Infrastructure + Commerce

In this section, find excerpts and links to The Gleaner's Special Series: Pieces Of The Past authored by Dr. Rebecca Tortello in 2003.  Where applicable, updated information can be found throughout the site.


Money: The Roots Of Jamaican Currency

Like many cultures, the first Jamaicans, the Taino Indians, used the barter system trading commodities for other commodities. Although there was some gold on the island, the Tainos used it for decorative purposes. When the Spanish arrived in the 1490s and began to trade with the Tainos, they tended to use glass beads and other trinkets. By the early 1500s coins were in use on the island. They were… (READ MORE)



The Stamp Of History: The Jamaican Postal Service

In 1663 during the reign of Charles II, Jamaica's Lt. Governor Thomas Lynch was ordered to make arrangements for a post office under the management of the Postmaster General of London. Jamaican residents were anxious over the slow rate of mail delivery. In 1671, Gabriel Martin was appointed Postmaster General of Jamaica and Jamaica chalked up another historical 'first' ­ the first English colony to have a post office. Martin established two… (READ MORE)



Jamaica's Grand Hotels  

Jamaica has provided first class accommodation since the late 1800s. In 1890 the Jamaica Hotels Law was passed to jumpstart the hotel industry. It authorized the government to guarantee the principal plus 3% interest on all debentures issued by hotel companies. This was done in great part to stimulate the staging of Jamaica's Great Exhibition of 1891.  By the late 19th century/early 20th century (prior to the 1907 earthquake) Kingston was… (READ MORE)


In the 1830s Jamaican newspaper history would be made when the deCordova brothers launched The Daily Gleaner. Started at a crucial moment in the island's history, when the era of slavery was coming to an end, the paper grew from an advertising sheet the deCordova brothers used to publicise goods for sale. The first Gleaner, known as The Gleaner and Weekly Compendium of News was printed on… (READ MORE)  


Museums In Jamaica

Some 125 years after the founding of the IOJ, Jamaica's museum landscape has evolved to include a wide range of offerings that present various components of Jamaica's rich cultural heritage….(READ MORE)

The introduction of steamships in the 1830s significantly reduced the time of the journey made by millions of immigrants to America's shores. It also provided greater safety. In the Caribbean, steam vessels meant quicker access to the therapeutic benefits of places like Jamaica. It was the cool, healing air of Jamaica's hills that was marketed, not the sea, sand and sun which is so greatly emphasised today. In the early-mid 1900s(READ MORE)


The Great Exhibition Of 1891   

Despite predictions to the contrary, this Exhibition billed as "the most extraordinary commercial event in the history of the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies," opened on time on January 27, 1891. According to the 1891-1892 Handbook of Jamaica: the light and airy character of the (exhibition) structure with its subdued and harmonious colouring, the rich and in many cases brilliant hues of the exhibits, the glitter of bright metal and glass, and the ever-moving, many coloured dresses of the visitors formed a scene never before witnessed in Jamaica and which… READ MORE)


History Of Aviation In Jamaica: Part I 


The first plane to fly in Jamaican skies was flown by Jesse Seligman, an American aviator, on December 21, 1911, only eight years after the Wright brothers made history with the first plane flight the world had ever seen. Promotions for Seligman's flight spoke of … (READ MORE)


History Of Aviation In Jamaica: Part II 

The Jamaica Aviation Club, formed in 1936 with members J.L Varna, Cecil B. Facey, W. J. Masterton, H.O. Stedman. Leslie Ashenhiem and V.C. Gray, spoke to the growing interest in flying in Jamaica (Bryan, 2003, p. 36).  The first successful flight of a Jamaican-built plane did not occur… (READ MORE) 


For Your Listening Pleasure

Almost everywhere one goes in Jamaica one hears the sounds of music and voices of people expressing their opinions on numerous talk shows. Offices, street corners, restaurants and bars anywhere you find a group of Jamaicans gathered, you will more than likely find a radio  playing.  Radio's relationship with the national psyche began asearly as 1939 when the… (READ MORE)


Jamaican Rum: A Kill-Devil Of A Drink   

The creation of alcoholic beverages from natural foods such as corn, sugar cane, rice, barley, rye and other grains has existed since time immemorial. The English, however, were the first to begin making rum from fermented sugar cane. Indeed, the word rum is first said to have been used in Barbados in the 1620s to describe an intoxicating, rough, unpleasant and overpowering liquor made from sugar cane juice. Although the exact origin of the word rum is not known, it is commonly believed to come from … (READ MORE)


Jamaican Coffee: A Beverage Of Distinction   

Folklore says that in 1723 King Louis XV of France sent three coffee plants to his colony, Martinique. Two of the plants died en route and either the third plant or cuttings from it ended up in Jamaica, brought here in 1728 by former Governor, Sir Nicholas Lawes (1718-22). Lawes first planted coffee at… (READ MORE)