Bob Dylan, Central Park
Here’s photographer and artist Nick Sulivan holding up a photo of legendary American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan ambling along the tree-lined sidewalk on Fifth Avenue to the west of New York City’s Central Park. As you can see, his hair is “blowin’ in the wind” as he takes “shelter from the storm before a “hurricane.”
Bob famously sang, “The times, they are a-changin'” but Central Park looks pretty much the same now as it did when photographer Richard Avedon snapped him in 1965 walking along “just like a rolling stone…”
The Rolling Stones, London
Here’s The Rolling Stones wandering through Covent Garden in London in 1964. They’re on their way to play a gig at the Donmar Warehouse at the heart of the famous Seven Dials, a famous intersection where seven roads intersect.
In the 60 years since Terry O’Neill took this photo, the only changes are some new trees and some scaffolding. But, the Donmar Warehouse has changed multiple times. Before The Beatles and The Stones played there, it used to be a banana-ripening warehouse.
Cool Cats, New York
This photograph of two cool cats was taken on the corner of New York’s 42nd and Madison in 1961. The photographer was American street photographer Garry Winogrand, who was famous for portraying everyday life and mid-20th-century social issues. These two members of the beat generation stand out from the rat race like time travelers!
While you wouldn’t wear an evening dress and pearls to go shopping nowadays — because you’d likely get robbed — the midtown Manhattan buildings haven’t changed at all.
Chinatown, New York
The monochrome picture in this overlay was taken in 1900. It shows Chinese men and a woman delivering a tray of tea, standing on the corner of Pell and Doyes Streets in New York’s bustling Chinatown.
In case you don’t know the Big Apple, Pell Street is a stone’s throw away from Brooklyn Bridge. Nowadays, Chinatown is still full of restaurants, tea shops, and diners selling delicious Dim Sum. A hair salon called Kelly’s sits underneath the red-bricked building.
Le Tabou, Paris
This photo from the late 1940s shows a gang of trendy existentialists philosophizing whether a checkered car was a good purchase. Le Tabou was a late-license cellar club located at 33 Rue Dauphine in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. The club opened in April 1947 and soon became a hangout for writers and deep thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.
Poets like Tousky, Camille Bryen, and de Beaumont, and artists like Desseau and Wols also flocked there in checkered clown cars. Today, Le Tabou is called Cafe Laurent and is part of Hôtel d’Aubusson.
14th Street, Washington D.C.
Welcome to H.D. Leary Jr.’s Hudson Motor Car Company showroom. Find us at 1317½ 14th Street, Washington D.C., between The Star Laundry and Aunt Bessie’s Royal Victorian Waffle Stop. We sell the finest automobiles in the land.
Test drive the new 1910 Hudson Model 20 Roadster. The top speed is 10 mph and recommended retail price is 99 cents. Nowadays, the site of H.D. Leary Jr.’s car showroom sits next door to a men’s LGBTQ+ sauna.
An American Girl in Italy
This famous photo was taken by American photographer and photojournalist Ruth Orkin. She took the iconic snap outside Caffe Gilli on Via Roma in Florence, Italy. The picture is called An American Girl in Italy and shows a young woman from the USA walking center frame while Italian men of all ages ogle at her.
As you can see, Via Roma has barely changed at all. In fact, it’s not changed much since the city’s oldest café, Caffe Gilli, opened in 1733 in Medici-era Florence.
Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Florence
The paparazzi are a pain. Still, one paparazzo perfectly captured Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton outside The Excelsior Hotel on Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci in Florence. Taken in the 1960s, the famous pair of actors had a legendary rollercoaster relationship, marrying and divorcing twice!
Today, the hotel has changed its name to the Westin Excelsior. The hotel and church Chiesa di San Salvatore in Ognissanti look exactly the same.
The Beatles, London
Here’s a great photo of John, Paul, George, and Ringo — aka The Fab Four — in Rupert Court, London. While Carnaby Street was the center of the Swinging Sixties, London’s Soho district was seedier, full of adult bookstores and clubs.
Nowadays, the area’s been gentrified, but Edgar Wright’s One Night in Soho shows the seedy side alleys are still haunted by a cool 1960s vibe… amongst all the Starbucks and Pret A Manger sandwich shops!
Beauty Pageant, Washington D.C.
Check out this bevy of beauties hanging out after winning a beauty pageant at Union Station, Washington D.C. Left to right, the ladies are Ethel Charles — who was crowned Miss Atlantic City — and Miss Philadelphia’s Nellie Orr.
On the right is Margaret Gorman, who was not only Miss Washington, D.C. — but also the winner of the 1921 Inter-City Beauty Contest and the first Miss America. As for you, well, you’ve won second prize in a beauty contest! Collect $10.
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Rome
This overlay shows Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn walking down the Spanish Steps in Rome on their Roman Holiday. But, one guy who’s not enjoying his Roman Holiday is the guy in the blue. At the top, standing in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, you can see that the Trinità dei Monti church is still standing.
