Architecture in Havana, Cuba and San Juan, Puerto Rico: Comparison of United States Impact Pre- and Post- 1959

Katherine Anderson


Cuba and Puerto Rico each had a strong relationship with the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. Cuba, however, lost the support of the United States through the embargo implemented after the 1959 Cuban Revolution. In contrast, Puerto Rico continues to remain a United States commonwealth today. With this divergent influence from the United States, there should have been an observable effect on the architecture of Havana and San Juan. This research focuses on the impact of these diverging relationships with the United States had on the housing conditions and efforts of the people and governments in these two capital cities in the years leading up to and following the 1959 Cuban Revolution. After the Cuban government’s official declaration of communism, United States influence on architecture in the Caribbean shifted from Havana to San Juan. Today, the greater role the United States has played in Puerto Rico in comparison to Cuba since the 1959 Revolution most clearly manifests itself in the contemporary residential architecture in San Juan. Whereas the built environment of Havana essentially froze in time in 1959 prior to local architects fully defining a modern Cuban architecture, designers in Puerto Rico continued to develop their modern architectural forms, albeit within the shadow of the United States.


Latin America, Architecture, United States

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