Kingston, Jamaica

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Central and South America; Cities

Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation
Downtown Kingston and the Port of Kingston.
Downtown Kingston and the Port of Kingston.
Motto: A City Which Hath Foundations
Location of Kingston shown within Jamaica
Location of Kingston shown within Jamaica
Country Flag of Jamaica Jamaica
County Surrey
Parish Kingston
St. Andrew
Established 1693
 -  Mayor Desmond McKenzie
 - Total 453 km² (174.9 sq mi)
Elevation 9 m (30 ft)
Population (2001)
 - Total 651,880
 -  Density 1,439/km² (3,727/sq mi)
 - Kingston Parish 96,052
 - St. Andrew Parish 555,828
Time zone EST ( UTC-5)

The City of Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica and is located on the southeastern coast of the island country. It faces a natural harbour protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island. In the Western Hemisphere, Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city south of the United States, with a population of 651,880 (2001 census).

The local government bodies of the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew were amalgamated by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation Act of 1923, to form the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC). Greater Kingston, or the "Corporate Area" refers to the KSAC; however, it does not solely refer to Kingston Parish, which only consists of the old downtown and Port Royal. Kingston Parish had a population of 96,052, and St. Andrew had a population of 555,828 in 2001.

Even though Greater Kingston properly refers to the entire area of the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, it should be noted that the significant rural areas of St. Andrew are not referred to as Kingston by Jamaicans. The area commonly referred to as Kingston is bounded by Six Miles to the west, Stony Hill to the north, Papine to the northeast and Harbour View to the east. Communities in rural St. Andrew such as Gordon Town, Mavis Bank, Lawrence Tavern, Mt. Airy and Bull Bay would not be described as being in Kingston.

Two parts make up the central area of Kingston: the historic but troubled Downtown, and New Kingston. Several reggae stars, including Buju Banton, Sean Paul, Bounty Killer, and Beenie Man, hail from Kingston. Attractions include the nearby Hellshire and Lime Cay beaches, the National Gallery of Jamaica, the ruins of Port Royal, and Devon House, a mansion with adjoining park that once belonged to Jamaica's first black millionaire. Several annual and well-visited festivals are held in Kingston.

Kingston is served by Norman Manley International Airport and also by the smaller and primarily domestic Tinson Pen Aerodrome.


Bird's eye view of Kingston after the 1907 earthquake.
Bird's eye view of Kingston after the 1907 earthquake.

Kingston was founded on July 22, 1692, as a place for refugees for survivors of the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal. Before the earthquake, Kingston’s functions were purely agricultural. The earthquake survivors set up a refugee camp on the sea front. Approximately two thousand people died due to mosquito borne diseases. Initially the refugees lived in a tented camp on Colonel Barry's Hog Crawle. The town did not begin to grow until after the further destruction of Port Royal by the Nick Catania Pirate Fleet's fire in 1703. Surveyor John Goffe drew up a plan for the town based on a grid bounded by North, East, West and Harbour Streets. By 1716 it had become the largest town and the centre of trade for Jamaica. The government sold land to people with the regulation that they would purchase no more than the amount of the land that they owned in Port Royal, and only land on the sea front. Gradually wealthy merchants began to move their residences from above their businesses to the farm lands to the north on the plains of Liguanea.

The first free school, Wolmer's, was founded in 1729 and there was a theatre, first one in Harbour Street and then moved in 1774 to North Parade. Both are still in existence. In 1755 the governor had decided to transfer the government offices from Spanish Town to Kingston. It was thought by some to be an unsuitable location for the Assembly in close proximity to the moral distractions of Kingston, and the next governor rescinded the Act. However, by 1780 the population of Kingston was 11,000, and the merchants began lobbying for the administrative capital to be transferred from Spanish Town, which was by then eclipsed by the commercial activity in Kingston.

At the end of the 18th century, more than 3000 brick buildings were in the city. The harbour fostered trade and naval wars of the 18th century. Kingston took over the functions of Spanish Town (the capital at the time). These functions included, agriculture, commercial, processing, and a main transportation hub to and from Kingston and other sections of the island. The government passed an act to transfer the government offices to Kingston from Spanish Town, and in 1872 the capital was transferred from Spanish Town to Kingston. It kept this status when the island was granted independence in 1962.

