Among the many pictures, stored away in the album of my memory, there are two that stand out more vividly than any others. The subjects are separated by half the world's circumference. One is the sunsets at Jolo, in the southern Philippines. There the sun sank into the western sea in a blaze of cloud-glory, between the low-lying islands on either hand with the rich green of their foliage turned to purple shadows. The other is the sunrise at Havana, seen from the deck of a steamer in the harbor. The long, soft shadows and the mellow light fell on the blue and gray and green of the buildings of the city, and on the red-tiled roofs, with the hills for a background in one-half of the picture, and the gleaming water of the gulf in the background of the other half. I had seen the long stretch of the southern coast of the island, from Cape Antonio to Cape Maisi, while on an excursion with a part of the army of occupation sent to Porto Rico in the summer of 1898, and had set foot on Cuban soil at Daiquiri, but Havana in the morning light, on January 2, 1899, was my first real Cuban experience. It remains an ineffaceable memory. Of my surroundings and experiences aside from that, I have no distinct recollection. All was submerged by that one picture, and quickly buried by the activities into which I was immediately plunged. I do not recall the length of time we were held on board for medical inspection, nor whether the customs inspection was on board or ashore. I recall the trip from the ship to the wharf, in one of the little sailboats then used for the purpose, rather because of later experiences than because of the first one. I have no purpose here to write a history of those busy days, filled as they were with absorbing interest, with much that was pathetic and not a little that was amusing. I have seen that morning picture many times since, but never less beautiful, never less impressive. Nowadays, it is lost to most travellers because the crossing from Key West is made in the daytime, the boat reaching Havana in the late-afternoon. Sometimes there is a partial compensation in the sunset picture, but I have never seen that when it really rivalled the picture at the beginning of the day.

The visitor to Cuba, unfamiliar with the island, should take it leisurely. It is not a place through which the tourist may rush, guide book in hand, making snapshots with a camera, and checking off places of interest as they are visited. Picturesqueness and quaintness are not at all lacking, but there are no noble cathedrals, no vast museums of art and antiquity, no snow-clad mountains. There is a charm of light and shade and color that is to be absorbed slowly rather than swallowed at a single gulp. It is emphatically a place in which to dawdle. Let those who are obliged to do so, work and hurry; the visitor and the traveller should take it without haste. It is far better to see Havana and its vicinity slowly and enjoyably, and look at pictures of the rest of the country, than it is to rush through the island merely for the sake of doing so. In his essay on The Moral of Landscape, Mr. Ruskin said that "all travelling becomes dull in exact proportion to its rapidity." Nowhere is that more true than it is in Cuba. There is very little in all the island that cannot be seen in Havana and its immediate vicinity. It is well to see the other places if one has ample time, but they should not be seen at the expense of a proper enjoyment of Havana and its neighborhood. In Havana are buildings as old and buildings as beautiful as any in the island. In its vicinity are sugar plantations, tobacco fields, pineapples, cocoanuts, mangoes, royal palms, ceibas, peasants' homes, typical towns and villages, all the life of the people in the city and country. The common American desire to "see it all" in a few days, is fatal to the greatest enjoyment, and productive mainly of physical fatigue and mental confusion. It is the misfortune of most travellers that they carry with them only the vaguest of ideas of what they want to see. They have heard of Cuba, of Havana, the Morro, the Prado, of a sunny island in the midst of a sapphire sea. While it is true that almost everything in Cuba is worth seeing, it is best to acquire, before going, some idea of the exhibition. That saves time and many steps. The old city wall, La Fuerza, and La Punta, are mere piles of masonry, more or less dull and uninteresting unless one knows something of their history. The manners and customs of any country become increasingly interesting if one knows something about them, the reason for them.