But, the weather isn’t very good. Maybe that’s why Mr. Blue looks so grumpy. Still, it could have been worse. In July 2023, Rome recorded its hottest-ever day of 107 °F.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
Here, photographer Jason Powell is standing under the statue of Abe, looking along the National Mall. The Neoclassical Lincoln Memorial opened in 1922 and drew huge crowds. But, not as big as the March on Washington on August 28th, 1963.
On that date, a quarter of a million people marched to hear Martin Luther King Jr. make his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in which he called for an end to racism. 50 years later, Captain America would run past Falcon on this spot, saying, “On your left.”
Muhammad Ali, London
While that might look like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, it’s actually the much smaller Marble Arch in London. And that fine fellow is Muhammad Ali, about to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee… unless he was preparing to fight English boxer Henry Cooper, who knocked him down.
Today, the Marble Arch still sits at the west end of Oxford Street, near the northeast corner of Hyde Park at the intersection with the famous Park Lane. But, you can’t go jogging there now without getting hit by a red double-decker bus!
Pablo Picasso, Paris
This great photo shows Spanish artist Pablo Picasso standing on Rue Ravignan in the Montmartre section of Paris in 1905. Picasso moved to the French capital the previous year and settled in the nearby artist quarter Bateau-Lavoir or “Washhouse Boat” in the 18th Arrondissement.
He definitely would have gone to see high-kicking cancan-dancing showgirls at the nearby Moulin Rouge. The angle of the overlay is a bit off-kilter, but the buildings and trees are the same now as they were 120 years ago.
This photo from 1920 shows a man proudly showing off his Sayers Six automobile in front of the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg, Virginia. The hand that’s holding the black-and-white photo up against the backdrop belongs to photographer Jason Powell.
He tends to find old-timey images in the Library of Congress, then scours the length and breadth of the country, looking for the exact spot they were taken. Next, Jason spends ages lining them up for the perfect then-and-now photo for a glimpse into the past. It’s almost like seeing ghosts!
Queen Street, Jamaica
This excellent old-timey color photo comes from Queen Street in Jamaica. Though color film was available at the time, the photo looks like it’s simply been colorized. It was taken in 1930 and shows two fellas resting on their bicycles, probably taking a breather from the stifling Caribbean heat.
While the buildings look much the same, the main thing that’s changed is the mode of transport. Back then, everyone got around on bikes, while today, they use cars and minivans. The Gibbons Company building is still there… presumably still selling gibbons.
Cary Grant, Claridge’s Hotel, London
This great photo shows Hollywood actor Cary Grant leaving the posh Claridge’s Hotel in London’s Mayfair in 1946. That year, he appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious. Grant was no stranger to the other side of the pond. He was born Archibald Leach in Horfield, Bristol in 1904.
If you’ve heard the name before, John Cleese’s character was named Archie Leach in A Fish Called Wanda. Today, Claridge’s looks much the same and is just as posh. It still accommodates famous Hollywood stars, and Gordon Ramsey used to have a restaurant there.
Another of Jason Powell’s shots is the William Paca House and Garden in Annapolis, Maryland. The building is an 18th-century Georgian mansion built between 1763 and 1765. William Paca was a three-term Governor of Maryland and a Founding Father who signed the Declaration of Independence.
If you want to know where he signed it, the answer is… at the bottom. 155 years after he built the house, this automobile parked outside in 1920. Then, 100 years later, Jason showed us how tiny old cars used to be!
Les Enfants de la Place Hébert, Paris
This photo was taken in 1959 by Robert Doisneau and is called “Les Enfants de la Place Hébert,” which translates to The Kids of Herbet Place.” These kids are so hip they look like they were just about to star in the French New Wave films of Jean-Luc Godard.
Is that a French James Dean? La Piscine restaurant in the background is still there, although it’s been gentrified. Place Hébert and the whole of Paris’ 18th Arrondissement is much more upmarket nowadays.
Jacques Prévert, Val-de-Grâce, Paris
Here’s another of Robert Doisneau’s photos. Taken in 1955, it shows French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert. He wrote the script for Les Enfants du Paradis, which Marlon Brando called “maybe the best movie ever made.”
Jacques and his faithful dog Ergé are just chilling on the corner of Rue Lhomond when they are interrupted by a nun hurrying passed them on her way to or from the nearby Couvent des Spiritains in the Val-de-Grâce area of Paris. The walls look like they haven’t been painted since 1955!
Mary E. Surratt Boarding House, Washington
The original photograph is of the Mary E. Surratt Boarding House, 604 H Street N.W. in Washington, D.C. So, what’s so special about this rather plain three-and-one-half-story building? Well, Mary E. Surratt ran it as a boardinghouse between September 1864 and April 1865.
The famous address is where she, John Wilkes Booth, David Herold, and their co-conspirators met to plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Fast forward around 160 years, and nowadays, it’s a Chinese restaurant called the Wok n Roll Restaurant. No, really!
Fords Theater, Washington D.C.
