Paraphrasing the title of the memorable texts by José Martí for his magazine The Golden Age, “The History of the City Told by its Movie Theaters” could be the name of this book by architect María Victoria Zardoya and civil engineer Marisol Marrero Oliva. The book will be published shortly by Ediciones Boloña, the publishing house of the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana. Comprehensive, well documented, agile and enjoyable, the pages of the book take the reader on a tour that goes from the first dwellings that were adapted as movie theaters to the last buildings built for that purpose, in a sort of showcase of all the architectural trends on the Island in the first 60 years of the 20th century. All this is splendidly supported on blueprints and photographs of the time and the present, which are creatively and intelligently intertwined with the essay thanks to the design by José “Pepe” Nieto and Carlos Alberto Masvidal.
Movie theaters have characterized some spaces in such a way that even today, although many of them are closed or have been given new functions, Havana residents still say “Monaco Park” and “Lido Terminal” (both, well known cinemas in Havana), or they continue to meet at the Payret or Yara theaters. This is why the authors have not engaged in a sterile archaeological exercise; they have studied, with an unusual mixture of erudition and delight, a highly significant presence in the material and spiritual life of the city. ▪