Our New Capital. Belmopan 1970. Photo by Leopold Grinage. The buildings are designed as replicas of Maya ruins and thus are not to be painted. They are sand blasted every so often to keep them clean.
Premier George Price on Scaffolding. He is in his late 40's here.
Photo by A.W. Baines, who was involved in the development of the new capital.
Looking towards National Assembly building from under the Post Office/Treasury building. Photo by A.W. Baines.
Photo by A.W. Baines
West Block. Photo by A.W. Baines
Photo by A.W. Baines
The Rest House in Orchid Gardens. Photo by A.W. Baines.
Beginnings of Belmopan Government Buildings, East and West Block with National Assembly in the middle. Photos by Gerald Leaman 1970-71, this photo and the one just below.
Here's the view in 2020!
National Assembly, Government buildings during the construction of Belmopan City in the 1970's
Belmopan House of Representatives and government offices when it was first built when Queen Elizabeth II visited Belize
Top photograph courtesy Institute of Archaeology
The two photos above from 1972 depict a capital in its infancy, fresh and bright in the day’s early light. It was our first visit and we were told that many of the civil servants and other workers were reluctant to move their households from Belize City and so they made the long commute every day. The population for the whole country at that time was only 127,000 with a significant proportion living in Belize City. Belize City is now only 18 percent of the overall population. Belmopan has grown significantly since then, but it is still the smallest capital city of the continental Americas with only 3 percent of the country’s population and only the fourth largest population center in Belize.
Belmopan is the third capitol of Belize. The early settlement held its public meetings at St. George’s Cay prior to the Spanish attack and evacuation in 1779, and could legitimately claim to be the first capitol. On the regional scene, in 1749, a superintendent was appointed to Black River on the Mosquito Shore. It is likely that London considered Black River to be the administrative center for all the mainland settlements including the Bay of Honduras. It is even more likely that the magistrates in the Bay would have resisted any interference unless it served their interests. The clash between these powers came in 1786 when newly-appointed Superintendent Despard arrived to oversee the resettlement of the Mosquito Shore evacuees. At that time Belize City became the undisputed capitol and remained so until 1970 when it was moved to Belmopan.
Shoman, Assad. 1994. 13 Chapters of a History of Belize
Campbell, Mavis C. 2011. Becoming Belize
I remember this project so well as I was one of the Directors of RECONDEV (Reconstruction and Development Corporation), fully responsible for supervising the building of Belmopan. Likewise, as Minister of Public Works, Public Utitlities and Communication, my Ministry was involved in so many of its Departments.
Daniel Gabourel Sr.:
I was the time keeper and checked the loads of fill when they first started to build the roads, I then went into the laboratory, the good old days.
"New Capital's Name: Belmopan," The Reporter, March 20 1970. Click here for larger version
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