It is only a short trip to the Castillo del Principe, the fortress that crowns the hill to the west of the city. From that height, the city and the harbor are seen below, to the eastward. Across the bay, on the heights at the entrance, are the frowning walls of Morro Castle surmounted by the towering light-house, and the no less grim walls of La Cabana. The bay itself is a sprawling, shapeless body of water with a narrow neck connecting it with the Florida Straits. Into the western side of the bay the city thrusts itself in a shape that, on a large map, suggests more than anything else the head and neck of an over-fed bulldog. Into this bay, in 1508, came Sebastian Ocampo, said to be the first white man to visit the spot. He entered for the purpose of careening his little vessels in order to remove the barnacles and accumulated weed-growth. It is possible that the spot was discovered earlier, but there is no record of the discovery if such was made. Ocampo gave it the name of Puerto de Carenas. The next record is of its occupation, in 1519. Four years earlier, Diego Velasquez had left a little colony near what is now called Batabano, on the south coast. He gave the place the name of San Cristobal de la Habana, in memory of the illustrious navigator and discoverer. Habana, or Havana, is a term of aboriginal origin. It proved to be an uncomfortable place of residence, and in 1519 the people moved across the island to the Puerto de Carenas, taking with them the name given to the earlier settlement, and substituting it for the name given by Ocampo. After a time, all was dropped except the present title, Habana, or more commonly by English-speaking people, Havana. It was not much of a place for a number of years, but in 1538 it was sacked and burned by a French pirate, one of the many, of different nations, who carried on a very lively buccaneering business in those and in later years in West Indian waters. Hernando de Soto was then governor of the island, with headquarters at the then capital city, Santiago de Cuba. He proceeded at once to the scene of destruction. On his arrival, he ordered the erection of a fortress. Some of the work then done still remains in the old structure near the Palace, at the foot of Calle O'Reilly, known as La Fuerza. A few years before this time, Hernan Cortes had conquered Mexico, then called New Spain, and a business between Old Spain and New Spain soon developed. The harbor of Havana made a convenient halting-place on the voyages between the two, and the settlement assumed a steadily increasing importance. A new governor, Gonzales Perez de Angulo, who arrived in 1549, decided to make it his place of residence. The year 1552 is generally given as the time of the creation of Havana as the capital city. It was at that time made the residence city of the Governors, by their own choice, but it was not officially established as the capital until 1589. The fortress erected by order of de Soto proved somewhat ineffective. In 1554, another French marauder attacked and destroyed the town. The principal industry of those early days was cattle-raising, a considerable market being developed for export to Mexico, and for the supply of vessels that entered the harbor for food and water.

The continuance of incursions by pirates made necessary some further provision for the defence of the city. In 1589, La Fuerza was enlarged and strengthened, and the construction of Morro Castle was begun. To this work was added La Punta, the little fortress on the western shore of the entrance, at the point of the angle now formed by the Prado and the Malecon. These ancient structures, of practically no value whatever in modern warfare, are now among the most picturesque points of interest in the neighborhood. Another, in the same class, of which only a little now remains, is of a later time. This is the old city wall, the construction of which was begun in 1671. Following the simile of the bull-dog's head, a tract of land, formerly known as the Arsenal yard, and now the central railway station, lies tucked away immediately under the animal's jaw. From there to a point on the north shore, near La Punta, in a slightly curving line, a high wall was erected for the purpose of defence on the western or landward side. The old city lay entirely in the area defined by this western wall and the shore of the harbor. At intervals, gates afforded exit to the country beyond, heavy gates that could be closed to exclude any possible attacking party. The fortifications erected from time to time were supposed to afford a system of effective defence for the city. They are now little else than picturesque features in the landscape, points of interest for visitors. Taking the chain in its order, El Morro stands on the point on the eastern side of the entrance to the harbor. Just beyond it is La Cabana. About a half a mile to the east of this was the stone fort on the hill of San Diego. Three miles east of the Morro, on the shore at Cojimar, is a small and somewhat ancient fortification. This group constituted the defence system on the east. At the head of the bay, on an elevation a little to the south of the city, stands El Castillo de Atares, begun in 1763, immediately after the capture and occupation of the city by the British. This is supposed to protect the city on the south, as Castillo del Principe is supposed to defend it on the west. This stands on a hill on the western outskirts, a somewhat extensive structure, begun in 1774 and completed about twenty years later. A little further to the west, at the mouth of the Almendares river, stands a little fort, or tower, called Chorrera, serving as a western outpost as Cojimar serves as an eastern outpost. Both were erected about the year 1650. On the shore generally north of Principe was the Santa Clara battery, and between that and La Punta, at the foot of the Calzada de Belascoain, stood the Queen's battery. From any modern point of view, the system is little more than military junk, better fitted for its present use as barracks, asylums, and prisons than for military defence. But it is all highly picturesque.

In the beginning, most of the buildings of the city were doubtless of wood, with palm-thatched roofs. In time, these gave place to rows of abutting stone buildings with tiled roofs. Most of them were of one story, some were of two stories, and a few "palaces" had three. The city within the wall is today very much as it was a century and more ago. Its streets run, generally but not accurately, at right angles, one set almost due east and west, from the harbor front to the line of the old wall, and the other set runs southward from the shore of the entrance channel to the shore of the inner harbor. Several of these streets are practically continuous from north to south or from east to west. But most of them are rather passage-ways than streets. The houses come to their very edges, except for a narrow strip hardly to be classed as a sidewalk, originally left, presumably, only for the purpose of preventing the scraping of the front of the building by the wheels of passing carts and carriages. It is a somewhat inconvenient system nowadays, but one gets quite used to it after a little, threads the narrow walk a part of his way, takes to the street the rest of the way, and steps aside to avoid passing vehicles quite as did the carriageless in the old days. One excellent way to avoid the trouble is to take a carriage and let the other fellow step aside. Riding in the coche is still one of the cheapest forms of convenience and entertainment in the city, excepting the afternoon drive around the Prado and the Malecon. That is not cheap. We used to pay a dollar an hour. My last experience cost me three times that.

