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|The City of Kingston
Excerpted from the book, Tour Jamaica, by Margaret Morris
Very much the Island's capital, the city of Kingston dominates Jamaica politically, commercially and culturally. Its estimated 700,000 inhabitants represent almost a third of the entire population. Relentless expansion
has long since outstripped the government capacity to supply employment,
housing or adequate public utilities and still it grows: a noisy, sprawling,
polluted and vigorous metropolis. From steamy plain to balmy hills, from
gospel tent to cathedral, hovel to high-rise it is, like all cities, a place
of stark contrasts: goats browse along the concrete pavements, pushcarts
jostle crissers (late model cars) along the traffic choked streets and sidewalk
vendors sprout beside ostentatious shopping plazas.
Repeatedly devastated by fire, flood, earthquake and hurricane, not to
mention real estate developers and urban planners, Kingston is a city with
very little visible history but its long and colourful past has been well
documented. It began in 1692 as a refuge for the survivors of the earthquake
that devastated Port Royal, killing 2,000 persons and plunging two thirds
of the city beneath the sea. The initial refugee camp was on the seafront
at a place shown on the map as colonel Barry's hog craw. Barry's. Within
7 weeks of the earthquake the government had purchased 200 acres from an
absentee proprietor, Sir William Beeston, and was casting lots for the sale
of building sites. Among the first regulations of the settlement was a ruling
that each man could purchase only one lot on the seafront and no more land
than he had owned in Port Royal. In addition there was an order prohibiting
exorbitant ferry charges between the sunken city and the mainland.
Sir William Beeston returned to the island soon afterwards as governor and fortuitously discovered that the sale of this land to the government had not been legal, so the lots had to be purchased individually from him. He also acquired by dubious means the shoal water fronting Harbour Street thus greatly increasing the value of his holding there. When the governor's wheeling and dealing came to light there was a public outcry, and Kingston was born amidst a government scandal, the first many through the years.
In the beginning the refugees, crowded into tents on Colonel Barry's hog Crawle, were tormented by mosquitoes and fevers and more than 2,000 died. The survivors hankered to return to Port Royal so for a long time no substantial buildings were erected, only huts built with boughs, but by the end of the eighteenth century there were more than 3,000 fine brick houses in the city.
Kingston's excellent natural harbour fostered trade and the naval wars
of the eighteenth century brought traffic and prosperity. The carousing
for which Port Royal had been notorious continued here amongst a population
noted for their excessive eating and drinking. Most of the duty collected
was paid on Madeira wine, while the slaves and poorer classes made do with
a rum concoction called kill-devil .
Kingston continued to grow despite calamities: a devastating hurricane in 1784, a huge fire in 1843, a cholera epidemic in 1850 and another fire in 1862. In 1872 the capital was once again transferred to Kingston and this time it remained.
In 1907 an earthquake destroyed most of the city and killed 800 people.
A visiting circus was encamped on the Racecourse and many of the survivors
found temporary shelter under the big top . This earthquake accounts for
the lack of historic buildings and for Jamaica's strict building code. After
the quake an ordinance prohibited the erection of buildings higher than
60 feet. The first to exceed this height were the three storey public buildings
on King Street. Constructed of reinforced concrete, they were considered
at the time the last word in progressive architecture.
Originally the city had been laid out in a compact square enclosed by North Street, West Street, East Street and the sea. Over the years it absorbed the peripheral villages and pens spreading across the Liguanea plain and into the foothills of the Blue Mountains, in the process consuming some of the best agricultural land in the island.
In 1923 the local government bodies of the parishes of Kingston and adjacent St Andrew were amalgamated to form the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation. Kingston has always had a history of energetic municipal elections. Here began the tradition of burying unsuccessful political candidates in a mock funeral procession complete with coffin and joyful mourners. The custom continues but the tempo and temperature of national elections have escalated considerably. Unfortunately political rallies can no longer be neutralized by the simple ploy of singing the national anthem just as the main speaker is due to appear.
