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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments

Interpreting the present in light of the past, eleven renowned architects, historians, scholars, preservationists, and urban planners in Cuba and the United States provide a rigorous examination of Havana old and new that provokes exploration of the ways we look at all cities. These authoritative policy makers and thinkers raise issues of how the most important city in Spanish colonial America developed and changed over several centuries and the extent to which it is being restored and preserved today. More than 350 illustrations juxtapose historical colored postcard images of Havana with recent digital color photographs of the same views. The imagery, based on years of exhaustive research and investigation, draws from Cathryn Griffith’s collection of more than 600 postcards of Havana from 1900 to 1930, over 3,000 photographs made there during multiple trips since April 2003, and extensive interviews with experts in Havana and the United States.


“[A] fascinating portrait of a city across time.” Design Observer


“[T]he next best thing to being there that we’ll probably ever have….It’s rare that one gets to so colorfully visit a city without leaving the house.” The Miami Sun Post


“Griffith’s images and the maps are extremely useful to students of Cuban architecture, and will be of great interest to general readers curious about the capital….those who are unable to visit can ‘see’ at least some of the city in this beautiful volume.” Wellesley Magazine


“In , Cathryn Griffith exquisitely captures the vibrant heart of Havana through her juxtaposition of past and present. Her photos reveal a city holding on despite a desperate economic situation and the ravages of time, and the accompanying text educates readers about the historical significance of Havana’s architecture. Overall, a lovingly rendered portrait of a place suspended in time.” Lea Aschkenas, author of Es Cuba


” captures the architectural essence of a city where past and present comingle in mysterious ways. Juxtaposing images of old and new, accompanied by astute prose, this exquisite book bridges the expanse of time and does something extraordinary: it takes you on a journey to an era long ago while remaining rooted in the here and now. ” T. J. English, author of Havana Nocturne


“Awestruck visitors to Cuba’s gorgeous capital most often ask the question–who will protect these architectural treasures once the American embargo ends and the commercial onslaught begins? provides the powerful answer that the greatest curators of Havana’s past will also be the most passionate champions of Havana’s future, the Cuban people themselves. This book reminds us how deeply Cubans are attached to their capital and how jealously they have protected its landmarks for five hundred years.” Sarah Stephens, executive director, Center for Democracy in the Americas


This beautifully illustrated book documents the history, preservation, and present uses of Havana’s most important buildings and urban spaces.

About the Author

Cathryn Griffith, a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she develops and manages industrial real estate.

Product Details

Publication date:
W. W. Norton & Company
Number of Units:
UPC Code:
Eusebio Leal Spengler
Cathryn Griffith
Dick Cluster
Architecture — Cuba — Havana.
Architecture — History.
Havana (Cuba) Buildings, structures, etc.


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