Scenes in Kingston after the 1882 fire.
Scenes in Kingston after the 1882 fire.

In 1907, 800 people died in another earthquake known as the 1907 Kingston earthquake, destroying nearly all the historical buildings south of Parade in the city. That was when a restriction of no more than 60 feet was instated on buildings in the central business district. These three story high buildings were built with reinforced concrete. Construction on King Street in the city was the first area to breach this building code. During the 1930s, island wide riots lead to the development of trade unions and political parties to represent workers.

The city became home to the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies founded in 1948 with 24 medical students.

View of the Uptown New Kingston skyline (2007).
View of the Uptown New Kingston skyline (2007).

It wasn’t till the 1960s that major change occurred in the redevelopment of Kingston’s central business district. The international attention of reggae music at that time coincided with the expansion and development of 95 acres of the Downtown Kingston water front area.

View of the Downtown Kingston waterfront showing the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Bank of Jamaica.
View of the Downtown Kingston waterfront showing the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Bank of Jamaica.

These developments lead to an influx of shops and offices, and the development of a new financial centre – New Kingston, which replaced the Knutsford Racetrack. Multi-story buildings and boulevards were placed within that section.

In 1966 Kingston was the host city to the Commonwealth Games.

The westward section of the city was not the focus of development, and that area proved to be a tense area in political times. The 1970s then saw deteriorating economic conditions that led to recurrent violence and a drop off in tourism which later affected the island.

In the 1980 general elections, the democratic socialist People's National Party (PNP) government was outvoted. The subsequent governments have been open market oriented since the 1980s. Within a global urban era, the 1990s saw that Kingston has made efforts to modernize and develop its city structure and functions. Various organizations such as The Kingston Restoration Company, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and the Port Authority of Jamaica, along with the Port Royal Development Company, among others sought to develop the urban structure of the city.

Modern Structure

Today, the city of Kingston sees that the original waterfront area along Harbour Street, once redolent with the aromas of colonial West Indian trade in rums and spices, has been re-developed and shipping has moved out to Newport West, adjacent to the extensive Kingston Industrial Estate.

A view of uptown Kingston, Jamaica showing the New Kingston night scene (2008).
A view of uptown Kingston, Jamaica showing the New Kingston night scene (2008).

A great deal of Kingston is pure shanty town, but again one sees striking contrasts, especially in New Kingston, situated between the teeming downtown and mid town areas and the fading but still gracious suburbs of St. Andrew.

The city’s wealthy is situated in the suburbs to the northern section of Kingston, closer to the hills and Mountains of the Blue Mountains range. The functions of the wealthy are met with in the New Kingston, Manor Park and Barbican / Liguanea areas, thus the downtown is now used mostly used by the low-income population.

New Kingston is a business area which embodies the best of modern tropical town planning, graciously combining high rise buildings and well-groomed gardens with the soaring Blue Mountains as a backdrop.


The majority of the population is of African heritage. East Indians are the second largest racial group, followed by Chinese, White, Arab (primarily Lebanese). A small number of Hispanics, mostly from Latin America, also reside in the city.


There is a wide variety of Christian churches in the city. Most are Protestant, a legacy of British colonization of the island. The chief denominations are Church of God, Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, and Pentecostal. Afro-Christian syncretic religions are also widespread.

There is a Jewish synagogue in the city as well as a large number of Buddhists and Muslims.


Kingston skyline, circa 2003
Kingston skyline, circa 2003

Kingston is surrounded by the Blue Mountains, Red Hills, Long Mountain and the Kingston Harbour. The city is sited on the Liguanea Plain, an alluvial plain located next to the Hope River. Kingston experiences frequent earthquakes, including the 1907 earthquake.


Kingston has a tropical climate, characterized by a wet season from May to November, which coincides with the hurricane season, and a dry season from December to April. During the dry season, there is not much rainfall, however, cold and stationary fronts occur at this time, and often bring heavy showers, especially in March. Kingston is located in the rain shadow of the Blue Mountains, therefore, little to none of the moisture the Northeast Trade Winds carry falls over Kingston, causing Kingston to be very dry in comparison to Portland and Saint Mary on the windward side of the Blue Mountains. Kingston is on a coastal location, hence it comes under the influence of the sea, though dense urban development can negate this effect. In the 21st century, Kingston has experienced temperatures as high as 34°C (93.2°F) and temperatures as low as 25°C (77°F). Between 1895 and 1990, the total average rainfall was recorded at 909.7 mm (35.8 inches), the highest monthly average rainfall recorded in October at 181.1 mm (7.1 inches), and the lowest monthly average rainfall recorded in March at 22.7 mm (0.9 inches).