Kingston's schizophrenia began quite recently. In the old days true Kingstonians boasted of being born beneath the clock of Kingston Parish Church. Today the well-to-do live uptown while the poorer classes live below the bridge (Torrington Bridge) in politically polarized ghettoes nicknamed Southside, Rema, Jungle and Lizard Town where it is never safe to stray too far away from home. But it is here that the creativity of the Jamaican peaks:
Kingston ghettoes produced Reggae, Bob Marley and the current musical phenomenon of Dancehall.
During the 1960s the city expanded north and the once famous Knutsford
Racetrack became New Kingston. With the development of New Kingston and
a string of uptown shopping plazas the former commercial and shopping centres
of King Street and Harbour Street became neglected and shabby. As an antidote
to decay the government created the Kingston Waterfront Redevelopment Company
to reclaim, redesign and upgrade 95 acres along the waterfront. The project
produced a nucleus of wide landscaped boulevards and multi-storey buildings
which include the Bank of Jamaica, Scotia Bank Centre, the Jamaica Conference
Centre, and Kingston Mall. Casualties of the redevelopment process were
the once famous Myrtle Bank Hotel, the picturesque finger piers jutting
out from Port Royal Street, and historic Victoria Market, scene of traditional
Sunday and Christmas markets for over a hundred years.
In the 1980s another redevelopment program was undertaken by governments Urban Development Company. The massive project, assisted by a loan from the Inter American Development Bank comprised traffic rationalization and elopment of the market area south and west of the Parade, refurbishing the four main markets (Jubilee, Queens, Redemption Ground and Coronation) and building 6 additional markets. You will have already discovered that Jamaica is a nation of shopkeepers, vendors and higglers . It is estimated that at peak periods close to 15,000 vendors use this area and as much as J$25 million may change hands over a weekend. Because so many vendors and shoppers come in from the rural and suburban areas, the transport centre is a key component of the redevelopment plan.
The Kingston Restoration Company, created in the mid-1980s with U.S.. $6.8 million seed money from USAID, is an attempt to cure downtowns inner city . To spark conservation of the decaying downtown areas, KRC distributes grants towards the restoration of strategic buildings; to create employment it acquires and renovates derelict buildings and then leases them out for light industry. To defuse the time-bomb of poverty it sponsors social programs.
Kingston commands the seventh largest natural harbour in the world and
sits athwart major shipping lanes: import, export and transhipment are big
business here. The Port Authority of Jamaica administers extensive and modern
shipping facilities at Port Bustamante which include 11 lateral berths built
by two private companies Western Terminals Ltd. and Kingston Wharves Ltd.
The port area is a hive of activity and all too frequently the source of
hair-raising reports alleging intrigue, corruption and smuggling. Kingston
harbour is now so severely polluted by sewage, industrial effluent and oil
spills that it has been called the cess-pit of the Caribbean. To date no
serious attempt has been made to rehabilitate the marine environment although
the problem was designated critical some twenty years ago by UWI scientists.
Adjacent to the port, the Kingston Free-Zone offers tax havens and excise exemption for export businesses and employs a large workforce mostly in garment factories. There are three other Free-Zone areas in the island, one of them close by on Marcus Garvey Drive.
Behind the port, the industrial section is home of some long established
and prestigious firms like J. Wray & Nephew, distillers of Appleton
rum, Desnoes and Geddes, brewers of Red Stripe beer, and Estate Industries,
makers of Tia Maria Coffee Liqueur.
PLACES OF INTEREST DOWNTOWN
PARADE at the top of King Street was subjected
to a major facelift in the late 1980s with the addition of paved walkways,
a fountain, baptismal pool and elaborate lights. Aesthetes bemoaned the
preponderance of steel and concrete and conservationists decried the destruction
of most of the original trees including some rare species. In the days when
it was a parade ground for the British Military it was also used for public
floggings and hangings. Among those who met their fate here were the freed
slave Pio who was paid to assassinate Simon Bolivar but mistakenly killed
his friend instead, and two leaders of a St Mary slave revolt who were hung
up in iron frames and left to starve to death. The park in the centre, formerly
called Victoria Park was renamed St. William Grant Park after an early labour
leader, a forerunner and then colleague of Alexander Bustamante. Always
a public forum, Parade has witnessed innumerable crowds, meetings, and political
speeches. Here in quaint juxtaposition are statues of a diverse trio: Norman
Manley, Bustamante, and Queen Victoria.
