Traditional town centers are the urban counterpart of the rural imaginary, prevalent, as a rule, in representations of Puerto Rican identity. The transformation of a rural economy into an industrial one after the 1950s, favored other settlement forms, particularly suburban developments spurred by the potential of the automobile. At present, urban centers compete with shopping mega-structures. Having experienced substantial population losses in the last decades, they are now reduced to mere service centers.
The Project for the Revitalization of Traditional Urban Centers of the Department of Urbanism, promotes the qualitative regeneration of public space as the first step of a resettlement strategy. This initiative has offered artists a vast stock of public spaces and buildings, as a means of adding art to the heart of island towns. Such works should celebrate the characteristics of each town without falling prey to nostalgia or a false reconciliation with populist expressions. The selected works evidence a vast array of formats and themes, that range from the praise of natural landscape to bolder visions, committed to the future of these strongholds of everyday life in Puerto Rico.