Sixth decade 1943 – 1953

Puerto Rico

  • World War II ended in 1945, but from 1950 to 1953, the United States fought in the Korean War. Puerto Rican soldiers distinguished themselves in both wars.
  • To combat the proliferation of arrabales – shantytowns – the Puerto Rican government began the construction of public housing complexes called caseríos. Lloréns Torres was one of the biggest.
  • Great strides were being made across all sectors of the economy. With the passing of the Ley de Tierras (Land Act), the government could get land tenancy under control, and the Autoridad de Tierras became the major producer and manufacturer of sugarcane.
  • In 1946, President Harry S. Truman named Jesús T. Piñero the first Puerto Rican governor.
  • In 1948, Luis Muñoz Marín became the first elected governor of Puerto Rico.
  • In 1950, Congress approved of Act 600, which ultimately led to the approval of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1952.
  • The country remained mired in high poverty rates, which accelerated migration to the United States.
  • Operation Bootstrap was initiated by the Puerto Rican and federal governments, which in turn accelerated the industrialization of Puerto Rico, then one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean. American factories were established on the island, taking advantage of cheap labor and tax-free access to continental labor markets.
  • Thus, the economy’s base was fixed on products related to foodstuffs, tobacco, textiles, appliances, and tourism.
  • With this initiative, Puerto Rico shifted from an agricultural economy to one predicated on industrial production.
  • The International Olympic Committee accepted Puerto Rico as a member, and Puerto Ricans participated for the first time in the 1948 London Olympic Games.


  • The 1940s were the golden age of Puerto Rican popular and folk music. Cortijo y su Combo and Ismael Cortijo were hot, as were Mon Rivera and his trabalenguas (tongue twisters) and Rafael Cepeda and his Familia Cepeda.
  • In 1945, the Figueroa Brothers Quintet was formally established, and in 1951, Amaury Veray wrote the renowned Villancico Yaucano.
  • Alfred D. Herger, an adolescent, began to write a column in the El Mundo newspaper on rock.
  • Musical traditions were still going strong: folk songs, bomba, plena, aguinaldos, parrandas, bolero were all still being played. Puerto Rican composers, performers, and musicians were finding success everywhere, whether Puerto Rico or New York.
  • Innumerable Puerto Rican singers and composers would stand out over the next several decades. Among them were Charlie Palmieri, Santitos Colón, Gilberto Monroig, Willie Rosario, Johnny Albino, Bobby Capó, Felipe Rodríguez “La Voz”, and Tito Rodríguez, among others.

Christmas Tree

  • By the end of the two wars, natural trees became the preferred option.
  • Their preferred decorations were bells, balls, shiny baubles and angels. Hard plastic ornaments dominated decorations in the 1940s.
  • Ornaments made of translucent hard plastic, blown crystal, paper angels, and glossed pine cones were all the rage.
  • The bubbly lights that Noma launched in 1946 were very popular.