North of Parade, the WARD THEATRE was built after the 1907 earthquake on the site of the municipal Theatre Royal. It was a gift to the city from Col. Charles Ward, Custos and rum magnate. Recently refurbished it has excellent acoustics. It is the venue for the annual LTM pantomime. The pre-Christmas Ward Season of Excellence presents internationally acclaimed companies and artistes.
BRAMWELL BOOTH head-quarters of the Salvation Army was built in 1933 an austere structure true to the claim that The Army never spends money on building unless it is absolutely necessary . The Salvation Army has many branches throughout the island and an impressive record of work amongst the underprivileged.
KINGSTON PARISH CHURCH south of Parade was destroyed by the 1907 earthquake and rebuilt. Among its treasures is a memorial by the famous sculptor John Bacon to the gallant Admiral Benbow who died in Port Royal of wounds received in a naval battle. (Deserted by two of his captains and with his leg mutilated by chain shot he continued to fight and chase the French fleet). The clock tower was erected as a memorial to those killed in the First World War. The bell dates from 1715.
COKE CHAPEL east of Parade was the cradle of Methodism in Jamaica. It replaced a smaller church known as Parade Chapel which was founded in 1789 by Rev Thomas Coke, a pioneer missionary. Like other adversaries of slavery, the early Methodists were persecuted by the establishment but in 1841 the House of Assembly contributed towards the erection of Coke Chapel.
THE PEARNELL CHARLES ARCADE. Scratch a Jamaican and you will find a higgler. This local name for a sidewalk or market vendor derives from the archaic verb to higgle to dispute terms or haggle a necessary first step when making a purchase here. Higglers, selling anything from fruits and cigarettes to imported Italian shoes are ubiquitous. Their preferred location is the sidewalk and once crowded the pavements of King Street so thickly that they impeded entrance to the stores. This was solved in the mid 1980s by building a market with tiny cage-like stalls and ordering the street vendors to re-locate. They went reluctantly. Located between Queen and South streets, the building was christened Pearnell Charles Arcade after the then Minister of Local Government who is also an honorary Chieftain of Nigeria.
SOLAS MARKET (officially called Jubilee) spills into the streets just west of the Parade. Bustling and vibrant it inspired the Jamaican folk song Come we go down a Solas Market, Come we go buy banana .
The CRAFTS MARKET on the waterfront west of Victoria Pier offers a wide selection of straw goods and souvenirs.
The state-of-the-art facilities at TUFF GONG RECORDING STUDIO at 220 Marcus Garvey Drive, part of the Bob Marley Empire, are used by established and aspiring stars.
The seafront along OCEAN BOULEVARD with a
bracing sea breeze and grassy esplanade is an interesting place to watch
the world go by and sample a roots snack, but beware of pickpockets and
other assorted hustlers. At the foot of King Street an imposing statue dedicated
to the working people of Jamaica and called Negro Aroused is the work of
the late Mrs. Edna Manley, wife of National Hero the Rt. Excellent Norman
Manley and mother of former Prime Minister Michael Manley. The Port Royal
Ferry leaves from here.
At the NATIONAL GALLERY in the Kingston Mall the permanent collection includes works of Edna Manley, John DunkleyAlbert Huie, Kapo, Anna Henriques and other noted Jamaican artists. The annual National Exhibition mounted every December continues through the spring. In the foyer is a statue of Bob Marley by Jamaican sculptor Christopher Gonzalez. Intended for public display in a proposed Celebrity park, the symbolic concept of Bob so enraged his rootsy fans that it had to be hurriedly removed to its present sanctuary. The replacement by Alvin Marriott a lifelike facsimile of Bob plus guitar looms on
Arthur Wint park opposite the National Stadium. This was not the first
time that Gonzalez proved too unsettling for the average person: a Christ
figure commissioned for a Catholic church was rejected because his manhood
was too clearly visible under the loincloth. The Christ found a home with
collector A.D. Scott at the Olympia Gallery on Hope Road.
The mini COIN MUSEUM at the Bank of Jamaica building on Ocean Boulevard has an interesting display of money through the ages and the only gold Arawak artifact so far discovered in Jamaica a Zemi discovered and donated by Archaeologist Dr. James Lee.