This street in Washington D.C. looked rather drab back in the day when early photographer Matthew Brady snapped it in the 1870s. And it looks just as monochrome and dull today. But if you know your history, you’ll know that Ford’s Theater holds a very auspicious place in American history.
It was the venue where John Wilkes Booth took the life of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14th, 1865. Note the tour bus, which has pulled over to see the famous site.
Fashion Shoot, Rome
This photo comes from a 1957 fashion shoot in Rome, Italy. The fashion model has just kicked a ball to a street kid outside the church of St Simeon the Prophet in Piazza Lancellotti, in the then-trendy Tor Di Nona district. We don’t know who the model is, but the photographer was Paolo di Paolo.
The photo was rediscovered and published in Italy’s Il Mundo magazine. Sadly, the church of St Simeon the Prophet is now abandoned. Instead of models playing soccer with the neighborhood kids, the piazza has become a makeshift car park.
F Street NW, Washington, D.C.
This photo was taken in 1920 on the corner of F. Street NW, Washington. It’s just a few hundred yards from The White House behind the U.S. Treasury Building. It’s now home to the Spy City Cafe, next door to the International Spy Museum.
If you think F. Street is an unimaginative name, Porter’s Lake in Canada has This Street, That Street, and The Other Street!
Samuel Beckett, Genoa, Italy
This is Irish poet, novelist, playwright, and theater director Samuel Beckett looking cool and minding his own business. He’s most likely hanging out on the street, just Waiting for Godot. He was snapped in 1971 by Italian photographer Lucio Berzioli on Santa Margherita Ligure, a commune near Genoa in Northern Italy.
Not only is Beckett toying with his designer sunglasses, but he also has a Gucci bag slung over his shoulder. Who knew those 20th Century Irish poets could be cool?
U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C.
These boys are called Newsies. They sold newspapers in and around the Capitol. Amazingly, we know who the boys are thanks to original photographer Lewis Wickes Hine. They are eight-year-old Tony Passaro of 124 Schottes Alley N.E, his nine-year-old neighbor Joseph Mase 122 Schottes Alley N.E, and 11-year-old Joseph Passaro.
Then there’s 10-year-old Joseph Tucci of 411½ 5th Sreet, N.E. And finally, there’s 12-year-old Jack Giovanazzi, of 228 Schottes Alley, who “is in ungraded school for incorrigibility.”
Easter Egg Roll, US Capitol
This gorgeous black and white photo was taken in 1924. It shows the annual Easter Egg Roll at the U.S. Capitol Building. All the kids look to be having a brilliant time playing in the spring sun, except for the creepy ghost girl in the foreground.
They say a week is a long time in politics, but in the intervening 100 years, not much has changed at The Capitol. The hill is less hilly, and there are some new bushes — but apart from that, it’s business as usual.
David Bowie, London
While The Eagles sang about “standin’ on a coroner in Winslow, Arizona” here’s English musician Davy Jones standing on the corner of Manchester Square just north of London’s Oxford Street. He was reading the newspaper in 1965.
Davy Jones, you say? Isn’t that David Bowie? Well, yes, but in 1965, he still used his real name, Davy Jones. He changed it to David Bowie the following year to avoid being confused with Davy Jones, the lead singer of The Monkees.
Les Minets, Paris
These guys are known as Les Minets. Now, Minets are a French version of Mods, and these chaps were hanging about outside a pharmacy on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris in 1966. The boulevard lies between the Latin Quarter and the River Seine.
The stores and the building in the background have barely changed, and we bet you could find the pharmacy using just the old black-and-white photo. Modern-day Minets probably can’t zip along Boulevard Saint-Germain on their Vespas as the traffic flow has definitely changed.
Park Avenue, New York
Two blocks over from Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue also runs north-south parallel to Central Park. That’s probably where they got the name from! This 1959 photo shows a man exiting one of those old-school yellow taxi cabs.
With his trilby hat and dapper suit, you can bet he’s a Mad Men-style advertising exec on his way to work. The cars have smaller spoilers, the fashion might have changed, and Ubers might have replaced yellow cabs — but that building is still there.
16th Street NW, Washington D.C.
These wonderful photos of a property on 16th Street N.W., a leafy suburban avenue in Washington D.C., demonstrate how little some things change. You can see from the color photo that the two buildings are the same as when the photo was taken, which we believe was in the 1920s.
The street runs north-south and leads directly to The White House. Maybe that’s where the man in the car was headed on important business with the President.
Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, Paris
This overlay shows French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg and his lover English actress Jane Birkin on Rue Royale, Paris in the late 1960s. If you don’t think you know them, you most definitely do. They recorded the song `’Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus”, which is still the epitome of French ’60s chic.
The only thing that’s changed in the photos is the graffiti on the street light, and Jane swapped her shopping basket for a Hermes Birkin bag. Serge passed away in 1991, and Jane passed away in July 2023.
The White House, Washington D.C.
This important historical photo shows women demonstrating for the right to vote outside The White House in February 1917. Thankfully, the banner asking, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” was answered within two years.
