Downtown Jamaica
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Downtown Jamaica

Downtown Jamaica's Heartbeat

Half way up from the Jamaican waterfront is the Kingston parade, a large square used as a parade ground by British troops in the 18th century as well the site for grisly Jamaican public floggings and hangings. The centre of the Jamaican parade is the shady, statue-filled area, William Grant Park. Today, following a massive facelift in the 1980s, the Jamaican downtown parade is one of the most vibrant spots in Jamaican down town – Jamaican music blares from Jamaican ghetto blasters, traffic screeches, Jamaican vendors hawk their baubles and queues for taxis and buses spill onto the road.

North of the Jamaican park is the elegant sky-blue wedding cake building of the Jamaican Ward Theatre, a magnet for thespians since the 18th century and home to the annual Jamaican pantomine as well as seasonal spectacles; feel free to nose around the inside. To the west, stretching three blocks from the Jamaican Parade, is the crowded, colorful and cacophonous Jamaican Jubilee Market also known as Jamaican Solas Market. It inspired the famous Jamaican folksong, "Come we go down a Solas Market; come we go buy banana." Further west of the Jamaican parade are the ghetto areas known as the yards, where hard hitting wall murals act as territorial markers. The region is a no go for Jamaican tourists - even Jamaicans from neighboring areas think twice before entering the opposition's turf.

Kingston, Jamaica  has many handsome old Jamaican churches, but one of the most impressive is the octagonal St Andrew Scots Kirk, built in the Georgian manner by a group of prominent Scottish merchants who came to Jamaica , and surrounded by a gallery supported by Corinthian pillars. Upon completion, it was dubbed the handsomest building in Kingston, Jamaica. Two blocks west of East Street is Jamaica’s Headquarters House, a trim little Jamaican townhouse once known as Hibbert House, but now home to the Jamaican National Heritage Trust, which has its offices in the former bedrooms. You can explore the rest of the building; the debating chamber is on the ground floor, still furnished with original furniture and impressive portraits of Jamaican heroes, and the basement has some offbeat relics and a mish-mash of art collectables. Gordon House is where Jamaica's parliament resides. The Jamaican House of Representatives meets here most Tuesdays at 2pm, and the Jamaican Senate sits in chamber on Fridays at 11am. Entrance to the public Jamaican galleries, for a glimpse of how Jamaica conducts business, is free.

Along North Street and you reach the imposing domed Holy Trinity Cathedral, Jamaica's centre of Catholicism. The Jamaica Gleaner Building at the junction of North and East streets, is home to Jamaica's premier newspapers, the Daily and Sunday Gleaner. Uptown Kingston Jamaica is the district north of Cross Roads - is where the commercial sprawl of Jamaican hotels, Jamaican banks, Jamaican embassies and offices meets the residential areas of Hope, Mona, and Beverly Hills. Centuries ago, Jamaica uptown was mostly rural, save the odd Jamaican sugar estate or livestock farm. But Jamaica’s wealthy merchants soon bought up the land seeing in it a chance to escape the noise and bustle of the Jamaican waterfront area. The process continues, and you will be able to spot newer, more fashionable residential quarters as far north as the foothills of the Jamaican Blue Mountains.

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