In its history, Cagayan de Oro was devastated by fierce battles in the 20th century. The American invasion in 1900 (Philippine-American War) and the Second World War changed Cagayan’s landscape. Heavy bombardment in World War II leveled the town to the ground. It destroyed the old Saint Augustine Church (built in 1845), robbing Cagayan of its last Spanish heritage.
For the past decades, the city population grew at a staggering 4% annual rate due to heavy migration. Cagayan de Oro is bursting from its seams. This population explosion has strained city government resources and services.
Cagayan de Oro still retains a provincial atmosphere. The city does not have any skyscrapers. Only a few buildings reach more than 4 story high. Not much has changed in the city's main district (Poblacion). The city center is still occupied by old commercial, residential buildings and some informal settlers (squatters).