Beyond the Walled City: Urban Expansion in and Around Havana, 1828-1909 Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 20, 2019
  • García, Guadalupe
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • Beyond the Walled City examines the course of urban expansion in Havana to 1909. It begins with the modernization efforts that led to a critical event in the city's history: demolition of the city walls that had, until then, marked its western edge. While expansion to the west appears to be a logical step in accommodating the growing number of inhabitants within the city, urban growth was also influenced by a growing colonial concern with the urban subcultures of Havana. The presence of criollos, free urban people of color, and an increasing number of urban poor in and around the city, all questioned habaneros' ideas of modernity and evoked a fear of barbarity long into the first decades of the twentieth century. My dissertation argues that among the many factors that shaped urban growth in Havana was a long-standing fear of these newly urban habaneros, whose presence forced the demographic and physical layout of the city. During the administration of Captain-General Miguel Tacón (1834-1838), urban planning became a central concern of the city government, as evidenced by the infrastructural developments that gave Havana its present-day design. As the city expanded outside of the walls (las murallas) to accommodate a growing middle class, paradigms of power similarly shifted to reflect urban changes. The result was a reconceptualization of how the modern city would be defined, by whom, and who would be allowed access into its perimeter. In this light, urban expansion emerges as a centuries-long attempt to reconcile urban tensions between social and political classes. The purpose was to arrest the development of those urban subcultures that called into question the image of the city-and by extension the nation-as modern and urban(e). The century-long concern of city officials with the urban inhabitants reveals that Havana remained a city in which the battle for modernization was waged daily in the developing spaces of the metropolis. Beyond the Walled City chronicles this process of urbanization, seeking as well to document the role of habaneros and of memory in the modern design of Havana.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Pérez, Louis A.
  • Open access

This work has no parents.