Parish Name: St. Andrew
Capital: Half-Way Tree
Land Area: 434.5 km2
St. Andrew was one of the first parishes in Jamaica to be established by law in 1867. Before being established, it was known as ‘Liguanea’, the Taino word for iguana. St. Andrew lies to the north, west and east of Kingston. As Kingston grew in popularity wealthy residents of Kingston began buying old “pens” in St. Andrew. “Pen” originally referred to a farm where livestock was kept, and until recently, many areas in St. Andrew were still called pens. “Pen” soon came to be considered a derogatory term for places where people lived and many of these pens were renamed “gardens”.
St. Andrew stretches from Cross Roads to Rockfort in the east, and reaches up into the Blue Mountains, sharing borders with St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary and St. Catherine. Overlooking Kingston and St. Andrew, the Blue Mountains reach as high as 1,930 metres at Sir John’s Peak within the municipal boundaries. The fan-shaped Liguanea Plains rise from sea level to the foothills of the Blue Mountains. 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
- Half-Way Tree, the capital of St. Andrew, is commonly referred to as the midway mark between what is called “Uptown” and “Downtown”. When the Spaniards first arrived, a huge cotton tree stood near to the parish church, at the junction of the important roads which led from Spanish Town and Kingston to the easterly parishes of Portland (formerly St George) and St. Mary. People travelling from the western parish into Kingston, or further east, often stopped at this “halfway” point to rest and there was a tavern in the shade of the old cotton tree which provided refreshment for the travellers, hence the name of this famous intersection.
- New Kingston is a dazzling metropolis of commerce, with its many-storied office complexes, and exquisite stores and restaurants. All the buildings here -except the Liguanea Club – have been erected since Independence and boast the latest in architectural design and achievement. New Kingston started out as the Knutsford Park Race Track. When the race track closed down, the area remained as a large, dusty vacant lot on which learner drivers practised reversing and parking skills.
- Constant Spring takes its name from a sugar plantation and the (almost) constant flowing spring which gushes from the nearby hills, through the lush green golf course, down onto the Liguanea Plains. Today, Constant Spring is another of the main centres of commerce in the Corporate Area. The Constant Spring Road takes the traveller on a straight path into Half-Way Tree. From there the Half-Way Tree Road continues on a straight route into Cross Roads. From Cross Roads, Slipe Road takes the traveller into the capital, Kingston.
- Liguanea was the original name of the parish of St. Andrew, but now only refers to the small commercial centre mid-way between Half-Way Tree and Papine. Liguanea connects with Half-Way Tree by Hope Road, and to Cross Roads by Old Hope Road.
- Devon House, built in the 1880s by Jamaica’s first black millionaire named George Stiebel, is situated at the corner of Hope and Waterloo Roads and now houses fine restaurants and a craft and shopping centre. Its lush lawns provide a favourite recreation area for many.
- Hope Botanical Gardens, Old Hope Road – the site of these gardens was formerly part of the Hope Sugar Estate. Hope Gardens, and its accompanying zoo, is a continuing attraction for Jamaicans from all walks of life.
- King’s House, Hope Road is located on Hope Road and is the residence of the Governor-General of Jamaica. After the earthquake of 1907, King’s House was rebuilt in 1909 using designs done by Sir Charles Nicholson.
- Jamaica House, Hope Road, built after Independence to be the official residence of the Prime Minister, now serves as the Prime Minister’s office, while Vale royal is the official residence.
- Vale Royal, Montrose Road, known formerly as Prospect Pen, was owned at various times by men of wealth and substance. Once the official residence of the Colonial Secretary, it is one of the few remaining houses in Kingston which has a lookout tower on the roof.
Important Jamaicans from the Parish
The Rt. Excellent George William Gordon, National Hero, was born near Mavis Bank in rural St. Andrew, in 1820. He was a self-educated, Jamaican businessman and politician who was a leading critic of the policies of the governor of Jamaica Edward Eyre in the late 19th century.
The Rt. Hon. Michael Manley, OM, P.C., B.Sc. (Econ,), LL.D. (Hon.), Jamaica’s fourth Prime Minister, was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica on December 10, 1924. He is the son of National Hero Norman Manley.