cities and designated Guadalajara as having the second strongest economic potential of any major North American city, behind Chicago. The magazine also ranked it as the most business-friendly Latin American city in 2007.