Photo Essay: Old Town Scenes

Beyond the cute tourist zone of Old Havana (Havana Vieja), the rest of the city provides a jarring contrast. The cityscape is three layers of architecture: a melting-sugar-cube world of delightful Art Deco, brutal Soviet functionalism, and current no-frills construction — cinderblock painted in playhouse colors. Exploring it is easy. I found that, unless a door is locked, it’s all public.

Families live in street-level apartments, just steps away from major monuments. When roaming the streets of Havana, you’re treated to intimate peeks into domestic worlds. Tiny family rooms are filled with Grandma-vintage heirloom furniture, as three generations ignore a blaring TV. Just as the cars are in a 1950s time warp, so are the living rooms. It’s often the lighting that catches your eye: backlit, toned, and dark-skinned bodies shiny with sweat and wearing clothes that seem to fit the decrepit walls that corral all that Cuban conviviality.

As a photographer, it’s easy to romanticize poverty. But the daily reality of some of the people I met is miserable. For this reason, I found walking the streets both fun…and troubling.

Old buildings Laundry balcony Local Cubans Cuban women


One Reply to “Photo Essay: Old Town Scenes”

  1. Yes- the shadows and complexities of the realities of life that most all Cubans face seem, in my 20 years of experience there, without end and without. The financially more fortunate Cubans (meaning they receive remittances from outside the country) endure very painful family separation.

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