In front of the Bank of Jamaica towers a monolithic likeness of a former Minister of Finance, the late N.N. Crab Nethersole who got the nickname from his curious sidling gait. This statue also caused a furor when it was erected because the original likeness, distorted by the scale, produced a caricature of a well-liked man.
THE JAMAICA CONFERENCE CENTRE on Ocean Boulevard
was opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth in 1983. The fact that Jamaica had been
named as the headquarters of the Seabed Authority of the International Law
of the Sea may have had something to do with the lavish scale on which it
was developed: five fully equipped conference rooms with adjacent caucus
rooms, spacious lounges, a restaurant and office wing. It is impressive
The headquarters of the INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA on East Street offers permanent and visiting exhibitions, libraries and reading rooms and a lecture hall. The scope of the West Indian Reference Library makes it one of the most important collections of English Language West Indiana in the world. Much of the material is microfilmed and it is possible to peruse Jamaican newspapers dating back to the eighteenth century. The IOJ also publishes a quarterly review with fascinating articles on Jamaican culture and history, although financial constraints make its publication a little less frequently than quarterly, but nonetheless it is well worth picking up a copy if you come across it.
DUKE STREET, still the most fashionable address for legal firms, boasts some sumptuous modern office blocks and several interesting places.
ST. ANDREW SCOTS KIRK, an arresting octagonal
building, was founded in 1813 by a group of Scottish merchants; it took
6 years and 12,000 pounds sterling to complete and an early critic sniffed
that it was built principally with Episcopalians money and half filled on
Sundays . It survived the 1907 earthquake and an attempt in the 1950s to
sell and relocate uptown. In 1965 the Presbyterian and Congregational churches
merged to form the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Scots Kirk
has always been noted for excellent music and its choir, the St. Andrew
Both houses of parliament meet at GORDON HOUSE named for National Hero George William Gordon. The layout and ceremonial is similar to the British parliament. The House of Representatives has 60 members. Each session is opened by the entrance of the Marshal bearing the traditional symbol of authority, the Mace. The Speaker, in gown and wig, presides. The Senate meets in the same chamber at a different time. It is composed of 21 members appointed by the government and 8 by the opposition. The numbers are significant, because any amendment of the Constitution must be approved by two thirds of the senate and therefore requires a measure of consensus.
HEADQUARTERS HOUSE is now the headquarters
of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, an entity that struggles
on an inadequate budget to preserve some of the islands historical assets.
The house was built in 1755 on a wager. Thomas Hibbert and three cronies
agreed to see who could build the finest house and thus impress a certain
beautiful lady. History does not relate who won the bet, or the lady. Thomas
Hibbert never married and his wish to be buried in the garden here with
the least expense consistent with decency was not granted as he died and
was buried at his country estate Agualta Vale in St Mary. An interesting
feature of Hibbert House as it was originally called, is the crows nest
on the roof from which Mr. Hibbert could scan the harbour for his ships
or signal friends in other parts of town. The house was purchased by the
government and used first as a military headquarters and residence of the
Commanding Officer and then as a meeting place of the House of Assembly.
It was here that George William Gordon confronted those who accused him
of fomenting the Morant Bay Rebellion. Two days later he was arrested, taken
by warship to Morant Bay, tried by a kangaroo court and hanged alongside
Gordon, a former member of the House of Assembly was a prominent coloured businessman, a lay preacher and fearless champion of the poor, and a National Hero of modern Jamaica.
The imposing JEWISH SYNAGOGUE of the United Congregation of Israelites on Duke St was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1907 destroyed the temple serving the merged congregation of Sephardic and Ashkenazi groups. The contribution of the Jewish community to the development of the island has been significant and starts with Columbus, whose family were Marronites (Jews converted to Christianity). Politically, the Jews were excluded from voting until 1833 but 17 years later 25% of the members of the House of Assembly were Jewish and they have continued as a force in commerce and politics to this day.
