Havana (La Habana)
Part I covers the years between 1858 and 1928.
Part II considers the period from 1928 to 1952.
Havana Electric Railway built no more streetcars or streetcar lines after 1925. The Cuban government would not allow it to raise its fare, which had remained at 5 cents since 1901. Buses and jitneys, unrestricted by the city, followed HER's routes and stole its passengers. A nationwide strike in 1933 shut down all public services in Cuba. When Havana trams began running again on August 14, passenger loads were heavy [the photograph below was unfortunately retouched for publication in a newspaper] [col. AM]:
Rail ridership declined from 140 million passengers in 1929 to 69 million in 1935. Here is the tram yard at the end of the Cerro line in 1939:
The "elevated" structure along the harbor [see map] was dismantled in 1940. The photograph below, taken in the early 1940s, shows why many passengers still preferred "old-fashioned trams" to the new buses [col. José Huerta]:
The situation reversed briefly during the Second World War. Oil and tires were rationed and the buses almost disappeared. Streetcar ridership increased once more and even surpassed previous levels: 146 million passengers in 1945! The following scene was typical [col. AM]:
Delays, derailments and dilapidated vehicles were common in the late 1940s. These smiling fellows were probably not passengers on these trams which – according to the caption on this newspaper photograph – were abandoned on the street after a collision in the Santos Suárez district in 1948 [see map] [col. AM]:
Everything seemed orderly and peaceful on Steinhart Avenue in Marianao [see map]. Car 65 was one of a group rebuilt in the 1920s with arch roofs. Date of the photograph is unknown [col. AM]:
Tram 591, photographed on Calle Neptuno in October 1949, also had a plain arch roof. Note how low the vehicle ran to the ground. Destination board says "Muelle de Luz" [Frank Goldsmith, col. Joseph P. Saitta]: