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Kingston | Moon Jamaica

Kingston

Information and Services

Kingston is the heartbeat of Jamaica; it drives the island’s cultural and economic pulse. While Jamaica’s major tourist centers of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril are a surreal world straddling a party paradise inside walled all-inclusive resorts and a meager existence outside, where locals hustle just to get by, Kingston is refreshing for its raw, real character. The capital city is Jamaica’s proud center of business and government and an important transshipment port for Caribbean commerce. The tourist economy, on which the country as a whole is overwhelmingly dependent, takes a back seat in Town, Kingston’s island-wide nickname. This is the Jamaica where the daily hustle to make ends meet gives fodder to an ever-growing cadre of young artists following in the footsteps of reggae legend Bob Marley. As such, Kingston is an essential stop for understanding the cultural richness of this small island. Jamaica’s diverse cultural mosaic is nowhere more boldly revealed than through the country’s art, music, dance, and theater, all of which are concentrated here. Kingston’s vibrant nightlife is a world unto itself with clubs, parties, and stage shows that entertain well into the morning almost any night of the week.

But like any urban setting, Kingston is not without problems, and a negative reputation has plagued the city for decades. Downtown Kingston is at first sight a case study in urban decay. Blocks upon blocks of buildings haven’t seen a paintbrush in years, and many are crumbling and abandoned. The city became known as a breeding ground for political violence in the late 1970s, when neighborhood “dons” were put on the payroll of competing political forces to ensure mass support at election time. Downtown neighborhoods like Allman Town, Arnette Gardens, Rima, Tivoli, Rose Town, and Greenwich Town are still explosive, politicized communities where gunshots are hardly out of the ordinary. Other communities farther out have also gained notoriety, like Riverton City, next to the dump, and Harbour View, at the base of the Palisadoes.

Despite the severity of crime and violence in these areas, Kingston is not to be feared, as even many Jamaican country folk might suggest. With a good dose of common sense and respect, and a feel for the Jamaican runnings, or street smarts, there is little chance of having an altercation of any kind.

St. Andrew parish surrounding Kingston was at one time a rural area dominated by a handful of estates. Since becoming the nation’s capital, however, Kingston has spilled over and engulfed much of the relatively flat land of the parish, its residential neighborhoods creeping ever farther up the sides of the Blue Mountain foothills. At the heart of St. Andrew is the bustling commercial center of Half Way Tree, where shopping plazas butt up against one another, competing for space and customers. There are still unpaved patches of St. Andrew, however, like the expansive Hope Botanical Gardens, the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, and countless well-laid-out properties where it’s easy to imagine the days when the parish was completely rural. Twenty minutes due west of Kingston is Spanish Town, still seemingly sore about losing its preeminence as Jamaica’s capital and business center. Seldom visited by outsiders from Jamaica or abroad, Spanish Town played a central role in the island’s early history as a major population center, first for the Tainos, then for the Spanish, and finally for the British. Each group left its mark, a fact recognized by the United Nations, which has considered the city for World Heritage Site status. The city lies at the heart of St. Catherine, a parish whose moment of glory has sadly passed in a very tangible sense. Neglect and urban blight permeate Spanish Town. Nevertheless, it’s littered with fascinating heritage sites and has a beautiful square, a few notable churches, memorials, and glimpses of bygone glory. It is a convenient stop on most routes out of Kingston to destinations across the island.

Together the parishes surrounding the greater metropolitan area are home to about 43 percent of the island’s 2.8 million residents. Perhaps to a greater extent than in some other developing countries, poverty and wealth share an abrasive coexistence in Jamaica, especially in Kingston. This inevitably leads to widespread begging and insistent windshield-washers at stoplights. Apart from these regular encounters, Kingston is relatively hassle-free compared with other urban centers on the island, where hustlers tend to be more focused on the tourist trade and are visibly aggressive in their search for a dollar. Kingston is one of the few places in Jamaica where visitors with a light complexion can seemingly blend into the normal fabric of society. Kingstonians have other things occupying their attention, and visitors go almost unnoticed.

Extras

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Car rental

Airport Lounges

  

 

Western Union

Western Union has offices all over the island.

In: Information and Services

First Caribbean Bank

First Caribbean has branches with ATMs in  ., tel. 876 929-9310),  ., 876 922-6120), two in  ., tel. 876 926-7400;  , tel. 876 926-1313), in  ., tel. 876 977-2595), and in Manor Park (Manor Park Plaza, tel. 876 969-2708).

In: Information and Services

RBTT

RBTT has branches with ATMs all over Kingston. 

In: Information and Services

Supercleaners Dry Cleaners & Launderers

Supercleaners Dry Cleaners & Launderers (7 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) has a plant Downtown behind Sabina Cricket Grounds, where the drop-off service can get your clothes back the same day.

In: Information and Services

NCB

NCB has branches with ATMs at the following locations: Downtown (37 Duke St., tel. 876/922-6710), Cross Roads (90–94 Slipe Rd., tel. 876/926-7420), New Kingston (32 Trafalgar Rd., tel. 876/929-9050), and Half Way Tree (Half Way Tree Rd., tel. 876/920-8313).

In: Information and Services

Bogues Brothers laundry facilities

Bogues Brothers runs three laundry facilities in Kingston: Spic ‘n’ Span (26 Lady Musgrave Rd., on corner of Trafalgar, tel. 876/978-7711, 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.), Molynes Fabricare (55 Molynes, tel. 876/923-4234), and Liguanea Fabricare (144 Old Hope Rd., tel. 876/977-4900). All have dry cleaning, drop-off laundry service, and self-service.

In: Information and Services

Anchor Studios

Anchor Studios  run by Gussie Clarke, has reel-to-reel as well as Pro Tools. Rates are US$215 and US$260 per hour, respectively.

In: Information and Services

Jamaica Orchid Society

The Jamaica Orchid Society is the island's leading (perhaps only) organization dedicated to the cultivation and appreciation of orchids. It holds an impressive annual Spring Orchid Show the last weekend in March (9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.) at the orchid house at Hope Gardens or the grounds of the Jamaica Horticultural Society (intersection of Gibson Drive and Gibson Close in Hope Pastures), or another venue, as the case may be.

In: Local Societies and Organizations

Georgian Society of Jamaica

The Georgian Society of Jamaica  is a private society dedicated to the appreciation of Jamaica’s architectural heritage from the Georgian period, and to the restoration and preservation of Georgian buildings. Geoffrey Pinto is the society’s founder. The society has a list of public and private buildings its members tour on their outings, scheduled every few months. Richmond Park Great House is now headquarters for Xerox Jamaica.

In: Local Societies and Organizations

Andrews Memorial Hospital Pharmacy

Andrews Memorial Hospital Pharmacy (open 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Friday, closed Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sunday.

In: Information and Services