The Gran Teatro, Havana's stunning Old-World opera house, near the Capitolio.
Recognizing the crushing poverty and the mind-boggling extent of the "elegant decay" that envelops the city, what I'm left with after days of exploring Havana on foot is the exuberant spirit of the people and their joy of living, and how that spirit and pride is embodied in the architecture, city design, visual arts, addictive music, celebratory street life and memorable food. Will what is quintessentially Cuban survive the "normalization" of relations with the U.S.? After visiting three times in the last 13 months and having worked in the world of urban redevelopment for decades, I believe that it will. It will require vision, intelligence, creativity and patience. I found no shortage of those qualities in the Cuban people we met.
These sketches were made while exploring Central Havana on foot. They can't begin to describe the visual richness of the city, but I hope they hint at what we saw. Enjoy.
|A classic cathedral tower punctuates the pedestrian's view down this narrow street.|
The Capitolio, modeled after the U.S. Capitol but slightly taller, as seen from a cafe table in Plaza Vieja.