Great Houses of Havana celebrates one hundred years of creativity, design, and style that made the city "the Paris of the Caribbean." For four hundred years, Havana was the center of Spanish trade in the western hemisphere. With the expansion of the sugar industry, independence from Spain, and North American investment, Havana became a city of great wealth, great style, and great houses in a vocabulary that was a unique amalgam of European, American, and Caribbean elements. Great Houses of Havana traces the evolution of the Cuban home from the classic, Spanish colonial courtyard house to the "Tropical Modernist" villas of the 1950s- houses reflecting international architecture trends while remaining true to the Cuban tradition. Cuba's social history is woven throughout the book. Vintage photographs illustrate Havana's sophisticated lifestyle - the masked balls, yacht club picnics, and dynastic weddings of fashionable Cubans and their international guests. Popular cafes, hotels, theaters, and weekend resorts are also featured, creating a view of the privileged life inside the gated mansions of the city's grandest neighborhoods.