Cuba’s people have certainly been through difficult times, but the country’s political history has produced a unique and fascinating time capsule. Most of the infrastructure of the country is frozen in the 1950’s. It reminds me of what happened in Providence, RI – when most of the rest of the country ripped down crumbling historic buildings in the name of urban renewal, Providence was too poor to play. Now, the city is prized for its hundreds of charming historic buildings, snapped up and restored by commuters to Boston or New York City. I hope that Cuba’s history will be treasured and restored as the political times change.
While much of Cuba’s infrastructure has crumbled and its economy has limped along, Eusebio Leal Spengler, the official historian of Havana, has rebuilt and refurbished more than 300 landmark buildings in Old Havana, from fortresses built in the colonial days to famous nightspots and hotels of the city’s swinging era just before the Cuban revolution. Leal’s work can be seen in Old Havana’s Plaza del Catedral. The plaza houses a 259-year-old cathedral and the historian’s office.