18 Vintage Photos of Life in Havana, Cuba From the 1930s to the 1950s

Havana is the capital and largest city of Cuba. The heart of the La Habana province, Havana is the country’s main port and leading commercial center. The city has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 781.58 km2 (301.77 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.

The city of Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, it served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the Americas becoming a stopping point for Spanish galleons returning to Spain. Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of capital in 1592. Walls as well as forts were built to protect the city.

The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish–American War. The city is the center of the Cuban government, and home to various ministries, headquarters of businesses and over 100 diplomatic offices. The governor is Reinaldo García Zapata of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). In 2009, the city/province had the third highest income in the country.

Contemporary Havana can essentially be described as three cities in one: Old Havana, Vedado and the newer suburban districts. The city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbors: Marimelena, Guanabacoa and Antares. The Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay.

The city attracts over a million tourists annually; the Official Census for Havana reports that in 2010 the city was visited by 1,176,627 international tourists, a 20% increase from 2005. Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. The city is also noted for its history, culture, architecture and monuments. As typical of Cuba, Havana experiences a tropical climate. (Wikipedia)

A collection of black and white photographs showing the Havana high life from between the 1930s and 1950s, before Castro and the Revolution.

Cuban Socialite Aline Johnson and friend Nina Gomez de Freyre receiving manicures. Havana, Cuba 1946.
Socialite Aline Johnson de Menocal meeting with her personal staff to plan a party. Havana, Cuba 1946.
Socialite (debutante) Aileen Johnson Menocal eating breakfast in bed. Painting above her is supposedly her Mother painted as Madonna. Havana, Cuba 1946.
Outdoor party with silk canopies for socialites attending parties of Cuba’s first lady La condesa de Comargo. Havan, Cuba 1950.
Cuban Socialite party where the Mothers chaperone their unmarried daughters. Party of socialite La Condesa de Comargo. Havana, Cuba 1950.
A bartender mixes an exotic tropical cocktail at a bar in 1946 in Havana, Cuba.
Dealer Roulette at National Casino, 1958
September 1958: American cars parked in front of President Batista’s palace at Havana.
Cheaper gambling casino in Havana, 1958
All forms of gambling such as: roulette, craps, and slot-machines at Riviera Hotel, 1958.
Cuban socialite Aline Johnson de Menocal with friends posing by a swimming pool. Havana, Cuba 1946.
A view of people dancing at a Cuban club, 1937.
A view of people dancing at a Cuban club, 1937.
A view of people dancing at a Cuban club, 1937.
A view of people dancing at a Cuban club, 1937.
A Cuban rhumba dancer named Zulema performs on stage with a band at the Zombie Club on Zulueta Street, Havana, Cuba, February 16, 1946.
Three women perched on the bar at the Cabaret Kursal nightclub in Havana, Cuba, circa 1950.
Guests enjoying a buffet supper at the Havana Yacht Club, circa 1950.

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