NORTH STREET is the home of THE
GLEANER CO. LTD publishers of the islands leading daily newspaper
The Daily Gleaner, also the Sunday Gleaner, Overseas Gleaner, the evening
tabloid the STAR, the Tourist Guide and Childrens Own. The Gleaner was founded
in 1834 by two brothers, Jacob and Joshua DeCordova, and started life as
DeCordova's Advertiser. Operations at the plant are now fully computerized.
Tours are available on request. The Gleaner, having survived for over 160
years, is considered a Jamaican institution. To date, competing dailies
have all folded after a few years. The most recent casualty, the Jamaica
Record, was succeeded in 1992 by the Jamaica Herald. The daily tabloid Observer
is the latest addition to the press.
Beside the Gleaner at 3 North St. is the headquarters of THE MISSIONARY BROTHERS OF THE POOR, a Catholic Religious order founded 13 years ago by Father Richard Ho Lung, once known as the Reggae Priest and now better known as the Ghetto Priest. The Brothers also founded Faith Centre on Laws St., Jacob's Well on Hanover St., Good Shepherd on Tower St. and The Lord's House on High Holborn St where they care for the sick and destitute in a family atmosphere. They also run two missions in India and one in the Phillipines. A Branch of Mother Theresa's Sisters of Charity is on Gold St.
The mosque-like Roman Catholic HOLY TRINITY CATHEDRAL on North St. and South Camp Road replaced the Holy Trinity Church destroyed by the 1907 earthquake. There is a letter extant signed by prominent merchants urgently requesting the Bishop to reconsider the North Street site because it was too far out in the country . The Cathedral, built in massive Spanish Moorish style with dome and four minarets was consecrated in 1911. Pope John Paul said mass here in April 1993. Prelate of the Cathedral is Archbishop Edgerton Clarke The Cathedral is reputed to have the finest pipe organ in the Caribbean. Beside it is ST GEORGE S COLLEGE for boys, originally founded by the Jesuits in 1850 and established on this site in 1913.
Kingston College on the other side of North Street is a high school for boys founded by the late Percival Gibson, the first Black Jamaican to become Bishop of the local Anglican church.
NATIONAL HEROES PARK, originally a municipal
racetrack and then the George VI Memorial Park, is still known as Racecourse.
The largest remaining greenspace it frequently accommodates football and
cricket matches. National Heroes Norman Manley, Alexander Bustamante and
Marcus Garvey are buried here beside neo-abstract concrete monuments. There
are also a memorial to Paul Bogle and a bust of General Antoneo Maceo, the
hero of Cuba's independence struggle. At the junction of South and East
Racecourse is a statue of the South American liberator Simon Bolivar who
spent months of exile here during which he wrote the famous Jamaica Letter
and survived an assassination attempt. The Ministries of Education and Finance
flank the park and a mango tree covered in closely written scrolls of cardboard
is the home of an eccentric street person called Wesley Salmon. From this
vantage point he has been awaiting the Second Coming for over 15 years.
A pavement on the lower west of the park is usually occupied by vendors
specializing in boiled crabs and roast corn.
WOLMERS SCHOOL, with separate establishments
for boys and girls of Marescaux Road, was founded in 1729 by a bequest from
a benevolent goldsmith John Wolmer. At first, coloured and Jewish children
were excluded but the ban was lifted long ago. An early advertisement for
students noted that Wolmer's graduates were expected to fill with dignity
and reputation the eminent and important professions in society . Past students
Sir Florizel Glasspole (Former Governor General), Edward Seaga (Leader of
the Opposition and former Prime Mnister) and the Hon. Hector Wynter (former
editor of the Gleaner) are among many who fulfilled these expectations.
MICO TRAINING COLLEGE, next on Marescaux Road, is the largest teacher training institution in the Caribbean and one of the oldest in the world. In 1670 a young Englishman chose to forego a 1,000 pound sterling dowry rather than marry any of Lady Mico's nieces. The bequest was therefore invested for charitable purposes. Used initially for ransoming Christian captives from Barbary pirates it was later used to establish teacher training colleges throughout the West Indies. Of these Mico, built in 1834 in Kingston, is the sole survivor.
CROSS ROADS is where uptown begins and traffic jams, shoppers and pedestrians swirl around the clock tower. There is a post office, a market, and the once famous CARIB cinema, which recently burnt down. Now there are plans to build a six screen cinema to replace it.