On June 4th, 1919, Congress finally approved the Woman’s Suffrage Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. On August 18th, 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. It was the end of a long, hard-fought, and successful battle for Suffragettes.
The Statue of Liberty, Paris
In 1886, the French people gave the American people The Statue of Liberty as a show of their fraternity. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed her, and her metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel, who made the Eiffel Tower.
The statue was assembled in France and shipped across the Atlantic. This is what she looked like when she was constructed at the Gaget, Gauthier & Co. workshop. The Parisien skyline looks a little lost without Lady Liberty!
The Eiffel Tower, Paris
One Paris landmark from the same era that still dominates the French capital’s skyline is Mr. Gustave Eiffel’s magnificent tower. While the impressive buildings are still there, the most obvious difference today is that the grass has been replaced with concrete.
While concrete is less appealing to the eye, it makes sense because you can’t exactly have seven million tourists a year trampling over your lawn on their way to visit every single tourist trap.
In November 1963, an exciting new science fiction T.V. series called Doctor Who debuted on the BBC. A month later, The Doctor first met his deadly enemies, The Daleks, in an episode entitled “The Dead Planet”. Doctor Who and The Daleks have gone down in pop-culture history.
This photo of Daleks surrounding a woman in an iconic British telephone booth was taken at the back of Wyndham’s Theatre in 1965. While you wouldn’t recognize London for all her new skyscrapers, St. Martin’s Court near the National Portrait Gallery hasn’t changed.
Simon and Garfunkel, 53rd Street Station
Here’s Simon and Garfunkel at Brooklyn’s 53rd Street Station. The photo was taken in 1964, when they released their debut studio album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., although we can’t say that’s the exact time the photo was taken.
They weren’t enjoying “the sound of silence” as a metro train hurtled by, nor were they “homeward bound” as they weren’t “sittin’ in the railway station, got a ticket to my destination…” The New York subway system is the same today but with bigger rats carrying bigger pizza slices.
Place Dauphine, Paris
This exquisite photo was taken by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1953. He was one of the first street photographers to take candid pictures of members of the public going about their day-to-day business.
This example shows two ladies and their dog in Place Dauphine, a public square near the western end of the Île de la Cité in the First Arrondissement of Paris. Check out the dude in white to see how much fashion and Parisien society have changed in the last 70 years. The street is still recognizable, though.
Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
This photo was taken in 1920. The rather imposing building on the left is one of the best-looking buildings in the capital, the Willard InterContinental Hotel. Sitting at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s often called the “Residence of Presidents.” Unfortunately, everything but The Willard was bulldozed.
The building on the right of the black-and-white photo was the original Washington Post building, the National Radio School, the two restaurants, and even the Duplicating Office made way for that ugly-looking modernist Marriott Hotel.
Colette, Palais Royal, Paris
While this lady might look like a mad cat lady feeding strays, she is, in fact, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. She was one of France’s most beloved authors and was so famous that — like Madonna or Beyoncé — she was known just as Colette. Born in 1873, she was also an actress, a journalist, and a mime. Because… France!
She loved cats so much that she even wrote a novella called La Chatte (1933) about a love triangle between a woman, her husband, and his cat, Saha. Here she is with another cat at the Palais Royal, Paris.
St. Marks Place, New York
This photo shows St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan. In 1981, the area was home to many punks, and that guy on the steps in the hat is Mick Jagger. The Rolling Stones recorded their “Waiting for a Friend” video outside this building. We think the other guy is Ronnie Wood.
But, that’s not its only claim to fame — the building also appears on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 album Physical Graffiti. While most of St Mark’s physical graffiti has gone, it’s still known as one of America’s coolest streets.
The Trevi Fountain, Rome
This is a still from Federico Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece, La Dolce Vita. Actors Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg are certainly living the sweet life as they frolic in Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain. Luckily, modern life doesn’t change all architecture into monstrous carbuncles, and the Fontana di Trevi looks as beautiful today as when it was completed in 1782.
Although, it was quieter back then. Now, 10.5 million people visit the Trevi Fountain every year. That’s 1,200 people every hour — so don’t expect a good selfie spot!
Jersey Street, New York
The good old days. A gentler time when you could leave your front door open, and kids could play on the streets past dark. This young rascal is playing stickball on Jersey Street in Little Italy, New York, circa 1955. But judging by Robert De Niro’s 1993 directorial debut A Bronx Tale, back then, the Mafia enforced protection rackets from every bodega and ice cream parlor.
Nowadays, the cobbled streets are gone, and the trendy area is known as Nolita because it lies between SoHo, NoHo, the Lower East Side, Little Italy, and Chinatown.
Via Monte Napoleone, Milan, Italy
This joyous photograph comes from Via Monte Napoleone in Milan, Italy. The street can be traced back to the Roman city walls erected by Emperor Maximian, who was Emperor between 286 AD to 305 AD.
Today, the road is famous as Europe’s most expensive shopping street. But, back when this photo was taken in 1961, it was a different world. Who wants to guess what’s in this funny little man’s box? Could he be a mustachioed Milanese milliner delivering a hat to a famous fashionista?
