The Arcos Building, a Curiosity in Vedado, Havana

HAVANA TIMES – It rests on an open vertical chasm. The Arcos Building was built in the 1930s. It spans across E and F Streets, in the middle of the residential Vedado neighborhood.

It has over 70 apartments and lots of interior staircases; but the most famous one is the one that connects 19th and 21st Streets. Lots of people use it to cross because it’s easier.

Over the years, there have been stories of collapses inside. That’s why sometimes I hesitate to walk along the long corridor. However, I always end up giving in, not taking my eyes off the vegetation coming out of the foundations and huge rocks that hold it up.

Opposite, you can see houses embedded into the rocks, and can imagine how these would be the first to come falling down if there was an earthquake.

The building brings back some personal memories, some good, some sad. While I was studying at high school, I’d visit a classmate that lived inside many times, as she held a study group in her home. Although I can’t remember the number of Tania’s apartment now.

Sandra used to live here, back in the 1980s. He was a homosexual friend who had AIDs, who took shelter here in one of the apartments, to escape being taken away to the Los Cocos Mental Hospital. His cousin owned the apartment. Nobody knew where he went. We only found out when he got really ill.

He’d spend the day watching Barbara Streisand videos and he only went out in the dark of night, dressed up as a woman. He liked to be a transvestite. But he didn’t die there. He passed away at his mother’s home, months later.

I recently walked past and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take some photos. They reveal a certain magic, and the uncertainty of what the future holds. We don’t know what catastrophe will destroy this extremely rare architectural project.

See more photo galleries here on Havana Times.

One thought on “The Arcos Building, a Curiosity in Vedado, Havana

  • During my last visit to Cuba recently, I thought that I would drop by the home of an elderly woman who used her living room as her sewing room. She was a costurera or seamstress who seemed to have a pretty good business repairing used clothing for her customers. She had repair some stuff for me and I intentionally brought a couple things from the US to get repaired. However, when I got there, I was surprised to find that the entire building (most of it) had collapsed. No one was living in there. I’m guessing that there were about 6 apartments in the building. Everyone was gone. Can anyone share where do the people go who lose their homes like this. I asked a few neighbors and the people that I talked to had no idea. The building was located on calle Águila close to the Malecón.

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