Neighbourhoods and Districts

  • Six Miles
  • New Haven
  • Duhaney Park
  • Patrick Gardens
  • Pembroke Hall
  • Washington Gardens
  • Olympic Gardens
  • Constant Spring
  • Liguanea
  • Beverly Hills
  • Cross Roads
  • Molynes Gardens
  • Three Mile
  • Four Mile
  • Havendale
  • Port Royal
  • Cockburn Gardens
  • Waterhouse
  • Newport West
  • Delacree Park
  • Trench Town
  • Whitfield Town
  • Greenwich Town
  • Hannah Town, West Kingston
  • Jones Town
  • New Kingston
  • Kencot
  • Richmond Park
  • Vineyard Town
  • Mountain View Gardens
  • Meadowbrook
  • Eastwood Park
  • Seaview Gardens
  • Grants Pen
  • Barbican
  • Cherry Gardens
  • Norbrook
  • Mannings Hill
  • Red Hills
  • Hope Pastures
  • Mona Heights
  • Beverly Hills
  • Rollington Town
  • Bournemouth Gardens
  • Norman Gardens
  • Harbour View
  • Denham Town
  • Maxfield
  • Cassava Piece
  • Hughenden


The Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica's police force, is based on Old Hope Road near Liguanea. Smaller police stations, such as Hunt's Bay, Matilda's Corner and Half-Way-Tree, are dispersed across the Corporate Area. The Supreme Court of Jamaica is also located in Kingston. Other courts, such as the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate's Court, Gun Court, Traffic Court and Family Court, make Kingston their home. The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has its headquarters at Up Park Camp near New Kingston and Cross Roads. The JDF also operates a major naval base at Port Royal.


Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Every year since 2000 Jamaica has reached over 1000 murders in which 2007 murder count was 1,574. 1/3 of murders are within Kingston which 80% are in the depressed garrison areas of Downtown Kingston.


Kingston, as the capital, is the financial, cultural, economic and industrial centre of Jamaica. Many financial institutions are based in Kingston, and the city boasts the largest number of hospitals, schools and cultural attractions of any urban area on the island.


  • Kingston Public Hospital
  • Victoria Jubilee Hospital
  • National Chest Hospital
  • University College Hospital of the West Indies
  • Bustamante Hospital for Children
  • Medical Associates Hospital
  • St. Joseph's Hospital
  • Andrews Memorial Hospital
  • Bellevue Hospital
  • Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre
  • Nuttall Memorial Hospital
  • Maxfield Park Medical Centre

Secondary Schools

Hope Valley Experimental


  • Tivoli Gardens High School
  • Denham Town High School
  • Excelsior High
  • Ardenne High School
  • Campion College, Jamaica
  • Mona High School
  • Tarrant High School
  • Clan Carthy High School
  • The Priory School
  • Kingston Technical High School
  • St. Andrew Technical High School
  • Donald Quarrie Technical High School
  • Papine High School
  • Lister Mair-Gilby High School (for the deaf)
  • Hillel Academy
  • Meadowbrook High School
  • Trench Town High School
  • Camperdown High School


  • Kingston College
  • Calabar High School
  • Jamaica College
  • Wolmer's Boys School
  • St. George's College for Boys


  • The Queen's School for Girls
  • Wolmer's Girls School
  • Immaculate Conception High School for Girls
  • St. Andrew High School for Girls
  • St. Hugh's High School for Girls
  • Merl Grove High School for Girls
  • Holy Childhood High School for Girls
  • Convent Of Mercy Academy, Alpha

Tertiary Institutions

  • University of the West Indies (Mona)
  • University of Technology, Jamaica
  • Jamaica Theological Seminary
  • Caribbean Maritime Institute
  • Excelsior Community College
  • Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts
  • St. Joseph's Teachers College
  • Mico University College
  • University College of The Caribbean(UCC)
  • Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC)
  • Jamaica-German Automotive Training School (JAGAS)
  • National Tool and Engineering Institute (NTI)
  • Vocational Training and Development Institute (VTDI)
  • United Theological College of the West Indies
  • Northern Caribbean University N.C.U


