Sights - Vedado
The municipio of Plaza de la Revolución (pop. 165,000), west of Centro Habana, comprises the leafy residential streets of Vedado and, to the southwest, the modern enclave of Nuevo Vedado and Plaza de la Revolución.
Vedado—the commercial heart of “modern” Havana—has been described as “Havana at its middle-class best.” The University of Havana is here. So are many of the city’s prime hotels and restaurants, virtually all its main commercial buildings, and block after block of handsome mansions and apartment houses in art deco, eclectic, Beaux-Arts, and neoclassical styles—luxurious and humble alike lining streets shaded by stately jagüeys dropping their aerial roots to the ground.
Formerly a vast open space between Centro Habana and the Río Almendares, Vedado (which means “forest reserve” or “forbidden”) served as a buffer zone in case of attack from the west; construction was prohibited. In 1859, however, plans were drawn up for urban expansion. Strict building regulations defined that there should be 15 feet of gardens between building and street, and more in wider avenidas.
Regularly spaced parks were mandated. The conclusion of the Spanish-Cuban-American War in 1898 brought U.S. money rushing in. Civic structures, large hotels, casinos, department stores, and lavish restaurants sprouted alongside nightclubs.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition