Guadalajara (gwäˌħälähäˈrä) [key], city (1990 pop. 1,650,042), capital of Jalisco state, SW Mexico, second largest city of Mexico. The metropolitan area includes close to 3 million people. Guadalajara is a beautiful, spacious city on a plain more than 5,000 ft (1,524 m) high and surrounded by mountains. It is a modern commercial metropolis with many picturesque survivals of the Spanish colonial era. The mild, clear, dry climate has made it a popular health resort, and because of its charm it is often called "Perla del Occidente" (Pearl of the West).
Guadalajara is also an important communications and industrial center. Industry is aided by direct rail service to the United States and by a hydroelectric plant utilizing the Juanacatlán falls on the Santiago River. Food processing, the manufacture of xerographic and photographic equipment, plastics, chemicals, electronic products, and motor vehicles are among the leading industries. The region around the city is important for agriculture and livestock raising; some coal is also mined. The most famous products of Guadalajara and its environs are intricately designed and finely worked glassware and pottery.
Founded by Cristóbal de Oñate c.1530, Guadalajara was moved twice, before and during the Mixtón War, because of military pressure by the region's native inhabitants; it was permanently established in 1542, the date chosen as its official founding. Guadalajara became the seat of the audiencia of Nueva Galicia. Easily captured in 1810 by Hidalgo y Costilla during the war against Spain, the city was the center of reform activities. Again in 1858, in the War of Reform, it was briefly occupied by the liberals under Benito Juárez.
The city's notable public buildings include the cathedral, finished in 1618 after more than 50 years of work, and the governor's palace, begun in 1643. The cathedral, which houses B. E. Murillo's The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, has been partially destroyed several times by earthquakes and represents a conglomerate of architectural styles. The governor's palace, with murals by J. C. Orozco, is an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture. The Univ. of Guadalajara and the Instituto Cultural Cabaña also contain Orozco murals. The ornate Teatro Degollado is modeled on Milan's La Scala.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.