Population :711,200 (1999)
Capital : Kingston
Major Towns: There are no major towns
Kingston is the smallest parish with an area of 21.8 square kilometres (8.4 square miles). It includes the Palisadoes strip. St Andrew is the second smallest parish with and area of 430.7 square kilometres (166.3 square miles). It enfolds Kingston except for the waterfront. It reaches up to the Blue Mountain range and apart from Kingston is bordered by St Thomas, Portland, St Mary and St Catherine. The Liguanea plains on which Kingston and a part of St Andrew is located is composed of a mixture of sands, loams, clays, and gravel. It rises from sea level to a height of 700 to 800 feet eight miles inland. The steepest incline is less than one degree. There is only one river in St. Andrew the Hope River which rises above Newcastle and flows 19.6 kilometres to the sea. It is one source of supply for the Mona Dam. The Liguanea plains have an incredible backdrop of mountains. . In the east is Long Mountain, with Dallas Mountain, a spur of the Blue Mountains, further east, parallel and higher. To the north is Jacks hill behind which looms the Port Royal Mountains. To the north-west are Stony Hill, Coopers Hill and Red Hills. The highest elevation is Catherine's Peak at 1,524 metres. Kingston has a network of gullies which drain the plain during heavy rainfall. They can be dangerous at such times.
Large deposits of gypsum are in eastern St Andrew. There are small deposits of copper, zinc, lead and manganese and iron ores.
After the 1692 earthquake and tidal wave which destroyed two-thirds of Port Royal, the survivors fled to the area closest to them. This was Colonel Barry's Hog Crawle (a place where pigs were kept) the present site of the city of Kingston. In May 1693 the Assembly declared Kingston a parish. It was not until a fire in 1703 totally destroyed Port Royal that Kingston began to grow. The town plan done on a grid, was drawn up by John Goffe, a surveyor and the town boundaries were North, East, West and Harbour Streets. By 1716 it became the largest town in the island and the centre of the island's trade.
Initially settlement was below parade. Merchants lived above their businesses and many houses had look out towers for them to see what ships were coming into port. Gradually wealthy people began to move their residences to the 'pens' in St Andrew. Pens were livestock farms. Some of these pens were cut up and sold as residential lots as the city expanded. Many of these areas were called by the name of the pen on which they were built, for example Vineyard Pen, Rollington Pen, Franklin Pen, Greenwich Pen. Later ' 'pen' was changed to 'town' with few exceptions.
At the time of the American War of Independence (1775 - 1783) Kingston had a population of 11,000, which was a little under two-thirds of the population of Boston (USA) 18,000, and about one-third of the population of Liverpool (34,000), a port in England built on the slave trade and the plantation system. .During the Napoleonic wars at the turn of that century Kingston was at its most prosperous. It was a trans-shipment port for goods from England to the Spanish colonies. Britain had the lucrative trade of supplying slaves to the Spanish colonies and they were kept in Kingston until they were sent to Latin America. In 1807 the British abolished the slave trade so this activity ceased.
In 1862 Kingston became a Corporation with a Mayor and "Common Council" with powers to make its own laws and regulations. After the Morant Bay Rebellion when Jamaica became a crown colony the powers of the council were transferred to a nominated Municipal Board but by 1885, the affairs of the city were again administered by a Mayor.
In 1872 Kingston became the official capital of the island. Kingston's merchant had been lobbying for this for over a century. Kingston itself has also suffered from a series of disasters. A fire in 1862 left a large part of the city in ruins. Again in 1882 fire destroyed 40 acres in the residential and commercial areas. An earthquake on June 4, 1907 and the fire which followed demolished the city. Second only to this earthquake was the nine hour thunderstorm in 1933 which destroyed roads, houses and swept man and animals out to sea.
In 1867 the parish of St Andrew was formed when the number of parishes in the island was reduced from 22 to 14. The area had been called Liguanea. As of May 1, 1923 the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew were to be jointly administered by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation.
Kingston was not however only commercial activity. There was a cultural life as well. Its first theatre was on Harbour Street. It was removed to north parade and the location of the present Ward Theatre has been the site of a theatre since. The first theatre built on that site in 1774 hosted touring companies from England and America. The existing building was presented as a gift to the City of Kingston in 1912 by Colonel Charles Ward, who was then the Custos of Kingston and who had it rebuilt after it was destroyed in the 1907 earthquake. The Ward Theatre is associated with the development of indigenous theatre especially the Pantomine. It has also been the location for concerts of international artists like Marion Anderson and Richard Tauber and touring companies.
like The Empire Players and Glossop Harris Company which preformed Shakespeare and popular contemporary plays.
