Havana Construction XX Century.

The century starts with a country destroyed by thirty years of war. Especially in rural areas, there was a desperate situation and the fields were not being farmed.  When the American intervention ended, it began a period of economic domination which substituted the archaic methods the Spaniardsapplied in the colonies for the most refined procedures of Neo-colonialism.
The development of the construction industry since early 20th century had no equal. This was the result of the increasing population and the use of new building materials like cement. Although it was discovered in 19th century, it would not become popular until then. From 1899 to 1919 the number of people virtually doubled as a consequence of the need for labor in the expanding sugar industry. In addition, the urban population increased from 51% to 57% (1931-1953); that means 1 500 000 people moved to the city. This generated new houses and neighborhoods. It also encouraged the development of the communication media and other services necessary in the growing urban areas. At the same time, other industries flourished to satisfy consumerism.
The Malecon
Under the Government responsible of the intervention, engineers Mr. Mead and Mr. Whitney started to build the first segment of this wonderful construction, which extended from the Castillo de la Punta to the Campos Eliseos, in 1901. On May 20th 1902 after the intervention, the Malecon had been built untilCrespo Street; that means five hundred meters. At the beginning of the construction, there were some difficulties with the foundation due to the irregular surface of the reef. This is the reason why they used concrete. The American project included trees and great lamps on the Malecon; however this idea was ruled out when the winter came and the first “North” arrived. The process of building the Malecon continued under different administrations; and in 1909 it extended until BelascoaínStreet. In the corner with San LázaroStreet, the Vista Alegre bar was built. 
The Church of the Sacred Heart
In Reina Street, the Jesuit order started to build this church and convent on August 7th, 1914. It was inaugurated on May 3rd, 1923.
The Jesuit architect Gorgoza designed it in a pure gothic style. In addition, the design of the greatest altar was implemented by priest S. Granda. It has three naves and three doors with a large transept. It also has colorful-crystal windows. Nevertheless, it is its graceful stone-made tower what stands out. It rises by 77 meters; and it has a four-meter bronze cross on top.

The Episcopal Cathedral in Vedado
In 1947, the Cuban Episcopal Church decided to build a new cathedral in the corner of 5th and 6thStreets in the tranquil neighborhood of Vedado. The religious order abandoned the previous church built by Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson in Águila and Neptuno.
Architects from Coffin & Coffin were in charge of the construction. It has a rectangular floor with enough seats for 300 people. The walls and the ceilingwere made of bricks and concrete, respectively. The latter is supported by beams which are at the same time supported by large parabolic arches of the same material. The tower is solid and strong. It has simple lines; and it is on the left of the Church. It was built with a concrete structure. The construction finished in 1948.
Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Churchin 7th Avenue and 60th Street, Miramar
In 1959, this church was completely built in a very modern style. It was made of reinforced concrete; and it is capable of accommodating 250 people. The cost reached the amount of 60 000 pesos, including the central air conditioning devices.
Saint Rita?s Church
It was built in a modern-style during the first half of the 1940s. It is located in 5th Avenue and 26th Street, Miramar. Architect Víctor Morales was responsible for the Project. He set a beautiful star-shaped rosette on the facade. In addition, he situatedsculptures of the four evangelists Saint Lucas, Saint Marcus, Saint John y Saint Mathew on the four pillars which bring out the beauty of the three doors.
The greatest altar has a sculpture with a modern and stylized image of Saint Rita, made by the well-known sculptor Rita Longa. The marble used is from Placetas and Sagua la Grande. On the background, it was set an enormous plate of Mexican onyx. The semi-elliptical arches made of reinforced concrete stand out in the interior. They were designed by architects Luis Morales and Miguel Villa. 
The Methodist Church and University Student Center in Vedado
In 1951, architect Ricardo E. Franklin Acosta won the Gold Medal Prize annually offered by the National College of Architects for the most outstanding work of the year. The Church was built in the corner of K and 25th Streets, Vedado. It had several classrooms, a conference room, a store, and a changing roomon the lower floor.On the upper one, there were the Church and rooms for the ministers and the staff. Adjoining the Church, a two-floor building was constructed. It had offices, study rooms, two houses, and a library.

The Linea Tunnel
Its capacity was calculated so that 2 500 vehicles could pass along each path every hour. During the construction, 35 000m3 of concrete were used, 1 276t of steel, 2 650t of steel beams, 10 000m3 of mortar, and 21 800m2 of a waterproof membrane. Moreover, 65 400m3 of land, 19 800m3 of rock were excavated; 725 tubular wells were built; and 10 pumps of around 12 and 16 inches were used.
The total cost amounted to 5 395 000 pesos. This number included a loan requested by Prío in 1950. However, this president could not inaugurate the final result; Batista would do it later. A curious detail is that the inauguration was postponed during 20 days because Amadeo López Castro, president of the Commission, was sick and it was his desire to participate in the ceremony. José Menéndez was the author of the project; and architect Manuel Ray was leading the construction.
The Bay Tunnel
The part of the Tunnel built in situ was made of reinforced concrete. The concrete was provided by mixing lorries. In the dry dock built, there were two electric cranes with a capacity of 90t and a 30-meter metal arm. During the construction, the Tunnel was divided into 5 sections. They were 22 meters wide and 7.10 meters high.  The thickness of the concrete wall ranged from 0.75m to 0.90m. The Tunnel has 2 buildings, each situated in both edges. The purpose of the buildings is to inject enough fresh air into the Tunnel every minute. The Tunnel also counts on pumps to remove the water which might enter as a result of the rain with a precipitation of 10 cm per hour. Furthermore, in every edge of the Tunnel, there are 2 water tanks with a 500-m3 capacity to give the pumps 15 minutes in the case of an unexpected shower.
28 500 000 pesos summarize the total cost. The work was completed in 30 months. The construction company employed was La Societé des Grands Travaux de Marseille. The responsible by the French part was engineer J.Fenues and the director by the Cuban part wasJosé Menéndez Menéndez. The Tunnel was officially opened to the public on May 31st, 1958.  

  • 25/05/2015 - 07:46:24
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  • By: Maykel Rodriguez
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  • 2 Comments
Luis 25/05/2015 - 07:57:19

Great article about Havana.


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