Calzada del Cerro
A rare example of urban planning, the nineteenth century Calzada del Cerro in Havana, Cuba, is a sinuous colonnaded street that stretches more than three kilometers from Old Havana to the barrio of El Cerro, a one-time summer retreat for Havana's Creole aristocracy. Well into the 1920s, the elite built classical-styled mansions along the thoroughfare, each more Italianate than the next.
In the 1930s the area began to fall into decline. The rich moved out: poor families, even groups of families, began to move in, unable to afford the upkeep, much less maintenance. By the 1970s many of the buildings had fallen into ruin while others had collapsed beyond repair.
In spite of this extreme deterioration, jewels of this bygone era remain, including the old Palace of Santovenia, now occupied by a home for the elderly. The National Center for Conservation, Restoration, and Museology, with help from the Havana School of Architecture, has undertaken a study of this historic area and has developed an overall plan for its restoration, including the Calzada. The scheme calls for maintaining existing houses and eliminating activities contributing to their further decline. It is hoped that Watch listing will harness international support for a long-term restoration campaign. Last update: 2004