The '50s Drive - detailed descripton


Here you can read more about The '50s Drive, and what you will see during this ride, related to the 50-years.

In the previous 1950s, Cuba was a hedonistic destination for North Americans.

There were more casinos than cultural centers, more (forced) prostitutes than nurses. Gangsters like Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Al Capone drew a shady veil over Havana. They built hotels, casinos, clubs, cinemas, and brothels for their convenience. The business sector was mainly owned by American industrialists.

The Cuban president of those days, Fulgencio Batista, dictator and puppet of the USA, let it happen.
Although slavery had been abolished and the Spanish oppressor had been expelled, the Cuban people were still under the yoke of a foreign power.

Havana was the paradise setting and the exclusive playground of mafia, gangsters, artists, movie stars and other fortune seekers, a mix of glamor and gambling, sex, and drugs and rock & roll.

Hotels like Nacional de Cuba, Sevilla and Habana Riviera were some of their favorite playhouses. You can still see the illustrative photos on the walls of Hotel Nacional de Cuba and Hotel Sevilla. Hotel Habana Riviera was built in 1957 by order of Meyer Lansky. Ginger Rodgers performed at the inauguration. In 2012 it was declared a national monument.

Hotel Capri, completely restored in 2014, also displays an overall fifties charm. The Havana Hilton was the last monumental building that the Americans have left behind. In 1958, 9 months before the seizure of power, it opened its doors festively. Unsuspecting?

More gems from that time are the cinemas Riviera, America, Yara and the department store La Epoca (albeit with a less luxurious range of products than back then). In the district of Nuevo Vedado, you can see beautiful houses with typical architectural styles from that time.

The Focsa building cannot be missed (realized between 1954 and 1956). For Havana quite a megalomaniac, but in New York, it would not be out of place.

It was Fidel's second attempt.

In 1953 he was arrested, detained, given amnesty and he left for Mexico to prepare the coming revolution. In 1956 he returns to his homeland and goes ashore to overthrow the current regime and drive the Americans away. Slowly the revolution crawls through the Sierra Maestra. Christmas 1958, Che Guevara won the decisive battle in Santa Clara. A week later - New Year's Eve - President Batista rushes off to the Dominican Republic. On January 2, 1959, El Che and Camillo Cienfuegos are the first to march into Havana receiving loud cheers from an overjoyed Cuban multitude, followed on 8 January by Fidel and his younger brother Rául. The same evening Fidel speaks a to a huge crowd at Camp Colombia, nowadays the Ciudad Escolar Libertad. Americans and collaborating Cuban elite left the island in a hurry, a narrow escape, leaving behind half a million American cars, many of them still driving today.

It had not come to impressive buildings in the first year of the revolution. Names changed. Plaza Cívica was renamed Plaza de la Revolución, the square is from before 1950 and was inspired by the Place de l'Étoile in Paris. The government is based in the buildings around it. The marble monument of José Martí, poet of the country, stands there and is 17 meters high, 138.5 meters with pedestal (a beautiful way to view the city from above). 
Presumably with a triumphant grin, the Havana Hilton, gloriously opened 9 months earlier, was renamed Hotel Habana Libre.

Restoration workshop

But the most vivid evidence and for us, a great tribute to the fifties are the countless American vintage cars, which are still driving around 60 years later. They did so before the triumph of the revolution, they still do today. Do you want to know more about it, would you like to see how they are beautifully restored and preserved? Come to our workshop for a tour. The garage of Nostalgicar also contains a photo gallery of celebrities, once passengers in one of our cars.

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