Early 20th Century Architecture in Havana (Photo Feature)
By Ernesto Gonzalez Diaz
HAVANA TIMES – Cuban architecture in the first three decades of the 20th century blended Spanish Baroque and US Rationalism. It was a time when Cubans were searching for their own identity, after years of Spanish colonialism. The country’s architecture was a place of that expression.The influence left behind by Spanish architecture, as well as the architecture that came from the US marked the identity. The former was baroque, ostentatious, full of symbolism, loaded with images. The other, was a lot more rational and focused on functionality.
Havana’s distinctive style
This Creole style was used to build public buildings, houses, and police stations designed like like medieval castles.
Even the very first phone company that existed in the country, located at the crossroads between Aguila and Dragones streets, which would become the tallest building in the city back in 1922, towering at 62m tall.
In all of the pictures, you will see how thresholds and capitals highlighted with baroque elements, reticulated columns and facades, the ballasts on balconies, round corners, which are the most common features that make this architectural period a fusion of more than one style.
Most of the city’s construction took place during this time. These pictures are from the Los Sitios, San Leopoldo, Pueblo Nuevo, La Vibora and Vibora Park neighborhoods. Although you can find buildings with these characteristics pretty much all over the city.
Architecture that marked our identity, is today often a victim of neglect and apathy. Such is visible in some of the pictures.
The privately owned buildings reveal a level of conservation that their owners can afford. In the case of those buildings owned by state institutions, their conservation and maintenance depends on the heritage importance of this building.