The first free school in the island was Wolmers founded in 1736 by a bequest from John Wolmer whose memorial tablet is it the Kingston Parish Church.
Today the city of Kingston (including suburban St Andrew) is a modern metropolis with imposing buildings, an international conference centre which houses the International Seabed Authority, theatres, cinemas, a national Stadium, a National Library and the Jamaica Library Service, an island wide public network, the National Gallery, schools , colleges, two universities and two daily newspapers, several banks, several insurance companies, and several hospitals. There are, however, serious problems of a physical and social nature such as pollution of the Kingston Harbour and the Liguanea plain, crime and the spawning of ghetto areas. The government and private sector are taking steps to address this. It is still the commercial capital of the island with modern port facilities at Newport West and the Norman Manley International Airport on the Palisadoes strip.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES/SOURCES OF INCOME
Agriculture: First introduced from Martinique in 1728, Coffee was first planted at Temple Hall. Today it is Jamaica's second most valuable export crop. There is a processing plant at Clydesdale and another at Mavis Bank. Several domestic crops are produced in the hills of
St Andrew. Tourism: There are several hotels ranging from luxurious to comfortable. Efforts are currently being made to revive Kingston as a tourist centre. There are several attractions including hiking in the Blue Mountains. Kingston boasts a varied and vibrant cultural life. Other: The headquarters for the island's commercial banks, larger insurance companies, lending agencies, building societies, credit unions etc are in the Corporate Area. There is a network of commercial, professional and trade groups which support the large population. Kingston is one of the largest ports in the English speaking Caribbean.
MAJOR HISTORICAL/CULTURAL/RECREATIONAL/ECOLOGICAL SITES
The Institute of Jamaica: Founded in 1879 " for the encouragement of Literature, Science and Art" the Institute is located on East Street in Kingston. It has promoted and preserved Jamaican culture ever since. Its collection of paintings mainly be local artists formed the nucleus of the collection for the National Gallery of Jamaica when it was established. It reputedly has the finest collection of printed materials on the West Indies in the region. That collection is now part of the National Library of Jamaica. It has an extensive collection of Jamaican flora and fauna. In the early days it operated a lending library for members only. Now its services are open to the public. The Junior Centre promoted the arts among young persons.
Hope Botanical Gardens: In 1881 the government of Jamaica acquired 200 acres of land that was part of the Hope estate to establish an experimental garden. This garden contains the largest collection of botanical plants in the Caribbean. It was badly damaged by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 but is slowly being restored to its former grandeur. It is a favourite attraction for Jamaicans from all walks of life who visit and enjoy the gardens especially on weekends and public holidays. There is a small zoo.
Headquarters House: This is located at 79 Duke Street. It was built as a townhouse by
Thomas Hibbert a wealthy planter, merchant and member of the House of Assembly in the mid 18th century. The story goes that he vied with three other friends to build the most splendid house to secure the affections of a much married and notorious lady of the day. It is the only surviving house of the four. No one knows the outcome of their efforts. In 1814 the house was acquired by the military as their headquarters here. When the island's capital was moved to Kingston from Spanish Town in 1872 it was purchased from the War Office to be the seat of the Legislature. And it remained so for nearly a hundred years.
In 1960 Gordon House was built across from it on Beeston Street for that purpose. Today Headquarters House is occupied by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
Kings House: This was originally the home of the (Anglican) Lord Bishop of Jamaica. It included a 19-acre property formerly known as Somerset Pen. The government purchased the house in 1872 to be the residence of the governor as the capital of the island had been moved to Kingston. It was badly damaged in the 1907 earthquake but was rebuilt in 1909 to a new design. It is now the residence of the Governor-general and is in a 200 acres setting of park land. After extensive renovations it was reopened to the public in late 1995.
Kingston Parish Church: A tombstone dated 1699 indicated that the church was built after the 1692 earthquake when plans were drawn up for the new town of Kingston. Its organ dates from 1722. The earthquake in 1907 destroyed the church and the present structure was rebuilt in 1910.replicating the design except for the tower .It contains sculpture by John Bacon the leading sculptor of his time. The tomb of Admiral Benbow is on the floor below the altar and a tablet to John Wolmer among other interesting inscriptions. The tablets and tomb stones make interesting reading.
