History of Havana’s Malecon Seawall Boulevard

Malecon Havana Construction Photo

Construction of the Havana Malecon began in 1901. At the start of the 20th century the buildings along Havana’s then ramshackle coastal road were constantly affected by northern weather systems and northern “barrios” of the city would often flood during the winter months. The photo below was taken in 1902, just after completion of the first section of the Havana Malecon seawall.

Malecon Habana 1902

Oddly enough it was the American US Navy Civil Engineers, in conjunction with the US military who constructed the initial 2 stretches of the Havana Malecon seawall. The first stretch was built between 1901 and 1902 and covered the distance between the Paseo del Prado corner to Calle Crespo. The second section and rather more complicated on an engineering standpoint was started 1902 and completed in 1921. This stretch completed the Malecon up to the Monument to the Victims of the USS Maine.

Construction Malecon Havana

Ongoing construction would prove to be erratic; during these decades there would be, for the most part, a 27 year hiatus, in which the Malecon was left basically untouched. This situation severely affected direct coastal transit into, what were then, the booming upper-class neighborhoods of Playa and Miramar. So in 1948, with financial help from numerous private entrepreneurs, the Malecon road construction recommenced until its conclusion in 1952 at the mouth of the Almendares River. The Almendares River is locally considered as the imaginary city limit between the modern sections of Havana such as Miramar and the older sections of the city such as Nuevo Vedado and Vedado. The image below taken in 1959 shows the completed tunnel under the Almendares River which effectively completed the construction of the Havana Malecon as we know it today.

Malecon Havana Tunnel Almendares