Main Street, Annapolis
While big cities’ skylines constantly change and high-rise skyscrapers replace old brownstones, many of America’s small towns have barely changed. This 1964 picture of Main Street, Annapolis, Maryland, shows the same buildings still standing.
Nowadays, the store on the left is the organic restaurant Preserve, which specializes in pickled and fermented produce. The tall building in the middle is a ladies’ clothes store called Tyler Boe, and Stadiger Shoes is a baby-blue fronted clothes shop called Hatley Boutique.
Hitchhiking Is The Norm
If passenger space is available, government vehicles in Cuba are required to pick up hitchhikers. Because the country has few cars, hitchhiking is encouraged, and hitchhikers use designated areas. Riders are picked up on a first-come, first-served basis by drivers.
Hitchhiking is a form of transportation that involves approaching strangers and asking for a ride in their car or other vehicles. Hitchhiking became necessary following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ballet Is Big Here
For the most part, the dance scene in Cuba has always revolved around salsa, son, and rumba. However, according to those in the know, the Caribbean Island is one of the main stages of the world’s best ballet.
Ballet here took off after legendary ballerina Alicia Alonso founded the Ballet Nacional de Cuba in 1948, which is now one of the world’s most prestigious dance companies. Despite some early difficulties, the company received crucial assistance from Fidel Castro and his revolutionary movement in 1959, after Alonso lent him her support.
Not Internet Friendly
Since the list’s inception in 2006, Reporters Without Borders has designated Cuba as an “Internet Enemy.” Certain websites are blocked by the Cuban government outright. While blocking access to specific websites is possible, it is not very widespread.
The censorship of the internet has loosened in recent years. For example, in 2007, the general public was able to purchase a computer legally. Digital media is beginning to play a more prominent role in disseminating information about events in Cuba to the rest of the world.
Since 1960, when Fidel Castro took power, the U.S. government has restricted travel to Cuba, and this restriction continues to this day, owing to the fear of communism here.
Journalists, academics, government officials, those with immediate family members living on the island, and others licensed by the Treasury Department were initially excluded from sanctioned travel. These rules were changed in 2011 to allow all Americans to visit Cuba if they were on a “people-to-people” cultural exchange tour.
Taking Pictures of Military Personnel Is Illegal
In Cuba, photographing military, police, or airport staff is prohibited. Law enforcement is sporadic, so if you want to stop rumors of spying or unpleasant interrogations from the police, don’t act rashly in front of them.
Except for government buildings and military personnel, you are free to photograph almost everything in Cuba. Cubans are eager to be the subjects of your most unforgettable photographs.
Cross-Dressing Is Illegal
Cross-dressing is illegal in Cuba, but it is fascinating like all things prohibited. Crossdressers often do it in secrecy, as those who do so afraid to be caught on the grounds that they could be imprisoned for it.
However, in recent times, cross-dressing participants could appear before a massive crowd of onlookers and tourists at the Gunilla Event.
Cuban Gar: The Manjuari Fish
The Cuban gar (Atractosteus tristoechus) is a fish in the Lepisosteidae family found only in Cuba. It’s a tropical freshwater species that can also be found in brackish water. It is also known as the manjuar and can be found in western Cuban rivers and lakes and the Isla de la Juventud.
Humans may eat the meat of the fish, but the eggs are poisonous. Seasonally, Cuban gar spawns in the floodplains of major rivers. The fish are edible, but the eggs are toxic to mammals and birds. Many people believe that gar is a bad fish to eat.
The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base Rent
The U.S. leased 45 square miles in 1903 and established the naval base there. The U.S. pays Cuba $4,085 per month in rent for Guantanamo, but the checks have never been cashed since 1959. Fidel Castro made this clear when he declined to cash the checks in defiance of the “illegal” occupation.
He revealed the checks tucked into a desk drawer in his office in a television interview years ago. The U.S. held 46.8 square miles (121 square kilometers) of land at the entrance to Guantanamo Bay in eastern Cuba for a naval base.
The Natural Home of Bee Hummingbirds
Do you want to see the tiniest bird on the planet? Then you’ll have to go to Cuba. If you arrive on the island, your best choice for finding the little wonder is to go to a forest edge draped in vines and bromeliads.
Everywhere, you can see the Bee Hummingbird hovering near the flowers. Even among hummingbirds, the Bee Hummingbird, which is only found in Cuba, is a miniature. It’s just two and a quarter inches in length.
Celebrating New Year’s Day
Many Cubans clean their homes thoroughly on the last day of the year and hold the filthy mop water until midnight. They pour the polluted water into the street at that time as a sign of washing off bad events in the previous year in the hopes of beginning the New Year with good, clean energy.
People in some places, primarily rural areas, burn a human-sized rag doll. This doll represents something terrible that happened in the previous year. People gather around the doll at midnight and light it on fire (like a puppet) to bring good luck for the coming year.
