Álamos Population

55… Talking population: past, present and future…

Independence day celebration in Plaza, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Álamos school kids attend Independence Day celebration in the Plaza.

When I think of Álamos I think of its history and my first question is how many Indians
were in the area when Diego de Guzman, nephew of Spanish explorer Cortes, passed
through the region in 1533 on well traveled native trails. Mexico’s Indian population was
estimated to be as high as 25 million in 1519, most living in the great valley of Mexico.
By 1523 the considered Indian population had been reduced to 16.8 million and further cut
to 6.3 million by 1548. The Indian population continued to decline in 1580 with a thought
of 1.9 million and one million in 1605. If these numbers are any way close to what
actually happened they speak of apocalyptic times for Mexico’s Indians.

Kissing Alley, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

People from many nations have walked, for centuries, on these cobblestones.

The population of Álamos through the years is sketchy at best. The first information
I could find was for 1760 when Álamos had an estimated 800 families and a population
of 3,400 with 5 – 6 priests. At this time the world’s population was 846 million.
6,000 are estimated to have died from the plague in 1770.1780 Álamos reaches its
largest population, 15,000 to 30,000. Can you imagine what the lifestyles of both rich
and poor were in this protected valley at that time?

Funeral procession, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The stories of population are the stories of birth, migration and death.

Alamos populations fluctuated during the 19th Century as mining and political interests
rising rose and fell, came and left.1800, Álamos estimated population was 9,000.
1803, there are some 7,900 folks here. The world’s population reached one billion
by 1804.1825, Álamos population is an estimated 5,000 to 7,000. 1837, an
interestingly specific figure of 2,872 people is noted 1849, 4,300 inhabitants
call Alamos home. At this time many miners have, or are, leaving for
the California gold fields. 1850 – 1880, the population apparently remains
a steady 5,000. The first official Mexican census was accomplished in 1895.

Night time in the Plaza, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Through feast and famine there has been a Sunday promenade in the Plaza.

Here is an outline of the population in 1908: 10,000 for the region. This figure is
then broken down to 3,000 in Álamos, 1,000 in Aduana, 1,000 in Navajoa, 1,000
in Promontories, 1,000 in Minas Nuevas and 1,000 in Camoa. The world’s
population reaches two billion in 1927. The population estimate for the region in 1940,
official census count, was 21,477: 11,543 men and 9,835 women. I found another
from another source that the population of the city at this time may have been 5,369
hombres and 4,848 mujeres over the age of six. The world’s population reaches three
billion in 1960, four billion in 1974, and five billion in 1987.

The census for 1990 has Álamos with 6.132 inhabitants and a total of 13,000
for the municipality. The world’s population reaches six billion in
1999 and is forecasted to reach seven billion in 2011. Today, Álamos
population estimates are 13,000 for the city and 30,000 in the municipality.

And here is a thought for the future, the largest migration across the
USA – Mexico border may not be south to north, as it has been in the past,
but retired baby boomers heading south during the coming decades. Planet Earth
is always in motion, always changing.

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An introduction to a Short History of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico.
“Here is something Special”, Spanish explorer Vasquez de Coronado noted in
1540 as he headed north, passing by tall white rocks on Alamos de Sierra.
This is the opening chapter to “A Short History of Álamos” written,
filmed and edited by Anders Tomlinson. Narrated by Bruce Miles.
Soundtrack by SonicAtomics and Estudiantina de Álamos.

Alamos shares a strong maternal bond, steeped in history, with all the Southwest.
Juan Batista de Anza arrived and departed from Álamos in the spring of
1775 with silver, and local families, to settle “Monterey and the
Californias”, including San francisco. Another expedition, five years
later, left Álamos to settle Los Angeles.

The conclusion to a Short History of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico embraces the Sierra Madre.
Here, Bishop Reyes’ Cathedral in the Plaza, a three-tiered belfry, shines
gold in morning light. Here, looking east, one’s imagination is stirred
by the forbidding beauty of the Sierra Madre Occidentals. Together, they
shape the Álamos experience.

©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.

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