Parish Name: Kingston
Land Area: 22.7 km2
Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is the smallest parish yet the most populated city on the island. It faces the 7th largest natural harbour in the world that is protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island.
Kingston was founded in July 22, 1692, on Colonel Barry’s Hog Crawle as a refuge for survivors of the earthquake on June 7th which had destroyed two-thirds of Port Royal. Prior to the earthquake, Port Royal was the headquarters of the English buccaneers and was known as the “wickedest” city in the world because of the riotous life of the town’s inhabitants including the likes of privateer, Sir Henry Morgan.
The new town was bounded on the south by Harbour Street while East, West and North Street defined the remainder of Kingston. The original grid pattern of Kingston remains the same today except for a few additions. The additional streets were named after the councillors at the time when the town was founded.
Somewhere around the mid-eighteenth century, the Governor of Jamaica, Admiral Charles Knowles, sought to have the capital city of Jamaica remove from Spanish Town to Kingston. However this reign was brief as Knowles’ successor, Henry Moore, announced on October 3, 1758, that the King had not allowed the Bill making Kingston the capital city of Jamaica.
In 1865, over a hundred years after Admiral Knowles’ attempt to remove the capital of Jamaica to Kingston, Governor Sir John Peter Grant was assigned the task of re-organising Jamaica after a period of civil upheaval which had resulted in the Morant Bay Rebellion. Part of John Peter Grant’s re-organisation of the island included the relocation of the capital from Spanish Town to Kingston. Kingston developed at a phenomenal rate and soon became the centre of trade and commerce in the island. The population of Kingston grew to such an extent that it spilled over in the north into St. Andrew.
Kingston is located on the south-eastern end of the island of Jamaica. It is sheltered by the mountains from the cold northern and north-east trade winds. St. Andrew along with the parish of Kingston has a total coastline area of 64.37 kilometres, with the total area of shoreline (usable coastline) being 48.8 kilometres.
Local Attractions/ Places of Interest
- Parade, located in the centre of the city, was originally called the Victoria Park, after Queen Victoria. It was renamed the St. William Grant Park in 1977, after the noted labour leader and Black Nationalist. Today, as a terminus for buses coming from all over the island, Parade is still perhaps the busiest centre of activity in Kingston.
- Cross Roads was formerly known as Montgomery Corner, after a Lieutenant Montgomery who was allegedly thrown by his horse and dragged to that spot where he died. A clock tower, erected to the memory of servicemen from Kingston and St. Andrew who died in the Second World War, marks the heart of Cross Roads.
- Kingston Harbour, the seventh largest harbour in the world, is considered one of the finest anchorages.
Jamaica’s House of Representatives meets at Gordon House, located at the corner of Duke and Beeston Streets in Kingston. Built in 1960, Gordon House is named after one of Jamaica’s National Heroes, George William Gordon. Prior to 1960, the Legislature met at Headquarters House on the opposite side of Beeston Street.
- The Jamaica Conference Centre, Ocean Boulevard
The Jamaica Conference Centre is an architectural masterpiece. Constructed in the late 1970s to house the International Law of the Sea Secretariat, the Centre is now extensively used as a venue for local and international conferences and seminars.
- The National Gallery, 12 Ocean Boulevard, Kingston Mall
The National Gallery houses some of Jamaica’s invaluable art collections.
- The Institute of Jamaica, 12 East Street
The Institute of Jamaica was established in 1879 for the development of ‘literature, science and art’. The National Library and the Natural History Division are the two main sections of the Institute.
Important Jamaicans from the Parish
Sir Florizel Augustus Glasspole, ON, GCMG, GCVO, K.St.J, the third Governor General of Jamaica (from 1973 to 1991) was born in Kingston, Jamaica on September 25, 1909. He passed away in 2000 at the age 91.
The Hon. Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley OM, OJ, MBE, affectionately known as Miss Lou, was a Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer, and educator born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1919.
Hon. Roger Mais, OJ was a Jamaican journalist, novelist, poet, and playwright born in Kingston, Jamaica. His writings played an integral role in the development of political and cultural nationalism which began with the labour rebellion of 1938.
Hon. Victor Stafford Reid, OJ, was a Jamaican writer who was born on May 1, 1913 in Kingston, Jamaica. His novel ‘New Day’ is considered to be the first West Indian novel to be written primarily in dialect.