the capital and the commercial, administrative
and cultural heart of the island. It is
the largest English-speaking city in the
Caribbean, has the seventh largest natural
harbor in the world, and lies on a wide
plain with the sea to the south and the
St. Andrew Mountain as its backdrop to the
north. It was founded in 1692 after an earthquake
devastated the capital Port Royal.
The survivors moved to what is now Kingston
and were able to plan a new city from scratch.
It was laid out in a grid pattern, which
remains today and makes it very easy to
get around, especially in the downtown area.
It became the capital in 1872, and considerable
rebuilding was needed after an earthquake
and fire on 14 January 1907 that killed
almost 1,500 people.
It is now a modern, bustling, sprawling
city that never seems to sleep. It is the
seat of Government, has an international
airport, busy port and modern cruise ship
facilities as well as a wealth of tourist
facilities from accommodation to restaurants
and gift shops to galleries.
The town was built on the waterfront but
has gradually spread inland over the Liguanea
Plains, with new business and shopping districts.
New Kingston has emerged as he commercial
heart of the capital and with its skyscrapers,
is like a mini-Manhattan in New York. A
major renewal scheme is underway to revitalize
the former downtown area. The downtown area
also houses many banking, commercial and
Residential Kingston is a charming mix of
old and new, with wonderful traditional
gingerbread homes with their elaborate balconies
and fretwork, classic eighteenth century
Georgian mansions, and modern houses and
apartment blocks. It has to be added, however,
that while Kingston has many fine old buildings
and some hugely expensive new ones, it also
has appalling slums, especially in western
Kingston. While the downtown area, close
to the waterfront, is the place to explore,
the heart of Kingston is now in New Kingston,
a triangular area to the north, largely
bordered by Half Way Tree Road, Old Hope
Road and Hope Road.
Start your walking tour by the cruise ship
piers in front of Ocean Boulevard, although
cruise ships no longer call at Kingston.
The area just inshore, between Princess
Street and Duke Street which both run inland
parallel with each other contain a number
of interesting buildings. The Oceana often
hosts live conferences, and the main post
office is on Temple Lane.
Kingston Mall runs between Princess Street
and King Street parallel with and one block
in from Ocean Boulevard. The
National Art Gallery - 922-1561,
is between Orange Street and King Street.
Open from 10am to 5pm daily, it is in the
Roy West Building with exhibits about Jamaica's
art history and featuring many of the island's
most talented artists. There is a fantastic
bronze statue of Bob Marley on the ground
floor, and upstairs there are works by Intuitive
artists John Dunkley, David Miller and Sidney
McLaren, sculptures Edna Manley and modern
pieces by Tina Matkovic, Colin Garland and
Mallico Reynolds, known as Kapo, and regarded
as one of Jamaica's modern artistic geniuses.
The annual exhibition, featuring the island's
best artists, is held from December to January.
Off Ocean Boulevard between Church St. and
Duke Street is the Jamaica
Conference Center with its ultra-modern
convention hall. It is open on Thursday
only between 11am and 2 pm - Tel: 922-9160.
It has on-site restaurants, gardens, offices
and in-bond and souvenir shops that are
On the other side of Duke Street are the
headquarters of the Bank of Jamaica . The
Coin and Notes Museum is in the
Bank of Jamaica building and exhibits the
history of Jamaican tokens, coins, and paper
money. It is open 8:30 am to 2 pm, Monday
to Friday: 922-0750.
Head inland up Duke Street, turn right into
Tower Street and continue just past the
junction with East Street. On your right
is the Institute
of Jamaica: 922-0620. The Institute
is noted for its collection of historic
documents about the Caribbean, and the National
Library next door has the largest collection
of books, articles and prints in the West
Indies. The Institute also houses the
Natural History Museum, formerly
the Science Museum. It is the oldest museum
in Jamaica and exhibits the preserved animals
and plants found on the island. The Herbarium
(where dried plants are stored) contains
over 125,000 specimens and is the best in
the Caribbean. It is open from 8:30 am to
5 pm, Monday to Thursday.
Keep right to Georges Lane, turn right into
Duke Lane which has many fine old building,
including the St. Andrew Scots Kirk Church
Kings House, the gleaming white Governor
General's official residence is set in 200
landscaped acres (80 hectares) at Vale Royal
on Montrose Road which lies between Hope
Road and Old Hope Road, and the gardens
are open to the public daily. The Prime
Minister's office is in Jamaica House, built
in the 1960s and originally the official
residence. Continue over the junction with
Charles Street to visit Kingston Synagogue
on the right. The United Congregation of
Israelites is the island's only synagogue.
William Grant Park
Retrace your steps to Charles Stret, turn
right and then left into Love Street and
head for William Grant Park. Just before
the Park which is in the heart of downtown
Kingston is the 1,000-seat
Ward Theatre. There has been
theater, both indoor and open air, of one
kind or another on this site for more than
200 years. The present theater, rebuilt
after the 1907 earthquake, is now most famous
for its unique Jamaican pantomime season
which opens each year on 26 December, although
there are musical and theatrical events
throughout the year: 922-0453.
The park is more often referred to as the
parade, so called because it is used to
house military barracks before these wre
moved to Up Park Camp in the middle of the
eighteenth century. Today, the Parade and
adjacent streets, especialy to the east
bustle with activity during the day. There
is the Coronation produce market with its
hagglers (street vendors), and it is not
unusual to see street musicians or religious
temperance groups. The Parade also boasts
a bandstand, fountains and open-air theater.
It is also the terminal for many of the
Cross over the park at Kingston Parish Church
on South Parade. The church was rebuilt
in 1909, two yers after being destroyed
in the earthquake. Buses for the airport
leave from across the junction of North
Parade and West Queen Street. If you continue
westwards along South Parade and then Beckford
Street, you reach its junction with Pechon
Street where many of the buses leave for
areas outside Kingston, and the railway
station is off Barry Street that runs off
From the parish church head south on King
Street, the main shopping street, with as
many stalls and vendors on the street as
there are in the shoops. The Post office
is just beyond the junction with Barry Street.
Continue south, andthen turn right into
Harbour Street, and left into Pechon Street
to visit the Victoria
Crafts Market on the waterfront
that caters for the tourist hunting souvenirs.
It offers woodcarving, woven goods, linen
and silk batiks and other island crafts.
Other Things To See And Do In And Around
The African Museum
is in the gleaming white Devon House complex
on the corner of Hope Road and Waterloo
Road. It was established in 1971. It contains
artifacts relating to Jamaica's African
Devon House, a national monument,
is an elegant white three story Georgian-style
Great House built in 1881 by George Stiebel,
the Caribbean's first black millionaire.
It has been beautifully restored by the
National Trust. It contains one of the world's
finest collections of antique mahogany furniture.
A large shaded verandah runs round the ground
floor, and there are balconies on the first
floor with great views over the gardens
and surrounding countryside. In the landscaped
grounds with towering palms and lush vegetation,
are a Port Royal-style grog shop, Norma's
on the Terrace restaurant specializing in
Jamaican cuisine, craft shop, souvenir shop,
and a ice cream shop where you can try deliciaous
tropical fruit tasting ices. It is open
from 10 am to pm, Tuesday to Saturday: 929-7029.
The Bob Marley Museum is further
along at 56 Hope Road on the corner with
Marley Road. It opened in 1986 and was formerly
Bob Marley's residence and the site of the
Tuff Gong recording studio. It contains
an increcdible mural 'The Journey of Bob
Marley Superstar', painted by Everald Brown,
and has a collection of Marley memorabilia
depicting the life and career of the late
reggae superstar. No photography is allowed.
It is open 9:30 am to 5 pm, Monday, tuesday,
Thursday and Friday, and 12:30 pm to 6 pm
o Wednesday, Sturday and public holidays
Caymanas Park offers
horse racing every Wednesday, Saturday,
and on public holidays. 12:30 pm to 6:00
pm. The course is in Waterford to the west
of Kingston and is best reached by taking
the Causeway from Marcus Garvey Drive in
the city center.
