Havana, Cuba: 1950s Era Photographs Compared to the Present Day

SANS SOUCI NITECLUB – CASINO 

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The Sans Souci Cabaret, Havana, Cuba

‘Re-discovering’ the location of Sans Souci proved difficult — pre-Revolutionary directories listed only a vague location rather than a proper address for this fabled club.  Aided by a resident of Havana, I was able to locate and photograph the outer wall and entranceway of the famous Sans Souci.  The buildings visible beyond the entrance, constructed after the cabaret closed, are currently in use by a business.  Access is restricted by a security guard at the gate.  I am not sure when the original structure was modified to include a second passageway.  To my knowledge, there have been no other modern-day images of this location posted on the internet before this one.

 

 

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EDIFICIO FOCSA

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The FOCSA Building is the tallest building in Cuba.

The undated Pre-Revolutionarly photograph appears remarkably similar to the April 2017 photograph.  I approximated the camera angle as best as I could, it was a convenient accident that some of the vehicles are parked in almost the same positions as they were in the original photograph.

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The Edificio FOCSA visible from the balcony of Restaurante La Florentina, Hotel Capri (April 2017)

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Then and Now:  Havana Street Scene

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Above:  Pre-Revolutionary Havana Street Scene (left) compared with an April 2017 photograph of the same location. Signage from other pre-Revolutionary businesses visible in the photo:  Juelle y Co. Pantalon, the Quincalleria Casa Praschnik (hardware store), and the Wagner Sederia

Remnants of the hearth of La Palma bakery are still present in the rear of what is now an automotive repair shop.  IMG_9147

Interior of the Panaderia

 

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Then and Now:  Havana Street Scene

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A pre-Revolutionary photograph of an intersection in Havana, Cuba (above) easily recognizable when compared to the same view in April 2017.

The structures in the right of the original photograph have been replaced by a park.  The Lamparas Quesada building is now a bookstore.

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Then and Now:  Havana Street Scene

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A Street Scene in Havana photographed at the approximate time of the Revolution (above) compared to the same street scene in April 2017.

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Then and Now:  Havana Street Scene

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A pre-Revolutionary color photograph of a street in Havana (above) compared with the same street in April 2017.

The Hotel Lido is still in operation today, making identification of this site much easier.  Exterior facades have been modified over the years.  A local resident was able to show me the remains of a metal post in the sidewalk which once held a sign for the Route 28 Bus.

 

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Then and Now:  Havana Street Scene

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Western Union, Havana, Cuba:  Pre-Revolutionary Photograph (left) and April 2017 Comparison Photograph (right).  The tarp for El Optica Almendares is also visible in the original photo and that business, established in 1882, still exists today.

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ORIENTAL PARK RACETRACK, CASINO, & JOCKEY CLUB

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Above:  The former Oriental Park Racetrack, Casino, and Jockey Club, Havana, Cuba (April 2017)

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MONTMARTRE HOTEL CASINO

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The Montmartre Hotel Casino in an undated Pre-Revolutionary photograph compared to April 2017 photographs

The building is in extremely poor condition.  A passerby advised me that in his opinion, I should not stand near the building because he expects it to collapse without warning.  The Hotel Nacional is visible in the background.

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TEATRO SHANGHAI  (SHANGHAI THEATRE)

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Teatro Shanghai in an undated pre-Revolutionary photograph.  The building has been demolished and Parque Shanghai is located where the building once was.  The park was gated and locked and in need of upkeep.

Teatro Shanghai, famous for its live sex shows, was dramatized as an un-named, smoke-filled cabaret in Godfather II.  The “Superman,” otherwise known as “El Toro” performed here in real life and in the film.  The older generations of Cubans remember the stories about this club, and convey a sense of disdain when they speak of it.

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THEN AND NOW:  HAVANA STREET SCENE

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Pre-Revolutionary street scene (left) compared to the same location in April 2017 (right)

The Villasuso Radio shop, Peluqueria Navarro, Macia Ortopedia, Cao y Varela Muebleria (furniture store) are also visible in the original photograph.  The exterior facade of some of the building have changed.  The distinctive balcony with a “scalloped” border is present in both photographs.

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BARRIO CHINO  (CHINA TOWN)

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Barrio Chino in an undated photo compared to the appearance in April 2017 

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LOS REBELDES

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Photograph of Rebel Soldiers in Havana (1959) Compared to the Same Location (2017)

The location for this shot was identified based on the known address of the Hotel San Carlos.  The name of the hotel remains in the sidewalk even though the building no longer exists.  The camera angle of this photograph was difficult to approximate because of heavy traffic in this area, and there are numerous bicycle taxis and vehicles parked where the original photographer was likely standing in 1959.  Local people seemed unfamiliar with this hotel, and the location is now utilized as a parking lot.