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Silver was never shipped from Banderas Bay, this is an old fabrication to make the history more interesting. The village itself, however, was founded by Don Guadalupe Sanchez Torres in 1851, who named it “Puerto Las Penas”. He brought in sea salt to the silver mines for ore processing, until, in the early 1900s, with the Mexican Revolution, the diminishing amount of ore and the discovery of silver in the United States brought down the price of silver, and mining became a less profitable enterprise. The settlement was elevated to municipality status in 1918 and renamed after former governor Ignacio Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta started to become a more popular tourist destination in the 1930s and after WW2 several veterans moved to the more peaceful confines of Puerto Vallarta. Most built houses overlooking the town and river and the area became known as "Gringo Gulch". However, it was in 1964 that Puerto Vallarta, then a quiet fishing village, became famous, with the release of John Huston’s movie version of Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana. The movie showcased the beauty of Mismaloya Beach while the paparazzi publicized the adulterous affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. This publicity helped to attract foreign investors in the 1970s, which brought about the massive expansion of Puerto Vallarta. After this (along with the increased accessibility by airplane and the construction of first-class hotels), agriculture and fishing took second place to tourism, which remains the main industry of the area today.