Jamaica at 60 St Ann

NAME OF FEATURE | THE GLEANER | MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2022 11 Paul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer FROM THE sea, the land rises gently to heights where the sea itself can be seen. It was teeming with Tainos when Columbus returned to Jamaica in 1503 on his fourth trip to the West Indies. It is said that he called the place Santa Gloria, where he was stranded for one full year. His living conditions were gross and unbearable. Eventually, with the assistance of Taino paddlers, Columbus and two of his crewmen fled to Hispaniola, en route to Spain. In 1510, his son, Diego, returned to the island with the first group of Spanish colonists. Near St Ann’s Bay, they established the first Spanish settlement in the country and called it Sevilla la Nueva (New Seville). The central point of Spanish colonisation in Jamaica shifted to Spanish Town after the Spaniards found the swampy conditions at New Seville unhealthy. However, Sevilla la Nueva remained a major Spanish settlement. The Spaniards lost control of the island between 1655 and 1670, to the British. Over time, Santa Gloria evolved into St Ann’s Bay, a little fishing village but a major commercial port. Remnants of colonial-days warehouses are still located near the sea. Today, St Ann’s Bay, perched on the side of a steep mountain, is an old town, one of the oldest in Jamaica. Infrastructurally, it has not grown significantly. It still has centuries-old buildings, but does not exude Old World charm. Narrow and oft-congested streets are prone to traffic gridlocks, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. In the evenings, it goes to sleep and, in the day, it is bustling and sizzling under the sun. It is in dire need of expansion, and is now playing second fiddle to the tourist mecca of Ocho Rios as the most popular town in the parish. Yet, it is still the seat of the parochial government, and overshadows all other towns in the parish with its historical value. It was the first place where Europeans lived in Jamaica, outlasted Sevilla la Nueva, has moved from an idyllic fishing valley to capital status, and is the birthplace of Jamaica’s first national hero, Marcus Garvey, who lived at Winders Hill. Historic St Ann’s Bay A section of a congested street in St Ann’s Bay. One of the colonial warehouses that are still standing in St Ann’s Bay. PHOTOS BY PAUL WILLIAMS The gothic-looking St Ann’s Bay Parish Church building. The St Ann’s Bay Police Station. The St Ann’s Bay court building is dated 1866. jamaica at JAMAICA AT 60: ST ANN