Quinta Avenida

CA5
Top Pick
Famous Street
CA Ranking: 5
  • Initially called Avenida de las Américas, Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) stretches from the tunnel that connects it to Calzada Street, in Vedado, to the Santa Ana River, in the locality of Santa Fe. Considered the most beautiful avenue of its time, its construction was decisive for the development of Miramar.

    Havana’s Quinta Avenida
    By Ricardo Alberto Pérez

    For those who day after day travel from the center of Havana to the western part of the city after having fulfilled their duties of the day, beautiful and majestic Quinta Avenida, or 5th Avenue, which crosses the Miramar residential area, becomes a singular setting for meditation. For a while, it turns into a sort of singular zen garden while you drive and meditate. The beautiful surroundings and the level road make the driving soothing and help you leave the high doses of stress acquired in the urban hustle and bustle.

    Cubans who for one reason or another have resided abroad, especially in South American countries, such as Brazil, have a clear awareness of the secret anguish caused by the sensation of lack of open space, which is the opposite in island nations. If we analyze in detail the structural changes that have taken place in Cuban homes in recent decades, especially those that are located in the capital, it is easy to that we are engaged in a tooth-and-nail fight to conquer more space. Fifth Avenue in particular and Miramar in general are elegies to the possibility of enjoying a space that may give the sensation of being limitless.

    One of the architects involved in the construction of this important thoroughfare was one of the most famous architects in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, the American John H. Duncan, who designed the Wolcottt Hotel and Grant’s Tomb in NYC. The other architect involved was Cuban Leonardo Morales, a graduate of Columbia University. It is not by chance that Miramar with its rectangular blocks of 100 x 200 meters is so like Manhattan.

    Fifth Avenue stretches down from the tunnel that connects it with Calzada Street in Vedado to the Santa Ana River in the small seaside town of Santa Fe. The road here becomes Carretera Panamericana down to El Mariel. Its layout was instrumental in the development of Miramar. Its origin goes back to the early 20th as a result of the immigration of Havana’s moneyed classes to the west beyond the mouth of the Almendares River.

    The avenue’s original name was Avenida de Las Américas [Avenue of the Americas], which is why the fountain, which was inaugurated in 1924 and is situated at its very entrance, is called Fountain of the Americas. Another familiar sight on 5th Avenue is a clock tower whose four bells reproduce the sound of Big Ben in London. In 1993, the clock was declared the official symbol of tghisnterritory. These two landmarks were also built by Duncan.

    Many legends and anecdotes surround this splendid avenue, most of which are connected with the mansions that were built in the area, especially in the first half of the 20th century XX, and with the people who inhabited them. One of these notable mansions is located on the corner of 5th Ave and 14th St. Ironically nicknamed “The Shack” by its owner, President Ramon Grau San Martin, the “humble” abode had 19 bathrooms, not counting the ones in the garages and pool. The mansion of the Countess of Buenavista on 5th Ave and 6th St, and which won the 1929-1930 Facade Contest of the Rotary Club, is now home to 23 different families, which make it a tenement house in one of the best residential areas in Havana. One of the most famous houses in Miramar is perhaps the one located on the corner of 5th Ave and 2nd St–The House of Green Tiles or the Green House, which for many years gave rise to numerous legends. One of these legends was that there was a treasure hidden somewhere inside the building, a myth that Luisa Rodríguez Faxas believed herself until her death. Fortunately, today the house is as a center for the promotion and study of modern architecture.

    The central part of Quinta Avenida is a pedestrian walkway landscaped with bushes, flowers and trees. In the mornings, it is a place for jogging, running or working out, whether in groups or alone. In the afternoons, especially before nightfall, parents take their kids to the walkway where they can run, ride their bikes or skate.

    Fifth Avenue becomes a bit foreign to itself at the roundabouts at 112th and 120th streets. Private dwellings seem to have vanished from this stretch of the avenue. The once famous Coney Island Park used to stand on the northern sidewalk. On the other side of the road, on the south side, there were seedy bars, pool rooms and nightclubs which catered, however, to all social classes. None of that exists now. The theme park Isla del Coco and the Trompoloco Circus have occupied the area of Coney Island and fast food outlets have substituted bars and nightclubs.

    Walking or driving down Quinta Avenida is a treat in itself. Not only is it one of the longest arteries in Havana, it is one of the loveliest.

    
  • Plaza de Armas

    Plaza de Armas  LH 5+

    The early city was formally founded in 1519 on the northeast side of what would soon be laid out as Plaza de la Iglesia—named for the simple church that stood here until 1741, when it was destroyed fo …

    Gran Parque Metropolitano (Parque Almendares)

    Gran Parque Metropolitano (Parque Almendares)  LH 5+

    Along the banks of the Almendares River is Parque Almendares, also known as Bpsque de La Haband (Havana’s Forest). This is the only urban forest in the city and is a recreational area for Habaneros th …

    Plaza de San Francisco

    Plaza de San Francisco  LH 5+

    Right across Havana harbor, Plaza de San Francisco is one of the first three built in the 16th century. It takes its name from the Franciscan convent built there. The plaza became the site of a market …

    Plaza de la Catedral

    Plaza de la Catedral  LH 5+

    The last of the main squares to be created, this is one of Old Havana’s most beautiful spots. Originally, it was named Plaza de la Ciénaga (Swamp Square) because of its muddy terrain, but by the 18th …

    Hotel Nacional de Cuba

    Hotel Nacional de Cuba  LH 5+

    In response to the increasing influx of American tourists in the late 20s (mainly those who were escaping Prohibition, in force in the United States at the time), the construction of a luxury hotel wa …

    Callejón de Hamel

    Callejón de Hamel  LH 5+

    The narrow two-block long alley between Aramburu and Hospital streets in Centro Habana has over the years become a shrine to Afro-Cuban religions through the art created by Salvador González. The buil …

    Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón

    Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón  LH 5+

    History & architecture Declared National Monument in 1987, this is the most important cemetery in Cuba and its 57 hectares (10 acres) makes it the largest in America. According to Enrique Martínez …

    Catedral de La Habana

    Catedral de La Habana  LH 5+

    The entry of the Jesuits in Cuba was formally requested in 1656, and in 1727, a plot was granted for their school and church. Bishop Brother Gerónimo Valdés explained to the King of Spain that Havana’ …

    The Malecón

    The Malecón  LH 5+

    The Malecón, first named Avenida del Golfo, is Cuba’s most famous sea-side avenue. The project was undertaken by Don Francisco de Albear, Cuba’s greatest engineer at the time. Albear came up with a co …

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)  LH 5

    History & architecture Considered the most important example of baroque architecture in the city, this grand building on the west side of the plaza was built in 1792, on the sight of the former pa …

    1 of 22 pages »