Puerto Progreso, photo by Sofía Navarro.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Pablo Chico to talk about Progreso’s history and how this wonderful town once began.

(yucatan.gob.mx).- Today we are telling the story of how Progreso was first established and how it became one of the principal cities in Yucatán thanks to its enormous economic and tourist potential.

D. Juan Miguel Castro was the man behind the initiative on finding the right place to establish a new port since Sisal’s port had many deficiencies and Campeche’s port was very far from Mérida. It was D. Ignacio Comonfort who executed the decree of February 25th, 1856, in which permission was granted for the establishment of a new town in the place called Progreso.

A year later, Casimiro Manzanilla was in charge of the layout of the village and when the first wooden and masonry houses were built. “However, the real progress development has its definitive momentum until the year 1871, when by decree of Benito Juárez, the maritime customs of Sisal were transferred to the new port, Progreso” (Frías, Municipality of Progreso…, p. 14-16).

Photo: https://www.yucatan.gob.mx/?p=progreso

It was during the last three decades of the 19th century when Progreso was provided with the infrastructure and urban equipment necessary for it to function as a new commercial port and population center.

The port and the Aduana building were the first projects in 1870 after Juárez’s decree was announced, followed by the telegraph line between Mérida and Progreso a year later, as well as the beginning of the construction of the railroad line that would connect Mérida with the port, and the construction of the municipal palace in 1875.

The first market was built in 1885 and inaugurated in 1893 and the Dante Theater was inaugurated in 1896.

Photo: https://www.yucatan.gob.mx/?p=progreso

The progress of Progreso is due to its impressive development in terms of physical structure, as well as its political relevance, and the commercial exchange of imports and exports, becoming 1880 three times more important than the Campeche’s Aduana.

The accelerated development of Progreso goes hand in hand with the development of the henequen agro-industry; the cultivation and primary processing of the henequen plant to obtain fibers, transforming the landscape and the social structure of a large territorial extension of northern Yucatán, making henequen its main export product.

It was in 1999 when work began on the fourth stage of the port expansion, one of the most important investments in the maritime port sector. Its main objective was to increase the depth of the port from 7.5 to 12 meters in the navigation channel and to 11.30 meters in the maneuvering docks, which would allow access to larger vessels. 

Photo: https://www.yucatan.gob.mx/?p=progreso

With the navigation channel finished and the cruise ship dock, a capacity to attend two mega cruise ships of the fourth generation simultaneously and a position to receive tourist ferries, Progreso is currently a tourist connection point and an open border to the commercial exchange with the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Don’t forget to visit the many attractions that Progreso offers such as the Museo del Meteorito, the Malecón, the Puerte de Chocolate, El Corchito and many others.

By Sofía Navarro.


Cuaderno 3, Facultad de arquitectura Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, 1990.

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