Fantastic Photos Of Vintage Cuba Show Life Before Castro

Before the island nation of Cuba became an object of political scorn by the United States, it was a glamorous destination for everyone from American movie stars to aristocrats to revolutionaries. While still isolated in many ways, Cuba is experiencing a resurgence in tourists and general travel interest. The island is a living, breathing testament to the mercurial nature of politics, and photos from Ramiro Fernandez’s fantastic Cuba Then remind us what Cuba once was — and what it could be again.

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Havana 1925

The sights of Havana in 1925.

Vintage Cuba Teenagers

Teenagers dance at Mariano Beach in 1956.

Vintage Cuba Lucho

Chilean singer Lucho Gatica talks with a friend at the Havana Hilton in 1958.

Crossdressers Carnival

A group of revelers cross dresses during a 1960 Carnival in Santiago de Cuba.

Vintage Cuba Lina Salome

Cuban singer and dance Lina Salomé zooms around Havana in 1956

Celia Cruz

Singer Celia Cruz dons a dress by Cuban designer Manolo Fernández at Havana's Tropicana Night Club in 1954.

Vintage Cuba Havana 1954

Bus riders show their tickets in Havana, 1954.

Soap Box Derby

A young Desi Arnaz can be seen in this Soap Box Derby photo (second from the left in a white shirt), taken in Santiago de Cuba in 1925.

Vintage Cuba Castro Schoolboy

Before he led the revolution, Fidel Castro (seen at the second row from the top on the far left) played basketball. Here he is with his team--from the Belén Jesuit Preparatory School--in 1943.

Vintage Cuba Cruz Behind

Celia Cruz posing again in 1962.

Vintage Cuba Jaguar

A man pushes his broken down Jaguar XK-120 during the Havana-Guinea-Cienfuegos race in 1955.

Castro Guns

Fidel Castro studies an MK51 gun director in 1961.

Vintage Cuba Havana 1957

A couple steps out for a coffee and a smoke in Havana, 1957.

Vintage Cuba Fu Manchu

"Fu-Manchu" breathes fire in front of Havana's Saratoga Hotel in 1949.

Vintage Cuba Agustin Lara Felix

Mexican songwriter Agustín Lara exchanges glances with actress Maria Felix in Havana, 1948.

Vintage Cuba Che Chess

In 1964, revolutionary Che Guevara takes a break from political thought and focuses instead on the chess board.

Vintage Cuba Emilia Guiu

Actress Emilia Guiú lights up a cigarette in Havana, 1952.

Vintage Cuba Havana Shooting

Actor Alec Guinness and director Carol Reed chat on the set of "Our Man in Havana" at the José Martí airport in 1959.

Vintage Cuba Churchill

Winston Churchill meets with Agriculture minister Germán Alvarez Fuentes to ogle over a box of cigars in 1947.

Vintage Cuba Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway trades words with Spencer Tracy on the set of "The Old Man and the Sea" in 1957.

Vintage Cuba Cesar Romero

Half-Cuban actor César Romero (whose grandfather was famed Cuban poet and revolutionary José Martí) chats with Mexican actress Elena de la Cruz in Havana, 1946.

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