PM Opens Memorial Park in Honour of 1907 Earthquake Victims

Photo: Mark Bell Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (centre), has a light moment with Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill (right), and Chairman of the Earthquake Monument Restoration Committee, and Chief Executive Officer, Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, W. Billy Heaven. Occasion was the commemoration ceremony and official opening of a memorial park in honour of victims of the 1907 earthquake on January 14. The area, which is Jamaica’s newest heritage tourist attraction, is located at Little Eighth Street in Greenwich Town, St. Andrew.

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said the memorial park built in Greenwich Town, St. Andrew, in honour of those who perished in the 1907 earthquake, should serve as a potent reminder to Jamaicans of the need to always be prepared for natural disasters.
  • “Some parts are still a work in progress but as it is now, it is looking good,” he said, adding that a maintenance agreement will be finalised for the care and upkeep of the park.
  • The Great Earthquake of 1907, with a magnitude of 6.5, shook Kingston at approximately 3:30 pm on Monday, January 14. It was considered to be one of the deadliest earthquakes recorded in history.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said the memorial park built in Greenwich Town, St. Andrew, in honour of those who perished in the 1907 earthquake, should serve as a potent reminder to Jamaicans of the need to always be prepared for natural disasters.

“May it forever remind us that no matter our social and economic status, we are all one people. This is a fact usually made clear by the effects of natural disasters which do not discriminate in its impact,” she said.

The Prime Minister was addressing the official opening of the park yesterday (Jan. 14), on the 109th anniversary of the devastating earthquake. She also laid a wreath in honour of the 500 unidentified persons, who perished.

The project, undertaken at a cost of $15 million, included restoration of the monument and creation of a small park around the structure, construction of an access road to the site, and erection of perimetre fencing and appropriate signage.

The memorial park, located in an area called Little Eight Street, is Jamaica’s newest heritage tourist attraction.

The Prime Minister said the park is a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives. She said it is intended to attract Jamaicans locally and in the Diaspora.

“We expect that many more Jamaicans will come to learn about this major element of the history of Kingston and the history of Jamaica. This is our history as a people,” she said.

Chairman of the Earthquake Monument Restoration Committee, and Chief Executive Officer, Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, W. Billy Heaven, said the multi-phase project will see the installation of 501 mini headstones, a wall of verified names, public facilities, as well as shops for the sale of memorabilia.

“Some parts are still a work in progress but as it is now, it is looking good,” he said, adding that a maintenance agreement will be finalised for the care and upkeep of the park.

It is also intended that the park will be further extended to include all five acres of the property.

Other agencies  involved in the project are: Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Sports Development Foundation (SDF) and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT).

A total of 1,000 persons lost their lives during the 1907 earthquake, 500 of whom are buried at the Greenwich Town memorial park.

The massive earthquake, and the fire it caused, destroyed sections of downtown Kingston.

The monument was erected on June 2, 1907 in honour of the 500 souls, whose bodies were never identified.

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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (centre), lays a wreath in memory of those who lost their lives during the 1907 earthquake, during a commemoration ceremony and official opening of a memorial park in Greenwich Town, St. Andrew on January 14. Assisting Mrs. Simpson Miller are Minister of Education, Rev. Hon. Ronald Thwaites; and Zein Issa Nakash of SuperClubs, both of whom lost relatives in the earthquake. Others looking on (in background from left) are: Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill; Mayor of Kingston, Dr. Senator Angela Brown Burke; and Managing Director, Gleaner Company, Christopher Barnes.

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