The aerial view of Cuba is often referred to as El Cocodrilo because it resembles an alligator. The name “Cuba” comes from Tano, one of the island’s native languages. It’s either linked to the words Cubao, which means “abundance of fertile land,” or cabana, which means “a wonderful spot.”
The country has another Spanish nickname, El Caiman, which is derived from the contours of the island of Cuba.
Monopoly in Cuba
In Cuba, Monopoly had a large following, but Castro outlawed it. He ordered that all of the sets be destroyed. In this communist country, owning a Monopoly set could result in more than just a heated family argument.
Fidel Castro had all locations destroyed at the start of his regime. Before 1959, Monopoly had a sizable following in Cuba, with local printers also producing a bootleg edition known as Capitolio that openly circumvented the Parker Brothers copyright.
Love for South Korean Soap Operas
They seem to like the drama of it all. South Korean television soap operas have found an unexpected audience among Cubans.
With their low-key blend of comedy, action, and romance, Korean soap operas now have a greater audience than more conventional Latin American “telenovelas” from Brazil and Mexico. Michael Voss of CCTV America reported from Havana on this story.
Computer Use Began in 2008
In the 1990s, the purchase of many electrical items was outlawed. This occurred after the Soviet Union collapsed, depriving Cuba of vast sums in subsidization and fuel supplies.
Computers can only be purchased by outsiders and businesses in Cuba, and cassette decks were confiscated at the airbase until 2008, when border control regulations were relaxed. Cubans will now be able to easily purchase them, having to pay in foreign cash CUCs, or redeemable pesos, which are valuable 24 times far more than Cuban pesos used to pay state salaries.
The government-run health-care system also protects them. After the government lifted a longstanding ban on the practice in 2007, Cuba began conducting state-sponsored sex-change operations.
Mariela Castro is a sexologist and gay rights activist who runs the Center for Sex Education, which trains trans people for sex-change operations and recognizes Cubans who are willing. In 1979, Cuba reported 122 individuals who wished to have sex changes, and nine years later, the first successful operation was performed; however, subsequent sex-change operations were forbidden.
John Lennon Was Once Banned
Castro made a complete 180-degree turn 20 years after John Lennon’s death, no longer banning his music instead of honoring him as a hero. In the new John Lennon Park, Castro unveiled a gleaming new bronze statue of Lennon.
It’s no wonder that in the 1960s and 1970s, Communist Cuba outlawed John Lennon and the Beatles’ songs. Cuban authorities regarded the music as “ideological diversions” and “decadent American influence” during the revolution. A native species of leaping Cuban crocodile exists. It’s critically endangered and frightening.
The Attempted Invasion
Several times, the United States threatened to conquer Cuba. They agreed to give up in 1848 and offered Spain $100 million for Cuba, but the bid was turned down.
The event marked the pinnacle of the United States’ Caribbean expansionist push in the 1850s. The United States ambassador to Spain, Pierre Soulé, failed to secure the purchase of Cuba (1853).
Beaches and Bay
There are over 200 bays and 250 beaches to discover in Cuba, so there is plenty of sunbathing to be had. Cuba, the Caribbean’s largest island, is home to a plethora of picture-perfect beaches, ranging from family-friendly snorkeling spots to stunning black-sand beaches.
Cuba is an intoxicating mix of tropical rhythms, contemporary art, painstakingly restored colonial architecture and breathtaking natural scenery. With nearly 3,500 miles of coastline and 450 beaches to choose from, including powdery white, golden, and black sand beaches, finding the best beach in Cuba is a highly personal pursuit.
In Cuba, the political importance of Christmas has shifted over time. Before Fidel Castro took charge in 1959, Christmas was celebrated in the same way as it was in the United States and many other nations. Fidel Castro outlawed all forms of Christmas celebration in his country in 1969.
The Christmas ban aimed to hold people in the sugar cane fields to be a larger sugar harvest each year. Since Cuba’s government is atheistic, Christmas is also prohibited. On the other hand, Fidel Castro declared in 1997 that Cuba would only celebrate Christmas that year.
Cubans Are Literate
Cuba has one of the world’s highest literacy rates, with nearly all of the population (99%) literate.
Fidel Castro’s Cuban government declared 1961 the “Year of Education” and dispatched “literacy brigades” into the countryside to construct schools, train new educators, and teach the majority of illiterate peasants to read and write. According to UNESCO, Cubans over the age of 15 had a literacy rate of 99%.
Two Different Currencies
Cuba uses two currencies (the only country in the world with that attribute). The tourists use one, while Cubans use the other. There were two currencies until January 1, 2021, both named peso.
The “Cuban peso” is one, and the “Cuban convertible peso” is the other. Both currencies, however, are not traded globally and cannot be purchased in advance outside of Cuba. Cuban currency is not allowed to be imported or exported.
Import Ban on Cars
Car imports were prohibited in Cuba until 2011. As a result, the bulk of the vehicles on the road were 1950s classics. Cuba’s Exotic Automobiles on Cuban roads, vintage American cars from the 1940s and 1950s can still be seen.
