The Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago on February 12, 1541 with the name Santiago del Nuevo Extremo, as homage to Saint James and Extremadura, Valdivia’s birthplace in Spain. The city was built following the traditional Hispanic grid patterns that were used in American colonies. The council of Santiago became the administrative center of all of Chile. On September 11, 1541 the city was completely destroyed during a conflict between indigenous forces and the Conquistadors. However, the colonization was soon on its feet again, when the Spanish King acknowledged the process and bestowed upon Santiago the title of city along with its own coat of arms on April 5, 1552. With the Disaster of Curalaba in 1599, several settlers from the south of Chile took refuge in Santiago and this eventually led to the exponential population growth in the area.
Despite set backs in the colonizing of the area, in 1767; Luis Manuel de Zañartu began an heroic project of architectural expansion. Aided by the governor's approval, more and more construction began on major infrastructure of the city, including a central roadway to Valparaiso (an important Chilean seaport). Consequently, the city was properly developed by the time Chilean armies conquered the Spanish Royalist and won independence from Spain in 1817. The following years of the Republican era ushered in a period during which schools were founded, cultural centers developed, and landscaped gardens were opened. In late the 1800's, Santiago expanded its roadway and transportation systems, which helped to establish the city as a metropolitan center for Chile.
In 1880s the extraction of nitrate fertilizer in Northern Chile brought prosperity to the country in addition to promoting the capital city’s development. By the 1940's, population had surpassed 1 million. In response to population needs, the development of high-rise apartment buildings and the construction of an extensive metro system, which began in the 1960's, have helped to transform Santiago into the modern city we know today.