Ribeira Grande - The History
According to the chronicler Gaspar Frutuoso, the first people who ploughed the island chose the south coast to settle in, moving from the east to the west, from Povoação to Vila Franca, and only later to the north coast. Due to the fertility of the soil and to the abundance of water in the area that came to be known as Ribeira Grande, the settlers remained in this plain of the north central part of the island.
In 1474, the arrival of new settlers from Madeira promoted the rapid growth of the island of São Miguel. A quarter of a century later, in 1499, the town of Ponta Delgada was created. Eight years later, in 1507, Ribeira Grande officially became a town. However, there are plausible signs that Ribeira Grande might have already been a de facto town before becoming one by law.
According to Frutuoso, its continuous growth came suddenly to a halt due to the serious seismic and volcanic crisis of the summer of 1563, which was followed by a catastrophic flood in the next winter. The town was immediately rebuilt over the 18th century and renewed its urban fabric.
The town's limit was suddenly extended in the 1820's thanks to the addition of the parishes of Nossa Senhora da Graça and Espírito Santo. The municipality as we know it was consolidated in the last quarter of the 19th century, with the addition of Fenais da Ajuda. In the third quarter of the 19th century the town of Ribeira Grande witnessed a new urban impetus.
Early in the second half of the 20th century there was an unsuccessful attempt to turn the town of Ribeira Grande into a city. New developments were built. At last, the old town hidden from the sea became a city that firmly embraces the sea and tries to reach the future here and now.