  • Hilton Kingston Hotel
  • Jamaica Pegasus
  • Courtleigh Hotel and Suites
  • Knutsford Court Hotel
  • Altamont Court Hotel
  • Christar Villas
  • Medallion Hall Hotel
  • Blue Mountain Inn
  • Morgans Harbour Hotel ( Port Royal)
  • Terra Nova Hotel
  • Four Seasons Hotel


Island Griil Fast Food restaurant in New Kingston
Island Griil Fast Food restaurant in New Kingston
  • Island Grill
  • Indies Pub and Grill
  • Strawberry Hill (Irish Town)
  • Golden Bowl
  • Jade Garden
  • Akbar
  • Dragon Court
  • Habibi Latino
  • Kabana
  • Columbus Italian (Jamaica Pegasus)
  • Japanese Restaurant (Hilton Kingston Hotel)

Local Fast Food chains

  • Tastee
  • Mothers
  • Juici Patties
  • Captain's Bakery

International Fast Food chains

  • KFC
  • Burger King
  • Subway (restaurant)
  • Wendy's
  • Pizza Hut
  • Denny's
  • Domino's Pizza
  • Popeye's
  • TGI Fridays

Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates

Prominent people born in Kingston

  • John Barnes (1963-), English footballer
  • Aston "Family Man" Barrett (1946-), bassist
  • Buju Banton (1973-), reggae singer
  • Bushwick Bill (1966-), of rap group Geto Boys
  • Dennis Brown (1957-1999), reggae singer
  • Frederic Hymen Cowen (1852-1935), British composer
  • Chili Davis (1960-), Major League Baseball player
  • Desmond Dekker (1941-2006) singer and songwriter
  • Sandy Denton (1964-), "Pepa" of hip hop group Salt-N-Pepa
  • Coxsone Dodd (1932–2004), reggae music producer
  • Sly Dunbar (1952-), reggae musician, dub music producer
  • Eek-A-Mouse (1957-), reggae singer
  • Patrick Ewing (1962-), All-Star basketball player for the New York Knicks
  • Amy Jacques Garvey (1895–1973), Journalist, publisher, second wife of Marcus Garvey
  • Chris Gayle (1979-), famous cricketer
  • Howard Grant (1966-), boxer
  • Lisa Hanna (1975-), Miss World 1993, politician
  • Vybz Kartel (1976-), dancehall artist
  • Bounty Killer (1972-), dancehall artist
  • Sandra Levy (1965-), field hockey player
  • Beenie Man (1972-), reggae artist
  • Elephant Man (1975-), dancehall artist
  • Damian Marley (1978-), reggae artist and youngest son of Bob Marley
  • Ziggy Marley (1968-), reggae artist and son of Bob Marley
  • Mavado (1981-), dancehall artist
  • Sean Paul (1973-), dancehall/reggae artist
  • Junior Reid (1965-), reggae singer
  • Shaggy (1968-), reggae singer
  • Robbie Shakespeare (1953-), reggae musician, dub music producer
  • Courtney Walsh (1962-), famous cricketer
  • Devon White (1962-), Major League Baseball player
  • Willard White (1946-), opera singer

Sister cities

Kingston has five sister cities:

Attractions and landmarks

  • Bob Marley Museum
Devon House, home of the first West Indian millionaire of African descent.
Devon House, home of the first West Indian millionaire of African descent.
  • Coins and Notes Museum
  • Coke Methodist Church
  • Devon House
  • Emancipation Park
  • Fort Charles, Port Royal
  • Hellshire Beach
  • Hope Botanical Gardens
  • Institute of Jamaica
  • Jamaica Defence Force Museum
  • King's House
  • National Heroes Park
  • Nelson Mandela Park
  • Old Jewish Cemetery
  • Plumb Point Lighthouse
  • Rockfort Mineral Spa
  • St. William Grant Park
  • National Gallery of Jamaica
  • University College of The Caribbean
  • University of Technology, Jamaica
  • University of the West Indies
  • Ward Theatre

Retrieved from ",_Jamaica"
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