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Havana’s financial centre past is in its buildings

By Carl Wallace / Posted January 7, 2016

As you explore the streets of Habana Vieja,particularly O’Reilly, Obrapria, Compostella and Lamparilla,  you frequently spot buildings or parts of buildings that remain from the days prior to the Revolution when Cuba was a Caribbean capitalist hub. Banks and insurance companies including many from the USA and Canada flourished on the island building impressive presence in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.

 

Plaque on what was once the First National City Bank of New York

Plaque on what was once the First National City Bank of New York

Some these impressive edifices are residential or vacant but many have been repurposed and are today part of the Havana cityscape. Today a few of the world’s banks have representation in Cuba but in terms of powerful financial towers,  none can rival the impressive buildings (or signs that they were once here) left over from another era.

Today the building continues to provide banking in its impressive hall as the Banco Metropolitano.

The still powerful interior of what is today Banco Metropolitano

The still powerful interior of what is today Banco Metropolitano

 

This building might have been the Havana Stock Market but is also described as The Bank of Canada. Today it is a well known casa particular

This building might have been the Havana Stock Market but is also described as The Bank of Canada. Today it is a well known casa particular

Did this once mark the Bank of Havana?

Did this once mark the Bank of Havana?

 

The one time Royal Bank of Canada building currently being restored

The one time Royal Bank of Canada building currently being restored

This plaque on Compostella is all that remains of this institution

This plaque on Compostella is all that remains of this institution

Bank of NS logo

The Bank of Nova Scotia built in the early 1900s has today been re-opened as a Cuban bank

The Bank of Nova Scotia built in the early 1900s has today been re-opened as a Cuban bank

Carl Wallace

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