Kingston, Jamaica

Mapping Urbanization and Social Change

1492 Discovery

Figure 1: Christopher Columbus’s Voyages to the Caribbean from The History of Jamaica.

Kingston, Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 on his second voyage to the New World.  Columbus originally landed on the Northern part of the island which is now St. Anne Parish. They were greeted by a friendly people called the Tianos (who spoke Arawak). They had named the island Xaymaca, which means the “Land of Wood and Water” or the “Land of Springs.” The Spanish altered the name to “La Gamiaca.” They were in pursuit of Gold and used the Tianos to find it.The Spanish established Spanish town as their capital.

Before the English arrived in 1655, the Spanish worked the Tianos into extinction in search of gold and a working them to extremes. The entire race was gone within 50 years of originally landing on the island. William Penn and General Robert Venables took the last Spanish fort in Jamaica and forced them Spanish off the island. The Spanish’s runaway African slaves escaped into to the mountains and became known as the Maroons, the first freed slaves on the island.

Figure 2: A 1793 map showing the early days of the Kingston settlement by Bryan Edwards Esquire.

Figure 3: Legend from the Bryan Edwards Esquire map. 

Map Credits: 

Esquire, Bryan Edwards. [Map] (1794). Map of the Island of Jamaica Divided by Counties and Parishes for the History of the British West Indies. London: I Stockdale.

Black, C. V. B. (1958). History of Jamaica. London: Collins Clear-Type Press.


Clarke, C. G. (2006). Kingston, Jamaica: Urban development and social change, 1692- 2002. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle.

Figueredo, D. H., & Argote-Freyre, F. (2008). A brief history of the Caribbean. New York: Facts on File.


This entry was posted on July 22, 2012 by and tagged , , , , .


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