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January 29, 2011
Star News


The history of Ja's Sunshine City

Contributed-Kennedy Reid (right), author of 'The Story of Portmore, An Illustrated History of Jamaica's Sunshine City', engages W. Billy Heaven (second left), CEO of the CHASE Fund, in conversation while Paulette Mitchell, CHASE project manager, and Alain Williams, project officer, look on.

The community of Portmore located on the southeast coast of Jamaica, and once thought of as a semi-wilderness, a swamp and habitat for wild game, is today referred to as the Sunshine City, now boasting its own municipal charter, a mayor and council to manage its affairs, and lately a publication documenting the history of that community.

Titled The Story of Portmore ... An Illustrated History of Jamaica's Sunshine City, the author Kennedy Reid, a long-time resident of Portmore, spent four years to research and document and an additional two years to produce this publication on the history of the community.

Reid, a computer operations specialists and amateur historian, in his publication, not only documents how the community of Portmore grew from an obscure marshland into a thriving Jamaican city of almost 200,000 people, but also covers 500 years of human activity in the area.

colonial fortification

To give a few examples: It was in Portmore that the English landed to take possession of the island from the Spanish in 1655; in the caves of Portmore can be found pre-Columbian artefacts; located within Portmore's borders is the largest Jamaican colonial fortification and it was in the Portmore area that the major scenes from the most expensive movie every made (up to 1916) were filmed.

The attractive, glossy 300-page document, liberally illustrated with hundreds of rare photographs, first-person accounts and reproductions of artefacts was supported by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund (CHASE) under its arts and culture mandate.

On receiving copies of the publication at the CHASE offices in Kingston recently, W. Billy Heaven, chief executive officer of the CHASE Fund, said: "We are very impressed and pleased to be associated with the work and research that was put into this publication. It will certainly form part of an informative resource base for scholars, and the general public ... nothing should be written about this part of Jamaica without referring to this book."

The Story of Portmore is an addition to other noteworthy publications which were made possible through grants from CHASE and further underscores the organisation's commitment to literary works which enhance national development.

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