Nassau on New Providence

Friday, 1 October 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  9 minutes

Nassau welcome gateway © BrokenSphere/cc-by-3.0

Nassau welcome gateway © BrokenSphere/cc-by-3.0

Nassau is the capital and largest city of The Bahamas. With a population of 274,400 as of 2016, or just over 70% of the entire population of The Bahamas (≈391,000), Nassau is commonly defined as a primate city, dwarfing all other towns in the country. It is the centre of commerce, education, law, administration, and media of the country. Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for the Bahamas, is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of the city centre of Nassau, and has daily flights to major cities in Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and the United States. The city is located on the island of , which functions much like a business district. Nassau is the site of the House of Assembly and various judicial departments and was considered historically to be a stronghold of pirates. The city was named in honour of William III of England, Prince of Orange-Nassau.

Nassau’s modern growth began in the late eighteenth century, with the influx of thousands of Loyalists and their slaves to the Bahamas following the American War of Independence. Many of them settled in Nassau (then and still the commerce capital of the Bahamas) and eventually came to outnumber the original inhabitants. As the population of Nassau grew, so did its populated areas. Today the city dominates the entire island and its satellite, Paradise Island. However, until the post-Second World War era, the outer suburbs scarcely existed. Most of New Providence was uncultivated bush until Loyalists were resettled there following the American Revolutionary War; they established several plantations, such as Clifton and Tusculum. Slaves were imported as labour. After the British abolished the international slave trade in 1807, they resettled thousands of Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy on New Providence (at Adelaide Village and Gambier Village), along with other islands such as Grand Bahama, Exuma, Abaco and Inagua. In addition, slaves freed from American ships, such as the Creole case in 1841, were allowed to settle there. The largest concentration of Africans historically lived in the “Over-the-Hill” suburbs of Grants Town and Bain Town to the south of the city of Nassau, while most of the inhabitants of European descent lived on the island’s northern coastal ridges.

Located on New Providence Island, Nassau’s harbour has a blend of old world and colonial architecture, and a busy port. The tropical climate and natural environment of the Bahamas have made Nassau an attractive tourist destination. Nassau developed directly behind the port area. New Providence provides 200 km² of relatively flat and low-lying land intersected by low ridges (none of which restricted settlement). In the centre of the island there are several shallow lakes that are tidally connected. The city’s proximity to the United States (290 km east-southeast of Miami, Florida) has contributed to its popularity as a holiday resort, especially after the United States imposed a ban on travel to Cuba in 1963. The Atlantis resort on nearby Paradise Island accounts for more tourist arrivals to the city than any other hotel property of Nassau. The mega-resort employs over 6,000 Bahamians, and is the largest employer outside government.

During the 19th century, Nassau became urbanized, attracting rural residents. Growth since the 1950s has been outwards from the town. The 1788 heart of Nassau was just a few blocks of buildings between Government House and the harbour, but the town gradually expanded east to Malcolm’s Park, south to Wulff Road, and west to Nassau Street. Grants Town and Bain Town south of the city became the main residential areas for those of African descent, and until about 30 years ago was the most populous part of the city. Those of European descent built houses along the shore, east as far as Fort Montagu, west as far as Saunders Beach, and along the ridge edging the city. During the 20th century, the city spread east to Village Road and west to Fort Charlotte and Oakes Field. This semicircle of residential development was the main area of settlement until after the Second World War, and marks a distinct phase in the city’s expansion, the outer boundary to this zone being the effective limit of the continuous built-up area. The wealthier residents continued to spread east (to East End Point) and West (to Lyford Cay). In the last 40 years, residential development has been quite different. It has consisted mainly of planned middle-income sub-divisions. Since the 1960s, government has sponsored low-cost housing developments at Yellow Elder, Elizabeth Estates, and Pinewood Gardens, in the outer ring.

Nassau Terminal Royal Place © panoramio.com - Bohao Zhao/cc-by-3.0 Nassau welcome gateway © BrokenSphere/cc-by-3.0 © panoramio.com - Gervacio Rosales/cc-by-3.0 © panoramio.com - Gervacio Rosales/cc-by-3.0 Bahamian Parliament © UpstateNYer/cc-by-sa-3.0 Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor © TampAGS/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Nassau Terminal Royal Place © panoramio.com - Bohao Zhao/cc-by-3.0
The city centre is the hub for all activities in Nassau. Thousands of people visit daily, to shop, dine, sightsee and to enjoy the tropical climate of the city. While the busiest part of central city is the Bay Street thoroughfare and the Woodes Rogers Walk, located across the street from the port and parallel to Bay, the area extends for several blocks in each direction. It starts at West Bay, around the Junkanoo Beach area. A few hotels and restaurants are located on West Bay. The next landmark is the British Colonial Hotel, which marks the beginning of Bay Street proper. Pirates of Nassau Museum is just across from the British Colonial Hilton. The next few blocks of Bay Street are wall-to-wall boutiques, with a few restaurants and clubs interspersed throughout the retailers. Historical landmarks are also in the vicinity, including Vendue House, Christ Church Cathedral, and the Nassau Public Library. Although the tourist part of the city centre peters out after about seven blocks, smaller, more local shops are located down Bay Street. At this point, Bay Street becomes East Bay. The Straw Market is a tourist destination in the city centre. A new market was opened in 2011 after a fire in 2001 destroyed the original Fish, Vegetable and Straw Market. The market is open on all sides, and contains a number of Bahamian craft stores.

Cable Beach is recognized as the hotel district of Nassau. Five hotels—two of which are all-inclusive—are located on this strip. The area is also known for its dining, with most of the area’s restaurants located in the hotels or across the street. There is a bit of shopping, most of it located in the Wyndham and at Baha Mar. In 2017, the development of Baha Mar, a luxury resort and casino, brought more than 2,000 hotel rooms and the largest gaming and convention facility in the Caribbean to this section of New Providence Island.

Ferries (boats) provide water travel around Nassau to the surrounding islands, namely Paradise Island. Prince George Wharf is the main port in the city that serves cruise ships with ports of call in Nassau. Transportation and shipping around the Family Islands is primarily through mailboats based at Potters Cay. International shipping is done through the Arawak Port Department on Arawak Cay. High speed excursions to Exuma, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island are available daily.

Nassau has been recognized as a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a city of Crafts and Folk Art. It is one of only three Caribbean cities to receive this honour.

Read more on bahamas.com – Nassau & Paradise Island, Wikivoyage Nassau and Wikipedia Nassau (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.










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