A Stylish Past Exists within Acapulco’s Present
Acapulco has a long history, but it really captured the world’s attention in the ‘30s right on through to the ‘70s, when it was the jet-setting destination of choice for Hollywood’s hottest celebrities. Liz Taylor tied the knot with Mike Todd in Acapulco; John Wayne fished its waters and sank many a shot of tequila. Stars like Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot, Johnny Weismuller and Ava Gardner played by day and partied by night in this city on the bay.
One of the glories of vacationing in modern-day Acapulco is the chance to immerse yourself in a make believe world – a kind of retro-paradise with all of the modern amenities. Sitting at a corner table in a posh restaurant overlooking the Bay of Santa Lucia, it’s not too hard to summon up the ghosts of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, romancing each other over a Coco Loco as mariachis sing in the background.
The city’s storied past began with its earliest inhabitants, the Pre-Hispanic Nahua Indians, who dwelled in the area since 3000 BC. They gave the beachside region its original and mysterious name of Aca-pol-co, which translates as “place where the reeds were destroyed.”
The Spaniards dropped anchor in 1521 and quickly changed Acapulco’s name to “Santa Lucia” While the name change didn’t stick the city’s beautiful bay is still called the Bay of Santa Lucia.
Over the centuries, Acapulco became an important port in the sea trade between Asia and Europe. Acapulco’s Fort of San Diego has seen its share of action, including beating back pirate attacks. The fort also played an important part in the Mexican War of Independence, when the Spanish defended Acapulco from Mexican soldiers.
You could make a case that Acapulco’s spot on the tourism map began back in the 1920s, when the fun-loving Prince of Wales chose Acapulco for his vacation. It didn’t take long for other bold-face names to take notice. When a highway linking Acapulco to Mexico City was completed in 1931, the floodgates were open and the upper crust of Mexico City began making Acapulco their second home.