Before entering 20th Century Arucas, a number of events determined its future commerce, economic growth and culture during the 1880’s and 90’s.
Firstly, from the mid 19th Century there was a rise in the production of cochineal, due to its success in the foreign markets. The inhabitants of Arucas, therefore, enjoyed a period that lasted three decades of unthinkable prosperity up to 1883, when the new synthetic colouring products were introduced in the market. The latter were a determining factor in the cochineal crisis, because they were cheaper to produce and also just as effective in the textile industry. This meant that the town, whose society had put its complete trust in the cochineal as if it were gold, was left in a state of depression. As a result, many small and medium business owners in Arucas were forced to sell their lands for the mere price of a one way ticket to Cuba or Venezuela. Besides the latter and those who worked their lands who were left without a job, musicians, accountants, craftsmen, merchants, barbers and public sector workers, professions found in the middle and lower socio-economic groups, were among those forced to immigrate to the ‘New World’.
Secondly, the demand from Europe for cane sugar rose again, because herbal and exotic drinks, such as teas, coffees and cocoa, became mainstream. This demand was supplied by the wealthiest and most resistant landlords, who fought to bring Arucas back to prosperity. Among those who stayed was the founder of the now world renowned “Fábrica de Ron Arehucas”, Mr Alfonso Gurié Álvarez. He also brought from London state of the art machinery, unrivaled in Gran Canaria, which milled sugar at a very high speed at that time.
Thirdly, the queen Maria Christina de Habsburgo gave Arucas the title “City of Arucas”, due to its progress in industry and commerce, in 1894 in the name of her son and heir Alfonso XIII.
Fourthly, from 1898 due to the loss of colonies such as Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Phillipines, Spain still needed to keep up with their cane sugar provisions, which helped to further strengthen the supply of this produce nationally.
Therefore, at the beginning of the 20th Century Arucas prospered through the production of cane sugar, until after 1911, due to tax issues regarding the exports to mainland Spain and competition from other parts of Europe. From then on Arucas has been prospering thanks to the growth and production of bananas, highly in demand in northern Europe, especially in the British Isles. This has been a determining factor in expanding irrigation areas in and around the town to satisfy the demands of such a produce.
In 1909 the first stone was laid for the imposing church of San Juan Bautista, created in a neogothic style. It was built from stone quarried locally, where the old hermitage erected in 1504 once stood. Click below to watch the video about the church.
During the 20th Century Arucas’ town hall has ensured that the connections between Arucas and Las Palmas as well as those with other areas of the north of the island have kept improving. Nowadays, those who visit Arucas, look for history, architecture, lush gardens, spectacular views from the mountain and rum. Besides these, there a 5 major street festivities that take place every year in the town. Watch the video below to find out about them.
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