When Havana Was the "Paris of the Caribbean"
It's now somewhat synonymous with decay of both a socioeconomic and physical nature, but there was a time before the Socialist revolution when Havana was known as the "Paris of the Caribbean," a place where Americans came to hang out in nightclubs, gamble, smoke cigars, hit on showgirls and drink copious quantities of rum. This prelapsarian paradise is celebrated in Peter Moruzzi's brilliant new book, Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground (Gibbs Smith, $30), filled with hundreds of photos, brochures, postcards, artifacts and other ephemera.
From Hemingway hangout La Floridita, where the daiquiris flowed like water, especially during Prohibition, to the Tropicana and other casinos that were cutting edge in the 1950s thanks to the interest of American mobsters, Moruzzi provides a gorgeous and engaging glimpse of an all but forgotten era. See the gallery for a preview.
Gallery: Havana Before Castro