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The Town of St. George's - 300 years


Last updated: Saturday, April 24, 2010 8:30 AM

Three hundred years ago, the soggy town of Fort Annunciation, established on the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary in March 1649 by French Settlers from Martinique, sat empty on a spit separating the Lagoon from the rest of a horseshoe harbour. Across the water, the morning sun shone over a new town.

This new town called Fort Royale by the French (and subsequently Fort Royal by the British), was developed around a coastal battery built upon a headland 160 feet above sea level.

The location of this early West Indian town was determined by a source of fresh water (nearby springs), good anchorage plus an area where ships could be easily careened (hence the name Carenage), for cleaning and repair. The sand spit sank sometime during the 1850s. Remains are visible from the premises of the Grenada Yacht Club.

The main emphasis was placed on the fort, as it overlooked the governor's residence, the colonial treasury, court house, legislative building, gaol, customs and warehouses. Around the early 1700s, this settlement expanded. New forts were constructed and the town was laid out on a grid system, with a military square for the soldiers and the militia.

Fort Royal, present day Fort George, was developed into a small bastion square fort with supporting buildings now housing Knox House and the National Museum Complex.

Commercial and residential buildings mushroomed along the waterfront and adjacent Upper Monstrat and Lower Monstrat streets, present day Herbert Blaize and Lucas Streets. The northern boundaries of the town ended at the banks of the St. John's River, the chief landing place for ordnance and stores for the forts at Hospital Hill.

Unearthed pottery shards and remains of a site along the banks of the St. John's River show that indigenous inhabitants, the Amerindian peoples once lived in the surrounding areas of the town including the lagoon.

The establishment of forts and settlements ushered in the beginning of our capital city, and their demise. Fort Louis town comprised a palisade fort with earthen ramparts, a musket proof block house, huts and a large prefabricated wood building brought in from Martinique.

The surrounding are was heavily wooded, but mass erosion brought about by the cutting of trees and land cultivation especially during the rainy season resulted in constant flooding when the lagoon overflowed. This forced the abandonment and relocation of the town in 1700, to the western side of the harbour, its present day site. The seaward side of the street along the water's edge (the Carenage) became lined with warehouses and private wharves. Along the upper side, and on nearby streets were commercial building with living quarters above.

Tradition and the relative high value of land in town led to the practice of commercial-residential buildings, constructed of timber and thatch which led to a series of fires including the devastating Great Fire of 1792.

The town of St. George is described as one of the best examples of traditional Roman concerns, for the protection of the town, harbour and shipping lanes can still be seen. Called 'a city on a hill' this town is surrounded by a number of fortified and defensive positions.

Fort George to the West, Fort St. Jean to the North West, Old Fort (Fort William) or Hospital Hill Redoubts to the the North, to the East, Morne Cardigan, Fort Mathew, Frederick, Lucas and Adolphus; to the South, Monckton Hill Redoubts (Port Louis).

Like other early West Indian cities built on colonial planning, the core of the new town consisted of a monastery, a plaza and several buildings, including the treasury, the gaol, the hospital and the slaughter house. Today those buildings are still the core of the town.

The three churches along Church Street overlook the market square and the Financial Complex. Knox House and the Museum Complex (which housed the gaol) as well as the General Hospital Compound and Point, supported the fort. The slaughter house is the original connected buildings of the abattoir and fish market on Melville Street.

The market square was originally laid out around the first quarter of the 18th century as the parade square for the surrounding forts. It was the place for religious meetings and processions, demonstrations, and political battles. It was also the site of public executions - the night cage and gallows were placed at the east section of the square adjacent to the junction of Granby Street, Grenville Street and Market Hill.

Despite modern day development, the town has retained its charm, its scale and most of its skyline. It is still within its boundaries established between 1700 and 1788 when it was expanded by the legislature for the construction of the military hospital at Richmond Hill (present day Richmond Hill Prison Compound). As a result of this land acquisition, the new southern boundary of the town was moved to its present day position of the Reno Cinema in Tanteen, yards from the first early settlement all those years ago.

Sites

  • Roman Catholic Cathedral built in 1818
  • Anglican Church built in 1825
  • Wharf Road
  • Fort George built by the French in 1705
  • St. Georges fresh produce marketplace
  • Grande Anse beach, shopping centers, hotels
  • Maurice Bishop International Airport (Point(e) Saline)
  • Grenada National Museum
  • Parliament Building, also known as York House, houses the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court
  • Governor General Residence, Government Offices
  • Fort Frederick Fort Complex
  • Queen's Park Stadium Complex, built by the Chinese to host part of the 2007 Cricket World Cup

 

 

SOURCE: The Prettiest Town of the West Indies: St. George, Grenada by George Brizan & Michael Jessamy

 

 

 

 

  • Official Name: Grenada
  • Dependencies: Carriacou & Petite Martinique
  • Area: 3 islands, 133 sq. miles total (344 km2 )
  • Population: 108,132 (UN, 2008.)
  • Capital: St. George's (est. pop. 33,734)
  • Location: 12.07° North 61.40° West
  • Highest Point: Mt. St. Catherine (833 Meters)
  • Time zone: EST+ 1; (GMT - 4:00)
  • Climate: Tropical - avg. temperature of 75ºF (24ºC)
  • International dialing code: +1473
  • Internet domain: .gd
  • Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollars (XCD)
  • Major Languages: English (Official), French patois
  • Nationality: Grenadian
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life Expectancy: 67 years (men), 70 years (women) (UN)
  • GNI per capita: US $4,670 (World Bank, 2007)
  • Current Labour Force: 40% of population
  • Literacy rate: 94%
  • Airport: Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA)
  • Type of State: Constitutional monarchy
  • Head of State: (Queen Elizabeth II) Sir Carlyle Glean
  • Head of Government: Dr. The Right Hon. Keith Mitchell
  • Ruling Party: National Democratic Congress (NDC)
  • Political Structure: 15 Constituencies
  • Elections: Last: July 8, 2008. Next: By Sept 2013
  • Suffrage: Universal at 18
  • National Holiday: 7 February (1974, Independence Day)
  • Constitution: December 19, 1975

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