UP PARK CAMP headquarters of the British military force since the eighteenth century is now the home of the Jamaica Defence Force. Established when the island became independent in 1962 the J.D.F. replaced the West India Regiment. There are two battalions of regular soldiers and a National Reserve. There are also a Support and Service battalion, the Airwing and the Coast Guard. All J.D.F. officers receive training overseas, many at the British military academy Sandhurst. Up Park Camp stretches over 200 acres with living quarters, parade grounds, an airfield, administrative offices, two military cemeteries, the Garrison Church, and an interesting small Military Museum displaying weapons, medals, and uniforms. The excellent Jamaica Military Band performs at state occasions and is much in demand for private functions. The current Chief of Staff of the J.D.F. is Rear Admiral Peter Brady of the Coast Guard.
One noted ex-J.D.F officer was Col Trevor MacMillan recently a tough and crusading ex-Commissioner of Police. Another is ex-Airwing Lt Tal Stokes, executive of Helitours Ltd and helmsman of Jamaica's Bobsled team. At the 1988 Winter Olympics, the advent of a bobsled team from Jamaica caused a mild sensation, though they crashed on the final run. Their story inspired the hit film Cool Runnings and Jamaica has continued its Winter Olympic sliding .
The notorious GUN COURT and South Camp Rehabilitation Centre are situated by Up Park Camp. Created by the Manley government in 1972 in an effort to reduce gun crime, the gun court was conspicuously sited, on the theory that dramatizing harsh punishment would act as a deterrent to potential criminals. The Gun Court Act mandating indefinite detention for anyone convicted of possession of an unlicensed gun was amended but the court remains.
ST. ANDREW PARISH LIBRARY on tree-lined Tom
Redcam Avenue has an adult and a children's library, a reference department,
reading rooms and space for exhibitions. This is also the headquarters of
the Jamaica Library Service, an extensive network covering the whole island
and comprising Parish Libraries, Branch Libraries, Book Centres and Bookmobiles.
The Library Service was established in 1948, a joint effort of the British
Council and the government. It is now funded entirely by the government
and administered by a board appointed by the Minister of Education.
Beside it THE LITTLE THEATRE was built during the 1960s. The Little Theatre Movement founded by the late Greta Fowler was financed by the proceeds of the LTM's annual pantomime and by donations from business firms and Friends of the Little Theatre . A sliding scale of rental fees allows for concessionary rates for schools and community groups because the objective of the LTM is to reinvest all earnings in the development of Jamaican theatre.
The rehearsal room is in constant use, mostly by school-groups. In 1968 the LTM founded the island's first drama school which was later transferred to the Cultural Training Centre (see below). The Little Theatre was the cradle of the internationally acclaimed Jamaican Folk Singers and the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica. Annual events here include the NDTC's Season of Dance, and a musical presentation by Father Ho Lung and Friends.
THE CULTURAL TRAINING CENTRE on Arthur Wint Drive comprises Schools of Art, Drama, Dance and Music, all administered by the Institute of Jamaica.
The NATIONAL STADIUM on Arthur Wint Drive was completed in time for the Jamaica Independence celebrations in 1962 and the first event held here was the 9th Central American Games. The stadium can accommodate 40,000 spectators and has facilities for all major field and track sports. Peripheral facilities include changing rooms, offices, broadcasting booths and restaurants. Attached are an aquatic centre, tennis courts, cricket pitch and grandstand. The adjacent NATIONAL ARENA is used for trade shows, cultural exhibitions, political party conferences, religious crusades, and beauty contests. Pope John Paul officiated at a mass here on his visit in April 1993.
The Liguanea Club, a private members club and relic of the colonial days with tennis and squash courts, a restaurant of repute and accommodation, is open only to members and their guests but temporary memberships can be arranged. Liguanea, having sold its golf course now administers the 18 hole Caymanas Golf Club about 10 miles out of town.
Plans for a multi-million, multi-storey office cum cultural centre on
New Kingston's last remaining green space beside Liguanea are currently
the subject of much controversy.
