Cross Roads

While other place spellings may vary in Jamaica (Savannah-La-Mar, Savanna-La-Mar or Savanna la mar; Acadia or Arcadia), Cross Roads in Kingston is defiantly two separate words. A few years ago, it was considered to mark the frontier between uptown and downtown Kingston, although these days, one could argue the urban decay is still creeping northwards.

Uptown refers to the main commercial district of New Kingston and the affluent suburbs of the Liguanea Plain and the foothills of the mountains to the north. Downtown is the old heart of the city, now largely abandoned and derelict. To give an idea of the separation in the city, there are uptown folk who have lived in Kingston all their lives, who fly to Miami to shop at the weekend, go skiing in Colorado, and who have never crossed Cross Roads.

Historically, the name “Cross Roads” has only been in use for about a century, but its association as a place of danger or death is much older.

It was formerly known as Montgomery Corner, supposedly after a Lieutenant Montgomery, who was thrown from his horse while near the west gate of Up Park Camp and dragged to this spot, where he died. But long before the episode of Lieutenant Montgomery, this location was a busy cross roads, and a place of public hangings.
(Source: Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage by Olive Senior)

Crossroads are often associated with transition or changes of state, and can be considered as liminal or threshold places through which travellers must pass and make important decisions or undergo radical changes. This is a very widespread theme, stretching across time and space, from Oedipus meeting and killing his father at a crossroads, to blues pioneer Robert Johnson supposedly selling his soul to the devil at a crossroads in return for musical talent. (Read more examples …)

Crossroads therefore seem to have some powerful symbolic association in the human psyche … and also give me enough ideas to waffle about while you wait for the QuickTime panorama to load!


Photos taken on Easter Sunday, around 2 pm. The relatively low volume of traffic meant that I only had about a dozen artefacts and ghosts (moving objects crossing overlapping photo images) to correct, and the errors that remain are almost invisible at this resolution. For a handheld panorama of a street scene, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

… although the hotspots seem to have shrunk.

8 thoughts on “Cross Roads”

  1. Zin, do you have the QuickTime plugin for your browser. Otherwise, sympathies for the frustration — it took over an hour for me to upload the movie with my lousy connection.

    Mathieu: If you’re patient or bored enough, reloading should bring up one of seven different banners. Thanks for linkup in Flickr.

    Adrian: Now there’s an idea!

  2. Nice… still, it looks so different from when I used to catch the No. 93, 3 3 or 30 bus from there to go home from school…. there is a huge difference! I think some of the buildings have been torn down, in fact where you were standing, there were buildings! The garish yellow was not so much in evidence either.

  3. Thanks for the view of a place I know only too well, but haven’t seen in over 30 yrs! Sadly, it looks more run down than I remember.

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