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Port-of-spain History, Trinidad And Tobago

Port-of-Spain History – Early Settlement and Function

The foundation of Port-of-Spain is connected to an Amerindian fishing village that used to lay on the contemporary city premises. The Spaniards came here in 1560 and established the “Puerto de los Hispanloes”, slowly starting to erect their own settlements. These were built during the 16th and 17th centuries and had the form of mud-plastered ajoupas, placed between large silk cotton trees that used to dominate the area. They also built a fort that was defended by a few Spanish soldiers but the populations used to travel a lot, reason for which a French naval commander that arrived there in 1680 didn’t report the existence of the settlement. An important year in the development of the city remains 1757, when the former capital couldn’t cope with all the responsibilities so all administrative functions were moved to Port-of-Spain and serious investment was made for it to work properly as the new capital. In 1783, French Catholics were encouraged to come on the island, so Port-of-Spain history met another chapter seeing a rapid increase in population and started developing faster and faster.

Port-of-Spain History – City Development and the British Invasion

What followed were efforts to develop a coherent plan for the aspect and function of the city. St. Ann’s River was one of the main impediments because of its frequent flooding, so its course was diverted and a channel was built and consolidated in decades of hard labor. Still, the city could now develop northwards and westwards without impediment, which meant an important boom both in the number of people and in the living standards. Still, when the territory was invaded by the British in 1797, it didn’t have sufficient forces to defend itself, so it had to negotiate its position so it could still remain capital. It did so through its Governor, Cachon, and after renaming most of the streets, the British decided to keep the one that was named after him, in honor of what he did for Port-of-Spain’s history.

Port-of-Spain History – Population Growth and Migration

Port-of-Spain continued reclaiming land from the sea and started growing southwards, as it wasn’t as fortunate as Bridgetown or Caracas. Dredged material from some areas was carried in others and so the city started looking more and more as it does today. The population peak of the city was reached in the 1960s, when it had almost 100.000 inhabitants. Since then the downtown area has specialized in business and commerce, so most of the population headed towards the suburbs, comprising a constantly growing metropolitan area, which now reaches more than 600.000 inhabitants.

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