The NEW KINGSTON SHOPPING CENTRE off Dominica Drive is a circular mall of manageable size. The blue and silver ISLAND LIFE MALL on St. Lucia Avenue has shops, boutiques and the CHELSEA ART GALLERY.
New Kingston restaurants include, at one end of the scale, Red Bones (pricey but worth it) and at the other The Hot Pot (Jamaican Cuisine at reasonable rates).
Entertainment: THE BARN, a small theatre off Oxford Road is the place to see indigenous plays like those of Trevor (Smile Orange) Rhone and Ginger (Higglers) Knight.
GODFATHERS and MIRAGE
are trendy discos.
PLACES OF INTEREST UPTOWN
This is the residence of the Prime Minister. Formerly the residence of the British Colonial Secretary it was built in the eighteenth century by one of the richest planters in the West Indies, Simon Taylor.
ALONG HOPE ROAD
Eating/Drinking/Shopping/Relaxation options at Devon house include: The Grogge Shop and The Devonshire restaurant in the former stables and carriage house. Both open on to a courtyard shaded by a giant Mango Tree. This is the place to go on Friday nights.
The I-Scream kiosk in the front garden serves a delicious variety of local ice-cream flavours: soursop, coconut, guava, rum-and-raisin. The Coffee Terrace on the back veranda has Blue Mountain coffee, sandwiches and pastries. Shops flanking the courtyard below offer everything Jamaican from ice-cream and home-made bread through craft and antique reproductions. Cut flowers and plants are sold in a booth beside the parking lot.
North of Devon House is JAMAICA HOUSE, built in the 1960s as the residence of the Prime Mnister, but now used solely as his office. An unexpected adjunct is the Jamaica House Basic School founded by a former Prime Minister's wife, Mrs Beverley Anderson Manley (now a popular radio personality of The Breakfast Club).
KINGS HOUSE is the official residence of
the Governor General, Sir Howard Cooke and Lady Cooke. It was built as the
residence of the Lord Bishop of Jamaica, then bought from the Church in
1871 for 6,000 pounds sterling to be used as the residence of the Governor.
VIP's entertained here have included Prince Albert and Prince George (later
George V), the Duke and Duchess of York (later George VI and his Queen),
HRH Princess Margaret and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of
Edinburgh. Two valuable pieces at King's House are the full length portraits
of King George III and Queen Charlotte by the famous artist Sir Joshua Reynolds.
(George III was the least stable of Royals, of whom the Whig parliamentarian
Charles Fox said: The King was observed in Windsor park engaged in conversation
with a tree. But that's not the worst of it, the tree was getting the best
of the argument.) Poor King George and his Queen have witnessed many a state
banquet as they look down from the walls of the dining room, and many lighthearted
occasions such as Meet the People Tea parties. Care to have tea at King's
House? Ask about the Meet the People Program at the Jamaica Tourist Board.
(Tel: (809) 929-9213/9)
THE BOB MARLEY MUSEUM at 56 Hope Road is a must for all reggae fans.
SOVEREIGN CENTRE at Liguanea is Jamaica's biggest and most Americanized shopping Mall with a Food Court, restaurants and two cinemas.
CAMPION COLLEGE at 108 Hope Road is an outstanding co-educational school, a Roman Catholic institution.
JAMAICA COLLEGE at 189 Hope Road is a renowned boys school. Past pupils include National Hero Rt. Excellent Norman Manley and his son former Prime Minister Michael Manley.
HOPE GARDENS stretches over 100 acres below
the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The spacious layout features lawns,
flowering trees, flower beds, ornamental ponds and green houses all of which
have deteriorated inexorably over the past two decades.
A small, formerly sad zoo is in the process of transformation thanks
to the Friends of the Zoo and funding from World Wildlife Fund, the National
Wildlife Foundation and the Environmental Fund of Jamaica. There are plans
for an eco-park on the hillside which is scheduled for reafforestatation.
Zoo curator Rheema Kerr is a wildlife biologist and energetic den mother
of the WECAN club for junior naturalists. COCONUT PARK,
beside the zoo is a small amusement park.
