The Kingston Earthquake of 1907

In 1907, 800 people died in another earthquake known as the 1907 Kingston earthquake, destroying nearly all the historical buildings south of Parade in the city.

That was when a restriction of no more than 60 feet (18 m) was instituted on buildings in the central business district. These three story high buildings were built with reinforced concrete. Construction on King Street in the city was the first area to breach this building code.

The awful devastation caused by the earthquake became more apparent as time passed.

Without a warning the earth began to shake and tremble at 3:30 Monday afternoon. The shock which came from the westward, lasted exactly thirty six seconds. The whole city like a ship in a choppy sea and buildings reeled and fell. Eastward a dense cloud of dust rose and enveloped Kingston in semi-darkness. The shocks were most destructive along the harbor front where entire streets were levelled and crowds of frightened, shrieking people streamed northwards towards the race course, hundred with heads and bodies cut and bruised, streaming with blood. Those who escaped with slight injuries reported that large numbers of persons were buried under the fallen stores and tenements.

As the dust lifted, pillars of smoke arose in Harbor street, near the parish church and soon afterwards flames shot into the sky. It was then perceived that fire would complete the work of the earthquake. In half an hour the flames were spreading from block to block in the business section. The fire department was unable to stay the conflagration, owing to the inadequate supply of water, the earthquake having broken the mains. Fortunately a north east wind confined the conflagration to the southern portion of the city. The fire raged all night and ultimately spent its force Tuesday forenoon.

On 14 January 1907, the capital, Kingston, was severely damaged by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake and following fires that burnt 56 acres of the city. Port Royal, located six miles to the south of Kingston suffered moderate damage.

The rails of street car routes were twisted, water supplies were damaged and a section of the capital's shoreline sank. Damage outside a radius of 1.6 km of Kingston was minimal. The capital, however, suffered badly due to liquefaction of underlying sands and gravels.