Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation
(Greater Kingston)
New Kingston
New Kingston
A city which hath foundations[1]
Kingston is located in Jamaica
Location of Kingston shown within Jamaica
Coordinates: 17°58′17″N 76°47′35″W / 17°58′17″N 76°47′35″W / 17.97139; -76.79306(2019)
 • Total1,243,072[2]
 • Density1,380/km2 (3,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)

Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbour 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. In the Americas, Kingston is the largest predominantly English-speaking city south of the United States.

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 those areas under 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 Parish had a population of 555,828 in 2001.[4] Kingston is only bordered by Saint Andrew to the east, west and north. The geographical border for the parish of Kingston encompasses the following communities, Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Rae Town, Kingston Gardens, National Heroes Park, Bournemouth Gardens, Norman Gardens, Rennock Lodge, Springfield and Port Royal, along with portions of Rollington Town, Franklyn Town and Allman Town.[5][6]

The city proper 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 urban and suburban Saint Andrew. 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 city.

Two parts make up the central area of Kingston: the historic Downtown, and New Kingston. Both are served by Norman Manley International Airport and also by the smaller and primarily domestic Tinson Pen Aerodrome.


Scenes in Kingston after the 1882 fire.
Map of Kingston 1897

Kingston was founded in July 1693 after the earthquake that devastated Port Royal in 1692, the original section of the city which was situated at the bottom of the Liguanea Plains was laid out to house survivors of the earthquake.[7] Before the earthquake, Kingston's functions were purely agricultural. The earthquake survivors set up a camp on the sea front. Approximately two thousand people died due to mosquito-borne diseases. Initially the people 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 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. The new grid system of the town was designed to facilitate commerce, particularly the system of main thoroughfares 66 feet (20 m) across which allowed transportation between the port and plantations farther inland.[8] 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 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 north on the plains of Liguanea.

The first free school, Wolmers's, was founded in 1729[9] and there was a theatre, first on Harbour Street and then moved in 1774 to North Parade. Both are still in existence. In 1755 the governor, Sir Charles Knowles, 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 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.

By the end of the 18th century, the city contained more than 3,000 brick buildings. The harbour fostered trade, and played part in several 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 transport hub to and from Kingston and other sections of the island. In 1788, Kingston had a population of 25,000, which was about a tenth of the overall population of the island. One in every four people living in Kingston was white, and there was a large population of free people of color there too, meaning that two out of every five people living in Kingston were free. The remaining three-fifths of Kingston's population was made up of black slaves.[10]

The government passed an act to transfer the government offices to Kingston from Spanish Town, which occurred in 1872.[11] It kept this status when the island was granted independence in 1962.

Bird's eye view of Kingston after the 1907 earthquake

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 (18 m) was instituted on buildings in the city centre. 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 led 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,[11] with 24 medical students.

Not until the 1960s did major change occur in the development of Kingston's city centre. The international attention of reggae music at that time coincided with the expansion and development of 95 acres (38 ha) of the Kingston city centre waterfront area. These developments led 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 western section of the city was not the focus of development, and that area proved to be politically tense. The 1970s saw deteriorating economic conditions that led to recurrent violence and a decline in tourism which later affected the island.

View of the central Kingston waterfront showing the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Bank of Jamaica

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

Other Languages
አማርኛ: ኪንግስተን
العربية: كينغستون
asturianu: Kingston
Avañe'ẽ: Kingston
azərbaycanca: Kinqston (Yamayka)
বাংলা: কিংস্টন
Bân-lâm-gú: Kingston (Jamaica)
беларуская: Кінгстан (Ямайка)
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кінгстан
български: Кингстън
bosanski: Kingston
català: Kingston
čeština: Kingston
chiShona: Kingston
eesti: Kingston
español: Kingston
Esperanto: Kingstono
euskara: Kingston
Fiji Hindi: Kingston
føroyskt: Kingston
galego: Kingston
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kingston (Jamaica)
Արեւմտահայերէն: Քինկսթըն
hrvatski: Kingston
Igbo: Kingston
Bahasa Indonesia: Kingston, Jamaika
interlingua: Kingston
Interlingue: Kingston (Jamaica)
italiano: Kingston
עברית: קינגסטון
ქართული: კინგსტონი
kernowek: Kingston
Kinyarwanda: Kingston
Kreyòl ayisyen: Kinstòn
لۊری شومالی: کینگستون
latviešu: Kingstona
lietuvių: Kingstonas
Lingua Franca Nova: Kingston
Livvinkarjala: Kingston
lumbaart: Kingston
македонски: Кингстон (Јамајка)
മലയാളം: കിങ്സ്റ്റൺ
მარგალური: კინგსტონი
Bahasa Melayu: Kingston, Jamaica
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Kingston (Jamaica)
Nederlands: Kingston (Jamaica)
Norfuk / Pitkern: Kingston, Jamaeka
norsk: Kingston
norsk nynorsk: Kingston på Jamaica
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Kingston
Papiamentu: Kingston
Piemontèis: Kingston
polski: Kingston
português: Kingston
Runa Simi: Kingston
саха тыла: Киҥстон
shqip: Kingston
sicilianu: Kingston
Simple English: Kingston, Jamaica
slovenčina: Kingston (Jamajka)
slovenščina: Kingston, Jamajka
ślůnski: Kingston
Sranantongo: Kingston
српски / srpski: Кингстон (Јамајка)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kingston
svenska: Kingston
українська: Кінгстон (Ямайка)
vepsän kel’: Kingston (Jamaik)
Tiếng Việt: Kingston, Jamaica
Yorùbá: Kingston
中文: 京斯敦