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Emancipation Park Kingston, Jamaica

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Visitors at the Emancipation Park Kingston, Jamaica | (Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner)Visitors at the Emancipation Park Kingston, Jamaica | (Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner)

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Emancipation Park, a unique jewel in the centre of Kingston city, is a haven for many who seek peace and a relaxing atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.


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It's a sanctuary where you can rejuvenate among the lush seven-acre landscape that represents the famous beauty of Jamaica. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the splendour of the Park, which is bordered by tropical flowers and trees such as the towering Royal Palm, with its branches calling to the skies.

History of Emancipation Park

Emancipation Park Kingston Jamaica | Redemption Song StatueEmancipation Park Kingston Jamaica | Redemption Song Statue

Before delving into the history of Emancipation Park, it is necessary to first examine the history of the Liguanea Plain in St. Andrew, on which the Park presently rests.

Following the terrible earthquake in Port Royal in 1692, some English settlers discovered the immense significance of the Liguanea Plain in St. Andrew.

Following the earthquake, Colonel Beeston, a wealthy sugar plantation owner, sold 2,000 acres of plain land to the British colonial administration for the redevelopment of Kingston. Port Royal had formerly been the hub of Jamaica's thriving commercial activity.

During the post-emancipation period and the demise of the sugar estates, thousands of Jamaicans from rural areas, as well as immigrants from China, Lebanon, Syria, and India, moved to Kingston in quest of better working conditions and commercial prospects.

As Kingston's population grew, many merchants who had previously resided above their shop locations in central Kingston relocated to the upper rings of the Liguanea Plain, which are now known as "uptown".

The earthquake of 1907 stimulated even more migration from Downtown Kingston to St. Andrew, resulting in Kingston being separated into two parishes (Kingston and St. Andrew) as a result of its massive expansion. As the business operations and people from the "upper crust of society" relocated to St. Andrew, there was a greater need for social and sporting activities uptown.

This major shift saw the development of 85 acres of land, including the long stretch of

ground from Knutsford Boulevard to Oxford Road, as the Knutsford Park Race Course, which hosted horseracing and polo competitions. The racecourse was eventually purchased by a group of investors who saw this location as a "city built within a city," hence the name New Kingston.

The Liguanea Club, a recreational and social club for society's upper classes, located on Knutsford Boulevard, held about 35 acres of land, including the previous Liguanea Park, which is now Emancipation Park. The Club donated seven acres of land to the Jamaican government.

Several government officials claimed that the property should be turned into a business zone, while others thought it should be turned into a multi-functional entertainment complex. The substantial financial investment required for either initiative was not forthcoming.

Development of Emancipation Park Kingston, Jamaica

Emancipation Park KingstonEmancipation Park Kingston

Liguanea Park had been dusty and desolate for decades, devoid of any charm or character. It was essentially a wide open stretch of land where many six-a-side football matches were played and Jamaica Carnival revellers could be seen gyrating to the captivating sound of the soca rhythm before the big road march in April.

The NHT Board of Directors, in collaboration with former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable PJ Patterson, envisioned a city park where Jamaicans and visitors alike might relax and play. This, however, would not be any ordinary park; rather, it would be a work of art.

The project team was given a three-month deadline to complete the project and make the idea of constructing a beautiful park a reality. Architect Kamau Kambui sought to develop the Park with an impact of Afro-centric designs, resulting in the substantial presence of Adinkra symbols from West Africa being sited throughout the Park.

According to Kambui, these symbols, along with the numerous water features, will serve to awaken Jamaicans' spirits and let them reconnect with their rich African past.

The Park's main entrance, located at the intersection of Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard, was deliberately meant to reflect "the birth journey and the process of returning to our roots," according to Kambui.

The Park's professionally created 500m running track has captivated runners and other fitness enthusiasts who begin their daily training practice as early as 5 a.m. every day. It was dedicated on July 31, 2002, to commemorate Emancipation Day, which is observed on August 1 each year.

Emancipation Park has welcomed hundreds of visitors of all ages every day since its inception. It's ideal for a family picnic or a day out with that particular someone.