The Folk Musical
Instrument Exhibition opened
as a teaching aid to Jamaica School of Music
in 1981 , and contains unusual musical instruments
collected between 1966 and 1981. The Geology
museum exhibits rocks and mineral s of Jamaica
and collections from other countries, many
of them rare.
The Hope Botanical
Gardens are on Old Hope Road
past Jamaica College and next to the College
of Arts, Science and Technology. Founded
in 1881, it is the largest botanical gardens
in the West Indies, covering 200 acres (80
hectares). The huge lawns are surrounded
by towering royal palms. It is open daily
from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm - 927-1257.
The Jamaica Defense Force Museum (Military
Museum) is in Up Park camp, off
South Camp Road. There are fascinating plans
of the many forts built around Kingston
in the eighteenth century, as well as information,
weapons, medals and uniforms of the West
Indies Regiment and the Jamaica Infantry
Militia tht existed from 1662 to 1906. It
is open from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday,
and visits are by appointment.
Liguanea is north of New Kingston
and site of the Sovereign Centre, the capital's
newest shopping complex, with cinemas, banks
and a food hall.
is a glorious sunspot off Kingston's shore.
South of The Palisadoes
the uninhabited island can be
reached by boat and it is great for swimming
and snorkeling. It is open all day, daily.
The National Arena
and National Stadium are side
by side off State Road that runs off Mountain
View Avenue on the eastern side of town.
The arena is used for a wide range of activities
from trade exhibitions to the Caribbean's
largest flower show, the National Festival
Song Competititon andthe Festival King and
Queen Costume - 929-4970. Close by the arena
is another fine bronze of Bob Marley.
Port Henderson lies to the south
west of the capial connected to it by a
causeway that runs from Kingston waterfront
across Hunts Bay to Portmore. When Spanish
Town was the island capital, Port Henderson
was the main harbor and protected by two
forts - Fort Clarence and fort Augusta,
and it became a fashionable nineteenth century
spa resort. The town was badly damaed by
the 1951 hurricane and is now a small coastal
community opposite Port Royal.
It is worth visiting as a number of its
older buildings have been restored or their
ruins uncovered by the National Trust. These
include the ruins of Green
Castle Great House and Bullock's
Lodge and the Longhouse,
which was an inn until the end of the ninetenth
century. Fort Clarence stood at the end
of an arid promontory to the south of Port
Hendersonand guards the harbor approaches.
Today you can enjoy a swim off Fort Clarence
Beach or Hellshire Beach to the South. The
Arawaks were early settlers in this area
and there are petroglyphs in Two
Sisters Cave at Hellshire Beach.
It is a small white sand beach with nearby
steps that lead down to the 200,000 year-old
cave below sea level. The area also has
interesting vegetation and wildlife adapted
to the very dry conditions, including some
The Rockfort Mineral
Baths are in a natural mineral
spa on the coast on Windward Road that runs
east out of Kinston 938-5055.
on South Camp Road is where you go if you
want to experience a West Indies cricket
of the West Indies is off Old
Hope Road on the eastern outskirts of town.
Turn off on to Mona Road, past the Mona
Reservoir to reach the university campus,
originally part of the Mona Sugar Estate.
You can stroll around the campus where there
are old aqueducts, machinery and other reminders
of its agricultural past alongside modern
murals. The chapel close to the entrance
used to be a sugar warehouse on the Gales
Valley Estate in Trelawny. It
was taken down brick by brick and rebuilt
on its present site. Under the roof you
can make out the name of the original owner
and the date when it was first built. The
university is open from 9am to 5 pm, Monday
The Zoology Museum, operated
by the University of the West Indies houses
exhibits similar to those at the Natural
History Museum, but contains many more animals.
The marine and entomology collections are
considered the best in the West Indies.
Creative Arts Centre has a varied
program of student productions. The University
Carvial is held during February - 927-1660.