The National Stadium: This stadium was completed in 1962 to mark Jamaica's Independence. The first event held there was the ceremony where the Union Jack was lowered and the Jamaican Flag raised at midnight on August 6, 1962. It was the venue for the Ninth Central American and Caribbean Games in 1962 and the Eight Commonwealth Games in 1966. An arena was built in 1966 for indoor games and other forms of entertainment. The stadium is the main venue for sporting events including international football games, sporting competitions, athletic meets etc. It has just been refurbished. At the entrance is a statue which looks like the late Dr Arthur Wint but is said to be a composite of the four athletes who gave Jamaica its first gold medal in the relay race in the Olympics Games in Helsinki in 1952. It was sculpted by the late Alvin Marriott, one of Jamaica's foremost sculptors, then cast in aluminum as Jamaica produces the ore from which this metal is made.
National Heroes Park: This used to be called Race Course as it was the horse racing track for Kingston. When the races were moved to Knutsford Park (now New Kingston) the area was called George VI Memorial park. The name was again changed after Independence to National Heroes Park. National Heroes and Prime ministers are buried there. The burial sites of Sir Alexander Bustamante, Norman Washington Manley and Marcus Mosiah Garvey (whose body was brought back from England) are there as well as Michael Manley a former Prime Minister. A cenotaph which was on Churst Street has been put there to commemorate those who died in the two world wars. The 1865 Memorial was erected to commemorate the Morant Bay Rebellion and Paul Bogle and George William Gordon who lost their live then and have been made National Heroes. There is also a bust of the Cuban Patriot General Antonio Maceo which was given by the people of Cuba to the government and people of Jamaica who had offered him asylum here.
Vale Royal: This is the Prime Minister's official residence. The house was built in 1694 by
Sir William Taylor considered one of the wealthiest men in Jamaica at that time. It was then known as Prospect Pen. The government bought it in 1928 and it became the official residence of the Colonial Secretary whose post was next to that of governor. It is probably the only house in the Corporate Area that still has a lookout tower. This was a common feature of the houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries so that merchants could check on the movement of ships in Kingston harbour with their binoculars.
The University of the West Indies: This began in 1948 with 33 medical students as the University College of the West Indies affiliated to London University. It became an independent institution in 1962, granting its own degrees.
The University now has three campuses at Mona in Jamaica, the original campus, Cave hill in Barbados and St Augustine in Trinidad. University Centres are in other affiliated territories.
The Mona campus was built on part of what was once Hope Estate. Ruins of the aqueduct and sugar works can still be seen on the campus. The area was used as a concentration camp for Germans during the Second World War. It offers undergraduate and post graduate degrees in arts and general studies, social sciences, law, education, natural sciences, engineering, agriculture and medicine. The campus is in a physically beautiful setting.
Of special interest is the chapel located near the main entrance which was formerly an old sugar warehouse at Gales Valley Estate in Trelawny. It was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt as the chapel. It was presented to the university by the owner of Hampden Estate. In the ceiling are crests of the various territories which support the university.
Also of special interest is the metal bird, the mythical Carib war bird, the Savacou opposite the Social Sciences building on the Ring Road. It was executed by Ronald Moody, a noted Jamaican sculptor.
Today the enrolment for the Mona campus is between ten and eleven thousand students.
The Ward Theatre: The present structure dates from 1912 when the theatre was presented as a gift to the city by the Custos of Kingston, Colonel Ward. It is the fourth building on that site. In the 18th and 19th centuries the theatre hosted many fine visiting theatre companies. This continues into the 20th century when the Ward Theatre hosted some of the world's best artists; - singers like Marion Anderson, Richard Tauber, Miliza Korjus, Nino Martini, Willard White: violinists like Jascha Heifetz and Yehudi Menuhin; pianists like Alexander Brailovsky,Arthur Rubenstein, and Claudio Arrau and companies like the Empire Players and Glossop Harris Company, both of which performed Shakespeare's plays as well as contemporary works. These are but a few of those who performed there. The local scene was as vibrant and out of that emerged what is today referred to as Jamaican theatre, covering a range of tastes.
The Ward has also served other purposes. It has been the venue for making presentations to royalty and other persons of note on behalf of the people of Jamaica. It was also used in the 1920s an '30s when the Chief Medical Officer would lecture primary school children on matters regarding health on a regular basis. The Ward Theatre Foundation brings international artists every year for its Season of Excellence but the social unrest is impacting on this and other performances held there. It remains a beautiful building loved by all in the theatre community.