These slides of housing and population were taken in Trinidad in 1979. The majority of the population of Trinidad lives in an east-west orientation in the northern part of the island from Port of Spain, the capital, on the western side to Manzanilla Bay on the eastern side. A major highway – the Eastern Main Road, connects most of the cities and towns on this axis. There is now a major freeway that runs the route – the Beetham Highway and the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, which was not there in 1979. The bulk of the population, however, is located in or near Port of Spain.
The photographs were taken in 1979 in Port of Spain, Laventille, and St. Augustine. Those of Port of Spain show commercial buildings and some housing in the central part of the city. The areas covered included Independence Square (actually a collection of blocks that runs west-to-east between Independence Square North and Independence Square East), the downtown Port of Spain area, the area around Woodford Square including the Parliament building (the Red House) and other government buildings up to the Queen’s Savanah, a large park that was once sugar cane fields but is now the largest city park. Interesting features of the buildings include the arcade architecture that is so common in the Caribbean, obviously to protect inhabitants from the intense sun, and the unusual mixtures of land uses in many of the downtown buildings – retail space on the ground floor often with living quarters on the second floor; unusual businesses combined in a single building.
Laventille is a neighborhood of Port of Spain on the eastern side that was predominantly low-income housing at the time of the photographs (apparently, it has become more upscale since then). The residences are a mixture of public housing and squatter shacks. The community has existed since the 19th Century as former slaves, who had escaped, settled there. Steel pan (steel drum) music emerged out of that community and the community has produced a number of community organizers and cultural innovators. The photographs show some of the residences in Laventille, including the public housing that was built by the city, and some of the people.
St. Augustine is a suburban community about 10 miles east of Port of Spain that is connected via the Eastern Main Road. The photos start by showing the hills around the city and the visual prominence of a Benedictine monastery – Mount Saint Benedict. The University of the West Indies has one of its major campuses in St. Augustine. There are photographs showing upscale residential neighborhoods and then a set of photographs of all houses on one particular street (Smart Street). What is interesting is the mixture of income levels shown in adjacent houses, from luxurious multi-story residences to run-down shacks. There are also photographs of rural housing around the St. Augustine area, many of which are for very poor households.
The slides are organized into eight sections:
1. There are 15 photographs of the Independence Square area.
2. There are 4 photographs of the downtown area and some of the buildings in the downtown.
3. There are 10 photographs of the Woodford Square area just north of the downtown with various government buildings.
4. There are 10 photographs of historic residences and the Queen’s Royal College around the Queen’s Park Savanah.
5. There are 18 photographs of people in the downtown area, working, shopping, and resting.
6. There are 14 photographs of Laventille, starting with a political poster sponsored by the trade union headquarters there.
7. The next section is 39 photographs of housing in St. Augustine.
8. The final section is 16 photographs of people on the street in St. Augustine.