THE COLLEGE OF ARTS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (CAST),
founded in 1963 offers diploma courses in Science, Engineering, Building,
Commerce, Management and Teacher Training. A number of benefactors including
Great Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, USA, West Germany, the World Bank,
Organization of American States and the United Nations Development Program
have contributed to its steady growth.
On its twenty-fifth anniversary Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth unveiled
a plaque in a new auditorium and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh planted
a mahogany tree in the grounds. CAST's green Principal, Dr. Alfred Sangster,
introduced a Solar Energy Institute and promotes reafforestation.
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES (UWI),
wedged between Long Mountain and the Hope River, spreads over 635 acres
of the former sugar states of Mona and Papine. The stone aqueduct that used
to provide water power for both factories is a campus landmark. The University
began in 1948 with 33 medical students. It was incorporated by Royal Charter
in 1949 as the University College affiliated to the University of London.
The first Chancellor was HRH Princess Alice of Athlone (since deceased)
who proved a tireless fundraiser. It achieved full University status and
the power to grant its own degrees in 1962.
UWI, a survivor of the abortive attempt to establish a political Federation of the British West Indian colonies, is a regional institution serving and supported by Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana, Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada and British Honduras.
Mona is the largest campus and administrative headquarters. There is a campus at St Augustine in Trinidad and another at Cave Hill in Barbados. Degrees are offered in Arts and General Studies, Agriculture, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. CARIMAC in the faculty of Arts offers diploma courses in Mass Communications. Research institutions, special projects and research units located at Mona include the Institute of Social and Economic Research, the Trade Union Education Unit, the Advanced Nursing Education Unit, and the Sickle Cell Research Program. A small nuclear facility installed in the Science Faculty by the Atomic Agency of Canada Ltd. is used for research in geology, medicine, agriculture and marine investigations.
The University Hospital on campus is a teaching hospital with 500 beds.
The Tony Thwaites Wing, built by subscription, is a private wing with state-of-the-art
facilities. The Mona Library contains over 300,000 books and periodicals
with branch libraries for Medicine and Natural Science. In the Library of
the Norman Manley Law School, the Norman Manley Room displays memorabilia
of the National Hero and famous advocate his desk, chair, diaries, medals,
athletic trophies and photographs.
Interesting buildings on campus include the Chapel (built with cut stone salvaged from an old sugar works at Gayle in Trelawny), the Creative Arts Centre and the Department of Psychiatry, both recipients of the Governor General's Award for Architecture.
A bio-technology pilot project supervised by the Botany Department purifies the UWI sewage and recycles the water to produce phenomenal rice yields. The Geology Dept has a mini-museum in which you can see Jamaican fossils over 60 million years old including a 7 foot shell. The Norman Manley Law School and Sustainable Development Department are also well worth a visit.
During the Second World War, the British government used Mona to house
evacuees from the islands of Malta and Gibraltar and also as a prisoner-of-war
camp. The temporary wooden buildings were put to use in the initial days
of the University and some are still in use today.
HALF WAY TREE
The Half Way Tree Clock was erected in 1913 in memorial to King Edward VII and occasionally tells the right time. The junction around it is usually clogged with vehicles. In the midst of the traffic mayhem an attractively restored pink and white colonial building is an outlet for Tastee Patties. The old Half Way Tree Court House is being restored by the Jamaica Historical Buildings Trust as well as the adjacent St Andrew Parish Church one of the oldest and most affluent in the island.
Shopping plazas stretch along both sides of Constant Spring Road which is one-way down from West King's House Road to the Clock.
Immaculate Conception High School at 152 Constant Spring Road is a leading
girls school run by Franciscan Sisters.
CONSTANT SPRING GOLF CLUB has an 18 hole
championship golf course, tennis, squash and badminton courts, a swimming
pool, bar and snack bar. Members and their friends only, but bonafide visitors
to the island may apply for temporary membership.
MANOR CENTRE of Constant Spring Road, just before the traffic lights and the market, is another Miami-style shopping centre. MANOR PARK PLAZA is on the Right after the lights. Beyond here residential areas fan out over Red Hills and Stony Hill. There are excellent panoramic views over the city from these areas, especially at night. Long Lane leads you to the village of Stony Hill and the Junction route which follows the Wag Water River past Castleton Gardens to the north coast.
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