Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica. Kingston was founded in July 1693 after the earthquake devastated Port Royal in 1692. The original part of the city was built to house survivors of the earthquake at the bottom of the Liguanea Plains. The city took over the functions of Spanish Town (the capital at the time). The city was a commerce, processing, and transportation hub between Jamaica and other areas. Kingston had a population of 25,000 in 1788, which was about a tenth of the island’s population. The majority of people living in Kingston were white, and there were also many free people of color living there, so two out of every five people who lived there were free. The harbor played a keen role in developing the city and economy. The city had over 3,000 brick buildings by the end of the 18th Century.
In 1862, Kingston was incorporated as a corporation with a mayor and council. During that year, a large part of the city was destroyed by fire. Kingston became the new capital in 1872 since the port city had surpassed Spanish Town in size and sophistication. The city council’s powers were transferred to a nominated Municipal Board in 1885, but by then, the city’s affairs were again administered by a mayor.
Here are some stunning historical photos showing what Kingston looked like in the 19th Century.