A BRIEF HISTORY OF MONTEGO BAY
Montego Bay is the second city of Jamaica, and the capital of the parish of St. James, which lies on the northwest coast of the island. "MoBay" (as it is affectionately called by the locals) is a popular tourist site and is visited by thousands of visitors from around the world annually.
The Spanish came to Montego Bay after 1510 and settled in the Bay which they called ‘Bahia de Mantega’ in honour of the huge quantities of pigs’ lard they exported from Montego Bay to their other colonies in South America and other West Indian islands. It was after the British occupation of Jamaica in 1655 that St. James was included in the second group of Parishes that was started in 1671.
Tourists didn’t start coming in to Montego until early in the 1920s; they came in search some said, of the Garden of Eden located near the azure waters of the Caribbean. Tourists were also lured by was purported to be the curative powers of the waters found in Doctor’s Cave Beach. These lures, and the many other attractions created by locals and foreign investors have all made Montego Bay the world-class destination it is today.
Montego Bay is known for port facilities, second homes for numerous Jamaicans from Kingston as well as North Americans and Europeans; its large general hospital (Cornwall Regional Hospital), fine restaurants, and shopping opportunities. The architecture is a mixture of last-century "gingerbread" wooden houses interspersed with modern buildings. Among the most famous places in Montego Bay are the Rose Hall Great House and Half Moon Hotel, both of which feature magnificent world-class golf courses.
There is the "hotel area" which is the mile-and-a-half strip running from the town, past the celebrated Doctor's Cave Beach and out to the Dead End Bar. There are also the outlying hotels and villas situated either on the beachfront or the hillside. Lively and colourful citizens populate the streets of the City of Montego Bay while armers from the rural areas crowd into the fruit and vegetable markets, to sell their produce. Hotel and cruise ship visitors are encouraged to spend relaxing hours in the craft market and in-bond stores purchasing high-end jewellery, perfume, clothing and object d’art from Jamaica and around the world.
The infrastructure of the city is currently going through a series of innovative modernizations, which once completed, aims to keep Montego Bay at the top of destination throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world. One of the most exciting of the building renaissance, is the Montego Bay Convention Centre, built on a large site near to the Rose Hall estate, this magnificent complex was opened in January of this year.
Sam Sharpe Square (names for National Hero Sam Sharpe a slave who became a highly educated freedom-fighter) is a pleasant cobble stoned hub of activity, and is roughly the centre of the town. In the Square is also home for “the Cage”, formerly a jail for runaway slaves, and the ruins of the Courthouse, built in 1804 but which was destroyed by fire some 20 years ago.
“The Hip Strip” is the name given to a section of Montego Bay’s Gloucester Avenue home of Margueritaville, which is a must for most visitors to the city wanting to soak up some of the Jimmy Buffett tropical vibes and famous waterslides and aquatic play areas. There are many other bars, clubs, restaurants and casinos worthy of a visit. Along the Hip Strip.
Montego Bay is well served by buses, mini buses, tour buses and taxis, which operate throughout the city but mainly from the Montego Bay Transport Centre.
Montego Bay is also served by Jamaica's largest airport, the Sir Donald Sangster International Airport. Air Jamaica/Caribbean Airline and several North American and European airlines run their Caribbean hub from "MoBay", connecting the island with the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. The southern U.S. city of Miami can be reached within 70 minutes. The southern U.S. cities of Charlotte, Atlanta and Tampa can be reached by nonstop flights in less than three hours. Other locations like Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Washington DC and Chicago can be reached in under four hours.
Source: various websites
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