The “real” Port Royal

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise is known for its fanciful recreations of historic ports throughout the Caribbean. The city of Port Royal (Jamaica) plays prominently in the storyline, but the film version has a much “happier” destiny than its real-life counterpart.

In the late 1600’s, Port Royal was one of the richest locations for nautical trade.  Both legitimate businessmen and pirates took notice of the success, and Port Royal quickly developed a reputation for decadence. The lavish lifestyle came to a dramatic end on the morning of June 7, 1692. A massive earthquake devastated the city, claiming thousands of lives in the process.

The extreme geologic stress created fluidity within the loosely-packed soil underneath the port. The resulting liquefaction caused many of the buildings to sink below sea-level, effectively destroying Port Royal. The city never regained its former prominence, as most trade shifted to nearby Kingston.

(images from “Pirates of the Caribbean” courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)

 Chief Meteorologist Jerry Jackson

 

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