The most iconic building in the city of Ponce — and some might argue on the entire island of Puerto Rico — is a flashy grand dame dressed in garish red and black horizontal stripes with Moorish detailing. Seemingly lifted straight from an art director’s wildest fever dream and dropped into the middle of bustling Plaza Las Delicias alongside Ponce Cathedral, this well-preserved beauty still turns heads at the ripe old age of 134. Her proper name is Parque de Bombas de Ponce, but you can just call her “firehouse.”
Designed by Spanish Army solider-turned-architect-turned-mayor Maximo de Meana y Guridi, Parque de Bombas was erected as the main exhibition pavilion for the 1882 Ponce World Fair before being repurposed shortly thereafter as Puerto Rico’s first proper fire station. The wood-framed, tower-flanked Gothic structure served as an active firefighting hub up until 1990 when it was decommissioned. Following an extensive restoration, Parque de Bombas reopened as a visitor’s center and firefighting museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. This is a world famous icon you don’t want to miss when visiting Ponce.