Downtown – The HeartBeat of Kingston: A Guest Blog Post by Darine BenAmara


Darine BenAmara is a French woman, who is currently working in the downtown Kingston area. She describes herself as “passionate about international relations, international development and feminism.” She authors a great blog (http://easypoli.com) which breaks down complicated issues in more digestible and understandable ways, through short articles and YouTube videos. Here is a guest post by her, with her beautiful photos – showing her growing appreciation for downtown Kingston. The captions are mine.

The statue of Sir Alexander Bustamante at Parade, downtown Kingston.
The statue of Sir Alexander Bustamante at Parade, downtown Kingston.

Downtown Kingston makes the headlines on many occasions. The neighbourhood is sadly best known for being the theatre of violence, a place plagued with many socio-economic issues that have led to the near abandon of the area. Once a thriving neighbourhood, the demise of downtown Kingston is the result of political corruption and criminal activity. This led to corporate abandon, reinforcing negative social issues and accelerating the misfortunes of the community. As a result, for decades downtown Kingston has been home to many of the city’s undesirable inner-city communities and gangs.

Kingston street vendors.
Kingston street vendors.

As a foreigner, people will strongly advise you not to venture into the area. And guess what? That’s where my office is located – not just downtown, but on the waterfront no less. Having your office on the waterfront, can you imagine! It sounds ideal, but I am not going to lie, I was very skeptical and concerned about my safety when I began working there. During the first few weeks, I took a cab that dropped me off and picked me up at the office door each day. I did my very best to avoid walking in the streets of downtown Kingston. However, I was always looking by the window, watching people come and go, curious to see how life was moving around in such an area. I could feel the vibrance of the streets, hear the music and the people bargaining, and see the youth playing and dancing.

The historic Ward Theatre (currently in a state of disrepair).
The historic Ward Theatre, which has seen better days.

So one day, I decided that walking along downtown’s streets would be my daily routine. The busy streets, lined with many historic buildings and monuments are breathtaking. There is a wealth of historic sights, and downtown is also a bustling business district with busy roadways and crowded sidewalks. Once again, I’m fascinated by the true beauty and strength of Jamaicans, making the most of their days, always smiling regardless their condition.

The Coke Methodist Church was named after Dr. Thomas Coke, founder of the Methodist Missions in the West Indies. It was built in 1840 on the site of the first Methodist Chapel built in Jamaica. This Church was severely damaged in the 1907 earthquake and then rebuilt.
The Coke Methodist Church was named after Dr. Thomas Coke, founder of the Methodist Missions in the West Indies. It was built in 1840 on the site of the first Methodist Chapel built in Jamaica. This Church was severely damaged in the 1907 earthquake and then rebuilt.

Downtown is the heartbeat of Kingston. The buildings mark the vestige of a properous economy and still preserve the testimony of the country’s rich past. The situation is not gleaming for the people living there but they hope and work for a stronger and better tomorrow.

Jamaican Proverb – “Hungry mek monkey blow fire” (People are forced to become innovative and resourceful under harsh conditions).


2 thoughts on “Downtown – The HeartBeat of Kingston: A Guest Blog Post by Darine BenAmara

  1. Lovely! Downtown has so much potential. There are plans to revive it. I do hope they will soon come to fruition. Digicel has started and in a recent blog I posted I mentioned Marriott’s investment. Other small business owners are investing too, if the people get on board it will happen. Janeen

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    1. Hi Janeen! Yes, it really does have huge potential – both in terms of restoring some of its wonderful old buildings, and in terms of total renewal – new and exciting architecture perhaps. Like you, I am hopeful. I am enjoying your blog, and thanks for following me! Best, Emma

      Liked by 1 person

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