Crumbling Havana
The deteriorating buildings of Havana, Cuba

The Grandeur that was Havana

In early 2004 I spent three weeks in Cuba, primarily in Havana. During the time I was waiting for appointments and interviews (there is a lot of waiting in Cuba) I walked the streets of the city. It is an alive, vibrant city with a multitude of neighborhoods. However, I stayed mostly to the back streets, away from the tourist areas, where some reconstruction is taking place. After a few days an overwhelming impression of decay and deterioration began to emerge. Although some houses are in good repair, the majority are neglected either cosmetically or structurally. Even along the Malecon, some of the world's prime real estate, the buildings are frequently a disaster waiting to happen. I walked the Malecon frequently, and on the side across from the sea wall, there are blocks of buildings ready to fall down, propped up by wooden support beams. Sewage oozes out of the pavement. Wiring in some buildings resembles a tangle of spaghetti. Stairways to apartments are rotted away. Balconies fall off buildings and crash into the street below.

Havana can be, and hopefully will be, rebuilt at some future date. It is a magnificent city, among the greatest I have visited. Its people are among the friendliest in the world. The majesty that was Havana may one day be seen again.

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Along the Malecon, facing the sea.

An example of a restored building next to one
that is collapsing.

Interior stairway, Malecon.

Apartment wiring, Malecon.

Everything is propped up and ready to collapse.
Many buildings will have to be torn down and replaced.

Tilework, Central Havana.

The shell of a building. People still live here.

Structurally sound but in need of paint.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell if buildings
are vacant or lived in.

Stairway to another mansion.
In need of cleaning and repair.

A tree has taken root in the wall above the outline
of a demolished stairway.

Some balconies are here, some have fallen.

An old building overwhelmed by foliage. main photo page

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