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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the World Heritage List nomination file for the historic fortifications of San Juan and the National Park Service handbook, The Forts of Old San Juan. It was written by Rosanna Weltzin and other members of the staff of San Juan National Historic Site. The lesson was edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in history, social studies, and geography courses in units on colonization or European settlement and trading patterns in the Western Hemisphere. The Forts of Old San Juan will help students understand the role of Puerto Rico's fortifications in the Spanish quest to expand and defend its empire in the New World from the 16th through the 19th century.
Time period: 1500s-1800s
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Objectives for students
1) To explain the strategic importance of Puerto Rico as part of Spain's plan to defend its empire in the Caribbean.
2) To understand the evolution of the Spanish strongholds, in particular San Juan's development from a primitive post to a "plaza fuerte" or stronghold.
3) To examine how the 1898 Treaty of Paris affected Puerto Rico.
4) To learn how historic structures provide a link between the "old" and the "new."
5) To investigate a historic site in their community.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) two maps of San Juan Island and Spanish forts in the Caribbean;
2) three readings on the history of Puerto Rico and the evolution of its defensive system;
3) a drawing and photo of El Morro;
4) a drawing and photo of San Cristóbal.

Visiting the site
The forts of San Juan, administered by the National Park Service, are located along Norzagaray Street in Old San Juan. They are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except for Christmas Day. For more information, contact the Superintendent, Fort San Cristóbal, Norzagaray Street, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901-2094, or visit the park's Web site.



Comments or Questions

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