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Vintage Photos Show What Havana Looked Like in Late 19th – Early 20th Century

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Horse-drawn carriage in 1904 (Library of Congress)
Horse-drawn carriage in 1904 (Library of Congress)

 

Given the dawning of detente with Cuba, U.S. tourism to the Caribbean island will continue to rise in coming years. Installed in 1962, a U.S. embargo effectively froze the island nation in time, so visitors are eager to experience a portal into the past. Photos from the Library of Congress’ archives take you even deeper into the past, depicting Cuban life long before the embargo at the turn of the century .

Rooftops over Havana in 1904 (Library of Congress)
Rooftops over Havana in 1904 (Library of Congress)

 

With these vintage prints, you can explore daily life in Cuba during a pivotal time in Cuban-American relations, from 1890 to 1906. Life on the cobblestone streets of Havana was obviously much different than today. Horse-drawn carriages clutter the roads instead of colorful classic cars. Sparked by the suspicious sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898, the Spanish-American War was fought and won in a few months and led to four years of interim occupation by U.S. forces. After Cuban regained its full independence, life flourished in the “Rome of the Caribbean.” Examples of this can be seen in  the buildings along Paseo del Prado, which have a European aesthetic.

Enjoy a trip back in time to Havana in the 20th century below.

 

The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception (Library of Congress)
The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception (Library of Congress)
The sunken wreck of U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor in 1900 (Library of Congress)
The sunken wreck of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Avenida Zulueta in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Avenida Zulueta in 1900 (Library of Congress)
A group portrait in 1900 (Library of Congress)
A group portrait in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Obispo Street in 1906 (Library of Congress)
Obispo Street in 1906 (Library of Congress)
Plaza full of soldiers with a newsboy selling papers in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Plaza full of soldiers with a newsboy selling papers in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Paseo del Prado in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Paseo del Prado in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Fruit wagons outside a market in 1890 (Library of Congress)
Fruit wagons outside a market in 1890 (Library of Congress)
Wharf in Havana Harbor in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Wharf in Havana Harbor in 1900 (Library of Congress)
Jai Alai hall in 1904 (Library of Congress)
Jai Alai hall in 1904 (Library of Congress)
Ice cream vendoor in 1890 (Library of Congress)
Ice cream vendor in 1890 (Library of Congress)