Things you will find at the Emancipation Park Kingston, Jamaica

  • Beautiful flowers and trees - Blue Mahoe Hibiscus Elatus, Lignum Vitae Guaiacum Officale (Tree of Life), Ixora Ixora Coccinea (Otherwise called Flame of the Woods, Jungle Flame or Jungle Geranium), Lantana Lantana Camara, Rose Rosa, Royal Palm Roystonea regia, Bull Tatch Palm Sabal Palmetto, Poor Man's Orchid Bauhinia puprurea, Poinciana Delonix Regia, Yellow Poui Tree Telebuia Serratifolia.

  • Redemption Song 11ft bronze sculpture - located near the Park's main entrance on Knutsford Boulevard and Oxford Road This notable sculpture features two naked black male and female statues gazing to the skies, symbolizing their triumphant ascent from slavery's horrors.

  • Water Features - Water represents purity, regeneration, and calm. In keeping with these characteristics, water elements are an important part of the Park's design. In the Park, there are three water fountains. Each fountain reflects a stage in the Jamaican people's journey from the inception of slavery in the late 17th century through Emancipation in 1838.

  • Stone Work - Decorative limestone has been widely used on the walls of Emancipation Park, including the restrooms, maintenance building, and main office, as a tribute to the craftsmanship of our forebears.
    The perimeter fence is similarly made of limestone. The majority of the stone for the Park (100 cubic meters of limestone) came from Haddo, Westmoreland. Approximately 60% of the Park is landscape, while the remaining 40% is hard surface paved with sturdy locally built red bricks.

  • Picnic Spots - The gardens at Emancipation Park are ideal for a family picnic or a heart-to-heart with that particular someone. Jenna Blackwood, the landscape architect, incorporated various tropical trees and plants, particularly around the area surrounding the tiled multi-purpose stage.

  • Andrika symbols - Many of the slaves brought to Jamaica originated from West Africa, so the architect, Kamau Kambui, believed it appropriate to pay honour to our forefathers by including West African Adinkra motifs in the Park's design. These emblems can be found throughout the Park, including the perimeter fence, the entrance walls, benches, and garbage cans.
    The Adinkra symbols were created by Asante (Ashanti) artisans in Ghana, West Africa. They represent nonverbal communicative and aesthetic ideals, as well as the way of life of the designers. Images of humans, animals, plants, and objects are included in the symbols.

  • Futumfrafo: Two-headed crocodiles or “two mouths that feed one stomach” - This represents the unity of the human family, despite cultural diversity. It is very similar to the wording of the Jamaican Coat of Arms' motto, "Out of Many One People".
  • Wafa Aba: Seed of the Wafa tree - Because the seed of the Wafa tree is exceedingly hard, it is a symbol of hardiness, tenacity, and perseverance. It is a sign of strength and toughness, and hence represents the Jamaican people's strength and perseverance.

  • Eban Fence - This is a symbol of love, security, and safety. In West African culture, a house with a fence surrounding it is said to make the family who lives there feel more secure. This emblem reflects the fact that liberated slaves felt a sense of security knowing that they could now be with their families and would no longer be separated from one another.

Park Rules At Emancipation Park Kingston

Planning a visit to the park? Here are some park rules that should be followed.

  1. No destruction, defacement or removal of any Park property
  2. No littering.
  3. No vending.
  4. No gambling.
  5. No weapons or other dangerous substances
  6. No alcoholic beverages
  7. No bicycles, bikes or any other motorized traffic
  8. No animals on the compound
  9. No disorderly conduct or excessive noise
  10. No sporting activity without prior permission from the Park's management
  11. No commercial photography/videography without prior permission from the Park's management.
  12. Baby strollers are allowed on the jogging track on Mondays to Saturdays between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. Baby strollers on the jogging track outside of these hours are strictly prohibited.
Emancipation Park Kingston - Aerial View | (Photo Credit: emancipationpark.org.jm)Emancipation Park Kingston - Aerial View | (Photo Credit: emancipationpark.org.jm)

Contact Information For The Emancipation Park Kingston Jamaica

  • Address: Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica, West Indies
  • Telephone: 1 (876) 926-6312, 1 (876) 968-9292
  • Fax: 1(876) 926-1092
  • E-mail: emanpark@cwjamaica.com

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References & Sources For Emancipation Park Kingston Jamaica

  1. Emancipation Park Kingston, http://www.emancipationpark.org.jm/

Emancipation Park Kingston, Jamaica | Written: August 15th, 2022

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