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History & Architecture
The Arawaks were probably the first settlers in what is today known as
Grenada, however later, perhaps as early as the 1100s the Caribs arrived
and either drove the Arawaks off the island or intermarried them.
The island was first found by Europeans in 1498 when Christopher
Columbus saw the island. Despite this early "discovery" of the island,
it remained almost untouched by the European powers through the 1500s. In 1609 the
British attempted to settle the island, but the
local Carib people fought this act and destroyed the settlement, leaving it abandoned
in the same year.
Next came the French in 1649 when they created a settlement
in what is today St. George. The French had more luck than the
British as they immediately established relations with the local Carib people
and partitioned the island. This peace was short lived and soon the two sides were
fighting, with the French proving a decisive victory in 1654.
In 1664 French King Louis XIV took the island under the
jurisdiction of the French West India Company. This only lasted until 1674 though,
when the island became an official French colony. Almost immediately from this time
slaves were brought to the island to work the land and by 1700 the slave population
was about twice that of the free population, most of whom were French. These slaves
were brought in to work on sugarcane and indigo plantations. Over time this slowly
shifted to the growth of coffee and cocoa, creating smaller farms and fewer plantations
and much later the economy shifted almost entirely to the growth of nutmeg.
In 1762 the British took control of the island
during the Seven Years' War and the island was officially ceded to the United
Kingdom the following year. The Brits faced numerous challenges on the island almost
immediately with an earthquake and slave uprising taking place within a couple years.
The British rule continued for some time, but with a hiatus from 1779 to 1783 when
the French re-took the island.
In 1795 a slave uprising occurred and almost succeeded, however the
British brought in re-enforcements and destroyed the revolt in 1796; these
battles though killed nearly a quarter of the island's slave population. These
slaves were freed under British law in the early 1800s.
In 1833 Grenada became a part of the Windward Islands
Administration, which is the government under which they lived until 1958; this
was a part of the British government. In 1885
the capital of this administrative region was moved to St. George, helping empower
From the late-1800s to mid-1900s Grenada progressed on
many levels, gaining a representative government and expanding their infrastructure
with new roads, an airport, and expanding communication links. However, their voters
were restricted to those with enough wealth and that meant less than 5% of the population
had the right to vote.
Eventually revolts and protests led to greater voting rights and in 1951 all adults
were allowed to vote, setting in motion the country's later independence. In
1958 the Windward Islands Administration was dissolved so Grenada
fell under the jurisdiction of the Federation of the West Indies. However this organized
fell apart in 1962 and Grenada was given full control over their domestic affairs
and in 1974 they gained full independence.
At first the transition to independence was smooth, however in 1979 a communist-leaning
organization took power in a coup and banned other parties as they aligned with
Cuba. This new government showed little stability and in
1983, after the execution of the country's former leaders, the
United States invaded the island. This quick attack and takeover resulted
in less than 100 deaths and after accomplishing their goals, the United States withdrew
from the island. Since this time the country has remained fairly stable from a political
and economic perspective as tourism has become one of the island's main sources
In 2004 Grenada was hit with a massive hurricane that
destroyed over three quarters of the island's buildings, killing a couple dozen
people. This storm also wiped out much of the island's nutmeg crop, one of the
most consistent income streams the country had. Grenada is still recovering from
The architecture of Grenada is severely limited as no
true buildings exist from the pre-Columbian times. Even the first settlers left
little behind as most early architecture was made from wood or other local resources
that have been lost to time. Today nearly every architectural piece of note is in
the capital of St. George's.
The earliest still standing architecture in St. George's is from the early 1700s
with the building of Fort George (1705). The city was also built at this time, but
many buildings from this time have been lost to fires. Many of the earliest buildings
in the city today date from the late 1700s, generally in the form of small houses.
The French also built the Catholic St. George's Cathedral
(1818), which is a city landmark today.
The British arrived later and continued to build
on the island, and again most of their focus was on the capital of St. George's.
Their most impressive still standing piece of architecture is St. George's Anglican
Church (1825) and is also a landmark.
Although modern building materials and techniques have been brought to
Grenada, the island has not begun to build large skyscrapers or outrageously
unique modern buildings. Most of the country's current buildings are built from
this newer technology, but the people have not yet decided to create buildings that
stand out as extraordinarily unique as the towns maintain a great colonial feel
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