I cover the waterfront

Downtown Kingston ends at the waterfront and the wide expanse of the seventh largest natural harbour in the world. Morris Cargill, veteran journalist at The Daily Gleaner, described it more equivocally as “the world’s most beautiful sewer”, as tons of garbage are washed down the gullies running through the city, straight into the water; and, given that only 20% of households are connected to the sewage system, this second title is not exaggerated. That statistic was enough to put an end to our trips to Fort Clarence and Hellshire, the nearest beaches to Kingston and which lie right by the “mouth” of the harbour, or should that be waste drain?

Dis a pier?
Dis a pier

Years ago, the cruise ships that now stop only in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios on the north coast used to dock right on the Kingston waterfront. It’s a surreal image now, sweaty pink and puffing tourists hopping over the broken pier to arrive bewildered in the baking wasteland opposite the craft market.

The main waterfront street is lined with tall white elephants buildings that house impressive-sounding institutes, such as the National Gallery and the Conference Centre. They were part of an earlier attempt to bring life back to downtown Kingston, which has been only a very limited success. Further attempts to coax government ministries to the area are being resisted tooth and claw by civil servants who fear they will be attacked the moment they step out of the office.


There are also plans to further spruce up the waterfront to create a park and leisure area. I actually had a dream, a while back, of strolling along the boardwalk at dusk, coloured lights strung from the trees, kids running to the merry-go-round, and a band playing (softly!) by the pier. It’s not such an outlandish idea. In the early morning, the walk is very pleasant and unthreatening, although I can’t say what it’s like after dark.

I hope that the QuickTime panorama will have loaded by the time you’ve read my blethers. It’s not as successful a panorama as some of my others because of the emptiness in the middle. If I had scaled up the vertical to give more of a sense of the vast landscape, the details of the fishermen would have been lost.

Oh well.

Be sure to mouse over the hotspots for more information.

[QUICKTIME http://riabacon.com/wp-movie/Kingston_waterfront_05.mov 480 360]

10 thoughts on “I cover the waterfront”

  1. Redevelopment of the harbor seems like the only way to bring back whatever luster was there before. In Barbados The Wharf (including a complete new bridge) was redeveloped. And now it is a wonderful place to go.

    Let us hope the same can happen with your Harbor.

  2. Barbados in Focus is right… This is a possibility, once some of the negating factors can be tackled (crime & violence). The waterfront in Grand Cayman is an irie place as well.

  3. I love the waterfront downtown and was very happy working downtown, I prefer it as a working area to New Kingston! And I make sure that any visitors I have go down there, to the gallery and to wander along the waterfront. Unfrotunately though we can only do it in the day…

  4. Downtown is not that bad especially right along the waterfront. A few blocks in can get really crazy any time of day or night. Schools with combat ready army in them, things like that.

    That being said the water is truly disturbing. Made only more so by the small children and old men swimming or fishing in the harbor. When the ferry used to go to Port Royal from there dozens of pickney would hop on the back to jump of as the ferry got into the harbor. Sometimes foolish onlookers would throw silver into the water for them to dive for. My farther described similar events from his childhood in New York City where kids would dive for money. So maybe it is something kids do around the world.

    I spent a few weeks in downtown planning and running a conference at the Jamaica Conference center. Which is worth a visit for the kitschy late 70’s decor mixed with weird not working UN equipment. The conference center has some very scenic spots in it that are worthy of pictures. The conference went well, with thousands of children and teachers came from through out the island to see what the project I had worked on did for schools.

    After the conference I woke up early the next day to go to the North Coast for another event. On the way we drove through what was obviously a murder scene in New Kingston. After a while you get to know what they look like. Being in Kingston you get to see a poor impersenation of CSI from your car window far too often. It turned out that a group of gunman had murdered police officers and security guards in retaliation for a don being gunned down in Denham Town. The murders occurred in New Kingston, Downtown, and Crossroads. The downtown murder was just in front of the conference center exit where I had been only hours earlier loading equipment.

    Strange thing was this gunman claimed they did this to protect Denham Town. Yet it was the very same children from their Denham Town that were at the conference getting interviewed about what they had accomplished in their schools as part of this conference. Yet all any knew of these kids was the violence to “protect” their community, not the good deeds they had done in their schools. That too me was the essence of my time in Kingston.

  5. ria, you missed a hot spot: the rather dishy fisherman… his TYRE has a hotspot… and he doesn’t! ;) you clever thing you. I’d love to do these panoramics… but I deleted the software and can’t find it again!!!! :(

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Over to you!