In colonial times, this promenade received several names, including Nuevo Prado, Alameda de Extramuros, Paseo de Isabel II and Paseo del Prado, and with cuba’s independecne, it became Paseo de Martí. However, people keep calling it simply “El Prado.”
Construction works began in 1772 under Don Felipe Fonsdeviela y Ondeano, the Marquis de la Torre, Governor and Captain General of Cuba, who is considered Havana’s first town planner. He is also responsible for the construction of Alameda de Paula, the first theater in Havana, El Principal, and the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, among many other important public buildings. In time, the street became very popular with the city’s bourgeoisie. In 1884, it was remodeled and gained prominence with improvements on the street lighting, paving and benches. Additionally, important buildings and other constructions began to be erected on either side, which made the area even more appealing, and by the early 20th century, it had become the most popular location among well-off families to build their residences. In the late 1920s, as part of the expansion of Havana led by the French landscape artist Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier and a team of French and Cuban collaborators, the Paseo del Prado got the bronze lions, lamp-posts and marble benches we see today. Calle Prado is divided into four well demarcated sections: the Paseo, Parque Central, the area in front of the Capitolio and Parque de la Fraternidad. It was not until 1904 that it officially became Paseo Martí.