New Books—“Port of Spain: The Construction of a Caribbean City, 1888-1962”


According to The University of the West Indies Press, Stephen Stuempfle’s Port of Spain: The Construction of a Caribbean City, 1888–1962 (2018) sold out at #bocas2018, but is now back in stock. In this rigorously-documented historic study, Stuempfle charts the origins of Port of Spain right up to Trinidad and Tobago’s 1962 independence. “History comes alive in this series of narratives which explore Port of Spain through its architects and artists, its labourers and engineers, its academics and performers.”

Description: In this wide-ranging study, Stephen Stuempfle explores the transformation of the landscape (material environment) of Port of Spain from the cocoa boom era at the turn of the twentieth century through Trinidad and Tobago’s independence from Britain in 1962. In addition to outlining the creative work of planners, architects, engineers and builders, he examines depictions of the city in journalism, travel literature, fiction, photographs and maps, and elucidates how diverse social groups employed urban spaces both in their day-to-day lives and for public celebrations and protests.

Over the course of the seven decades considered, Port of Spain was a dynamic centre for interactions among British officials; American entrepreneurs, military personnel and tourists; and a rapidly growing local population that both perpetuated and challenged the colonial regime. Many people perceived the city as a vanguard space – a locale for pursuing new opportunities and experiences.

By drawing on a rich array of written and visual sources, Stuempfle immerses the reader in the sights and sounds of the city’s streets, parks, yards and various buildings to reveal how this complex environment evolved as a realm of collective endeavour and imagination. He argues that the urban landscape served as a key site for the display and negotiation of Trinidad’s social order during its gradual transition from colonial rule to self-government. For Port of Spain’s inhabitants, the construction of a modern capital city was interrelated, both practically and symbolically, with the building of a society and a new nation-state.

STEPHEN STUEMPFLE is Executive Director, Society for Ethnomusicology, at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the author of The Steelband Movement: The Forging of a National Art in Trinidad and Tobago.

For more information, see

One thought on “New Books—“Port of Spain: The Construction of a Caribbean City, 1888-1962”

  1. A virtual companion to Stuempfle’s book is a newly published book on the life and work of Architect Colin Laird who almost single handedly transformed portions of the city in the post colonial era. FORGED FROM THE LOVE researched and written by Robert Clark, designed by Melanie Archer with an illuminating foreword by architect, Mark Raymond, has been published by The Colin Laird Project.

    Tracing the life and professional career of Colin Laird Dip Arch RIBA Hon FAIA FTTIA RIBA, whose public buildings have ‘left an oversized imprint on the Caribbean landscape and the psyche of generations of West Indians’, FORGED FROM THE LOVE celebrates the life and achievements of an indomitable Caribbean Man and an internationally recognised architect who sought through his work to define the architectural vernacular of an independent Caribbean.

    The book is is replete with 185 illustrations, photographs, sketches and all linked by an engaging account of the architect’s life and work. While chronicling his architecture the book also builds a portrait of a man engaged with his community and committed to the development of Caribbean civilisation, whether sailing single handed across the Atlantic, being awarded runner up of King of Carnival in Trinidad, lobbying against the death penalty or pioneering ecological architecture in the region.

    Christopher Laird 7b Lynch Drive Maraval Port of Spain Trinidad & Tobago The Caribbean


    Tel: +1868 681 0175 Fax: +1868 625 6339


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s