Vintage American cars in pink, red, and blue line up on the streets. In Cuba, several classic American cars are used as taxis. Vintage cars are referred to as “almendrones” (large almonds) and their drivers as “boteros” (boatmen).
The Largest Caribbean Island
In the Caribbean Sea, Cuba is an island country. It is the largest Caribbean Island in terms of both size and population. It is also the world’s 17th largest island and the world’s 8th largest island nation. Cuba has a coastline of 5,746 kilometers and land boundaries of 28.5 kilometers.
The official area (land area) is 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi). Cuba is east of the Gulf of Mexico, west of the North Atlantic Ocean, south of the Florida Straits, northwest of the Windward Passage, and northeast of the Yucatán Channel.
Christopher Columbus’s Discovery
Before Christopher Columbus in 1492, the island was populated by various Amerindian cultures. Spain conquered Cuba after his arrival on a Spanish expedition and installed Spanish governors in Havana.
The New Spain’s Viceroy as well as the local authorities in Hispaniola, which is now the Dominican Republic, were in charge of the administrators in Cuba.
Slavery Was Abolished in 1886
The Cuban slave trade continued until 1867, long after the slave trade in other parts of the Atlantic had ended. Until 1880, it was legal to own human beings as chattel slaves.
Slavery would not be abolished systemically until chattel slavery was abolished. In 1886, a Spanish royal decree abolished slavery in Cuba, making it one of the few nations in the Western Hemisphere to do so.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cuba are as diverse as the country itself in terms of natural and cultural diversity. It’s no surprise that it has nine world heritage sites.
A place must “be of outstanding universal value, demonstrating international significance;” it must “transcend national borders and be of shared interest for present and future generations of all humanity” to be added to the world heritage list. Over the years, Cuba has managed to retain its heritage, culture, and ambiance. One of the cultural world heritage sites is in Old Havana.
The Mount Iberia Frog
Cuba is also home to the world’s tiniest frog. According to science, the world’s smallest frog compensates for its small scale by delivering a potent dose of venom.
The Mt. Iberia frog (Eleutherodactylus Iberia) from Cuba represents the Guinness World Record for the shortest frog with a body length of just 10 millimeters. Research suggests that these dwarfs adapted their small size to help feed on mites that more giant frogs would miss. The Dwarfs’ frogs secrete naturally occurring substances on their shells.
About Poor Roads in Cuba
Cuba only has 38,000 miles of highways, nearly half of them poorly maintained. Motoring in Cuba can be troublesome, particularly at night. Major roads may not be lit, and road markings may be missing or confusing.
The weak state of Cuban highways, along with lousy driving and automobile technological harm caused by centuries of corruption, has contributed to a rise in traffic incidents, with a total of 29 daily injuries in the first half of 2019.
The game of dominoes is Cuba’s national pastime. For several, the sport is a regular social experience that brings together rivalry and a sense of community. In gardens and other public places, you’ll sometimes see citizens playing sports.
This practice is held active in the United States at Maximo Gomez Domino Park on Calle Ocho in Miami. Several “Los Veteranos” — elderly Cuban men, many of whom smoke cigars and don the typical guayabera top — hold many desks busy at all times.
Multiple bays, beautiful beaches, aquatic vegetation, marine ecosystems, and rocky cliffs define Cuba’s wild, scenic coastline, which stretches for nearly 3,570 miles (5,745 kilometers). In the center, there are several impressive crevasses, like the 16-mile-long (26-km-long) Cave of Santo Tomás in southwestern Cuba’s Sierra Quemado.
An underwater platform surrounds the largest island, occupying a further 30,000 sq miles (78,000 square km). Los Colorados, to the north and west; Sabana and Camagüey, all off the northern shore; the Jardines de la Reina (“Queen’s Gardens”), along the central coast; and Canarreos are one of the many cays and archipelagoes that encircle the outer islands.
Cuba’s Community Party
The Communist Party has controlled Cuba since 1965, which is the only legitimate Democratic Party in the country. The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), also known as the Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC), is a Cuban communist party established in 1965 by Fidel Castro and many others, but with roots going back 1923.
It had been the only party allowed to operate in Cuba under the 1976 legislation, and it was described as the “regulated guardian of the Cuban government” in the 1992 revision.
Baseball Is Cuba’s Favorite Sport
Baseball is the most prestigious tournament in Cuba. Other sports events and leisure activities usually involve boxing (Cuban boxing training is a significant influence in big matches), volleyball, wrestling, basketball, sailing, and trekking.
In the 1870s, until U.S. involvement, it was the most popular game in the country. Even after its American origins, baseball is closely linked to Cuban nationalism, as it replaced Spanish colonial sports like bullfighting.
The Cauto River
Cauto River is the longest river in the districts of Granma and Santiago de Cuba in eastern Cuba. It stretches for 230 miles (370 kilometers) from its origin in the Sierra Maestra west coast through basaltic plains into the Golfo (gulf) de Guacanayabo it the region’s longest river.
The Salado, Bayamo, and Contramaestre rivers are among its headwaters. It can be navigated for about 70 miles. Along its route, rice, sugar beets, tobacco, and cattle are grown.
Voting in Cuba Is Legally Mandatory
All voters above the age of 16 are eligible to vote in local, state, and parliamentary elections as far as they are not physically ill or incarcerated.
There are no general elections in Cuba. It’s also hard to say how much fraud is a significant consideration in today’s voting procedures. The President is chosen by the Legislative Council, which is an approved institution.
Pico Turquino is Cuba’s tallest peak. In the Sierra Maestra rock formation in the community of Guamá, Santiago de Cuba Province, in the southeastern corner of the island. Through Fidel Castro’s insurrection in 1957, he and his troops reached the summit.
Since it was Cuba’s tallest mountain, the peak had “almost magical meaning” to the rebels. The tallest peak in Cuba is located in the Pico Turquino National Park. The tiny village of Santo Domingo connects directly to this heavily wooded, remote area.
Ernest Hemingway Lived Here for Twenty Years
Ernest Hemingway was a novelist, short story writer, journalist, and sportsman from the United States. His economical and understated style, which he coined the “iceberg theory,” had a significant influence on twentieth-century literature.
At the same time, his wide and curious lifestyle and public image earned him respect from later generations. In other words, despite the travel ban, the prolific American author spent twenty years in Cuba.
Bacardi rum is a Cuban rum that was first produced there. After Fidel Castro took power, the production was transferred to Puerto Rico. The Bacardi family was a staunch supporter of the Cuban revolution.
They later went on to back Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. Fidel Castro did not advertise himself as a communist at the start of his campaign. Instead, he positioned himself as a liberal reformer seeking to end the American empire’s economic control over Cuba.
Although Coca-Cola founded a bottling plant in 1906, production was halted in 1962 when Fidel Castro led the Cuban Revolution, which ousted former President Batista. Castro’s government started stealing properties controlled by all foreign countries with a presence in Cuba and enacting a trade embargo.
The seizure began on August 6, 1960, and was aimed at American businesses. Coca-Cola left, never to be seen again. No American companies can trade with Cuba because the United States maintains a commercial, economic, and financial embargo against the country.
Strange Ways to Be Rude
You should be aware of one cultural quirk about Cubans: they consider public nose-blowing to be exceptionally impolite. It’s best to excuse yourself and take care of business in private if you have a cold or allergies.
The same can be said for spitting in public, which most civilized people despise but see casually tolerated in many places.
The Libre Cocktail
This is a highball cocktail made with cola, rum, and lime juice, which is served over ice in many recipes. Coca-Cola is traditionally used as the cola ingredient, with a light rum such as Bacardi as the alcohol.
The drink can be made with various rums and cola brands, and lime juice can be added or left out. In the early twentieth century, the cocktail was created in Cuba, following the country’s independence during the Spanish–American War. It is a popular alcoholic beverage due to its simple recipe and inexpensive, readily available ingredients.
About Fidel Castro’s Famous Beard
From 1959 to 2006, Fidel Castro, the founder of the Cuban Revolution, ruled his country for 47 years. Since his supply of razors was cut off due to the U.S. embargo, he grew a beard. Castro retained his beard long after his guerrilla days as a sign of the revolution’s victory.
His beard had become such a powerful emblem that the CIA devised (but never carried out) a scheme to make it fall out by placing a soluble depilatory in Castro’s shoes that could be easily absorbed through the skin.
Why Cuban Cigars Are Unique
Cuban cigars have a reputation for being the most abundant tobacco product on the planet. Thousands of dollars can be spent on a shipment of high-quality Habanos. From seed to cigar, each hand-rolled Cuban cigar goes through about 500 manual tasks.
Before signing, President John F. Kennedy was able to procure 1,200 Cuban cigars for himself. In a 1992 post, Pierre Salinger, President Kennedy’s press secretary, remembered how JFK demanded “Only 1,000 Petit Upmanns” by the following day.
“Operation Castration” was the CIA’s invasion of Cuba to assassinate Castro. The CIA devised at least eight plans to assassinate or discredit Castro, including an exploding seashell.
Fidel Castro had taken power in Cuba in 1959. The plan called for instilling public support for a war against Cuba by blaming it for terrorist attacks that the U.S. government would carry out.
One Premium Habano Company
Puros and Habanos are two terms used to describe Cuban cigars. All of the country’s premium brands are produced by a single company.
Cohiba is a brand name for two types of premium cigars: one made in Cuba for Habanos S.A., the Cuban state-owned tobacco company, and the other made in the Dominican Republic for General Cigar Company, based in the United States.
Cuban Missile Crisis
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuba had over 150 nuclear missiles. The Missile Scare, also known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, was a one-month standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that turned into an international crisis.
Notwithstanding the brief duration, the Cuban Missile Crisis persists a watershed moment in American public safety and nuclear war planning. The conflict is widely regarded as the nearest the Cold War ever came to devolving into a full-fledged nuclear conflict.