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History of Independence Square.
« on: July 08, 2012, 11:41:46 PM »
LONG TIME DAYS: Marine Square decades ago.

By Louis B Homer

Story Created: Jul 8, 2012 at 11:59 PM ECT

Story Updated: Jul 8, 2012 at 11:59 PM ECT

Independence Square is an outdoor museum with century old relicts, monuments, and bits and pieces of our history from Spanish colonisation to our independence.

The Spaniards named it Plaza De La Marine, but after the conquest of Trinidad by the English in 1797 it was renamed Marine Square.

When Trinidad became independent in 1962 the name was changed to Independence Square, and the central east-west strip was later named Brian Lara Promenade, in honour of star batsman Brian Lara.

The Spaniards had used it for military parades, the English for the expansion of trade and commerce, and since 1970 it became a place for relaxation.

During the day it is the busiest section of the city, but as the sun sets and night descends upon the city, some areas become a home for street dwellers.

From the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, on the eastern end, to the intersection on Wrightson Road, there are several monuments of historical interest.

For many years it has been home of the imposing bust of 19th century labour leader Arthur Andrew Cipriani, an early advocate for independence, and more recently a bust Lara, the "Prince of Port of Spain".

Cipriani had put himself forward as a champion of the people. Possessed with great leadership qualities, he inspired love and loyalty, and his honesty, sincerity and generosity was obvious to all. Those qualities aptly qualify him to occupy a place of pride in the Square.

Close to Cipriani's monument, at the base of Frederick Street, there used to be a water fountain which was erected in 1880. Now it serves as a concrete traffic warden that regulates the flow of traffic leading to many parts of the city.

The Ice House Taxi Stand is still there, providing a useful service to visitors.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral at the eastern extremity of the square has been there since 1832.

The original street signage at the corner of Abercromby Street and the square is still there, as well as the metal hooks used for 'tying up' horses during the horse and buggy era, are still attached to the wall of a commercial building on Abercromby Street.

Over the years the square played a major role in the development of the city. In earlier times it was as the centre of commerce, and an early home of Sir Thomas Picton, the second English governor of Trinidad. During his tenure he had built a home there to oversee activities in the town centre.

The notorious Picton had also erected a wooden gallows on the lawn of Government House on Marine Square, to intimidate law breakers. But after a series of complaints to the British government concerning his ruthlessness he was recalled to England and sent to the Battle of Waterloo where he died. One of the cruel acts performed by Picton was the torturing of a young teenaged girl for her to confess to a crime she did not commit.

When slavery was abolished in 1834 the old Treasury Building on the northern side of the square was used by former governor George Hill to make the appropriate announcement. It was also the building that housed the first Central Bank before it moved into its current premises at the Eric Williams Financial Complex.

Long before it was used for Carnival parades, the organisers of the Hosay festival were allowed to march in processions from Coolie Town (later renamed St James) to the square, beating their tassa drums and exhibiting the beauty of their tadjas.

As the square became the main thoroughfare of the town, commercial buildings eventually lined both sides. One of the early business families to occupy space at the square was the Siegerts. They had started manufacturing the famous Angostura Aromatic Bitters after they fled from Venezuela's unsettled political situation in 1885.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has its own peculiar history. On March 24, 1816 the foundation was laid and on that date the government gave to the church 16,000 pounds sterling towards its construction.

During that period commercial quarrying was carried out at Laventille. Large "blue stones" were extracted from the quarry to construct the walls of the cathedral while the metal framed doors and windows were imported from England.

This Gothic building was completed at a cost of 35,000 pounds sterling. On completion it was consecrated in 1851, and the Vatican elevated it to a minor basilica with the appointment of an archbishop to look after the affairs of the archdiocese.

The square was the early home of the Syrian/ Lebanese communities when they started to arrive in Trinidad during the early 20th century. They were fleeing from the harsh religious and political persecution of the Turks who had conquered their lands. The original number of these immigrants was small but it grew larger when a confrontation erupted between a Muslim religious sect and the Christian Maronites.

Annette Rahael, a third generation Syrian living in Trinidad explained, "when the early settlers arrived and saw the cathedral on Marine Square they immediately claimed it as the House of God and adopted Catholicism as their religious affiliation, since there were no churches in Trinidad celebrating the liturgy of the Antiochan Orthodox religion which they had practised in their country".

As the square continued to be the hub of business, more and larger buildings were erected on both sides. The old wooden buildings were replaced with concrete structures.

In 1961, the Salvatori building at the corner of Independence Square and Frederick Street was erected by Williams and Williams, architects and builders. The building was owned by Salvatori Scott and Company. At one time it was the tallest building in the city. It was dismantled in 2006.

Independence Square is expected to play a significant role during the 50th anniversary celebration of our Independence on August 31.

Offline E-man

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Re: History of Independence Square.
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 10:54:46 PM »

Offline Sando prince

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Re: History of Independence Square.
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2014, 02:32:12 PM »
nice one dey  :beermug: A lot of history to be learned