Much of the old city is now devoted to business purposes, wholesale, retail, and professional. But there are also residences, old churches, and old public buildings. On the immediate water-front, and for many years used as the custom house, stands the old Franciscan convent, erected during the last quarter of the 16th Century. It is a somewhat imposing pile, dominated by a high tower. I have not visited it for a number of years and do not know if its interior is available for visitors without some special introduction, but there is much worth seeing inside its walls, the flying buttresses of the super-structure, some old and interesting frescoes, and a system of dome construction that is quite remarkable. To the latter, my attention was first called by General Ludlow, a distinguished engineer officer of the United States Army, then acting as governor of the city. To him belongs, although it is very rarely given, the credit for the cleansing of Havana during the First Intervention. He frequently visited the old convent just to see and study that interior dome construction. Immediately behind the Palace is the old convent of the Dominicans, less imposing but of about the same period as the Franciscan structure. It is now used as a high-school building. The Cathedral, a block to the northward of the Dominican convent building, is of a much later date, having been begun as recently as 1742. It was originally the convent of the Jesuits, but became the Cathedral in 1789. Many have believed, on what seems to be acceptable evidence, that here for more than a hundred years rested the bones of Christopher Columbus. He died in Valladolid in 1506, and was buried there. His remains were removed to the Carthusian Monastery, in Seville, in 1513. From there they are said to have been taken, in 1536, to the city of Santo Domingo, where they remained until 1796, when they were brought to Havana and placed in a niche in the walls of the old Cathedral, there to remain until they were taken back to Spain in 1898. There is still an active dispute as to whether the bones removed from Santo Domingo to Havana were or were not those of Columbus. At all events, the urn supposed to contain them was in this building for a hundred years, below a marble slab showing a carving of the voyager holding a globe, with a finger pointing to the Caribbean. Beneath this was a legend that has been thus translated:


In this neighborhood, to the east of the Plaza de Armas, on which the Palace fronts, is a structure known as El Templete. It has the appearance of the portico of an unfinished building, but it is a finished memorial, erected in 1828. The tradition is that on this spot there stood, in 1519, an old ceiba tree under which the newly arrived settlers celebrated their first mass. The yellow Palace, for many years the official headquarters and the residence of successive Governors-General, stands opposite, and speaks for itself. In this building, somewhat devoid of architectural merit, much of Cuba's history, for the last three-quarters of a century, has been written. The best time to see all this and much more that is to be seen, is the early morning, before the wheels begin to go around. The lights and shadows are then the best, and the streets are quieter and less crowded. The different points of interest are easily located by the various guide books obtainable, and the distances are not great. A cup of cafe con leche should precede the excursion. If one feels lazy, as one is quite apt to feel in the tropics and the sub-tropics, fairly comfortable open carriages are at all times available. With them, of course, a greater area can be covered and more places seen, though perhaps seen less satisfactorily. There is much to be seen in the early morning that is best seen in those hours, and much that is not seen later in the day. In all cities there is an early morning life and Havana is no exception. I confess to only a limited personal knowledge of it, but I have seen enough of it, and heard enough about it, to know that the waking-up of cities, including Havana, is an interesting process. I have, at least, had enough personal experience to be sure that the early morning air is delicious, the best of the day. I am not speaking of the unholy hours preceding daybreak, but of six to eight o'clock, which for those of us who are inclined to long evenings is also the best time to be in bed. The early morning church bells are a disturbance to which visitors do not readily adjust their morning naps. Mr. Samuel Hazard, who visited Cuba about the year 1870, and wrote quite entertainingly about it, left the following description of his experience in Havana:

"Hardly has the day begun to break when the newly arrived traveller is startled from his delightful morning doze by the alarming sound of bells ringing from every part of the town. Without any particular concert of action, and with very different sounds, they ring out on the still morning air, as though for a general conflagration, and the unfortunate traveller rushes frantically from his bed to inquire if there is any hope of safety from the flames which he imagines, from the noise made, must threaten the whole town. Imagine, O reader! in thy native town, every square with its church, every church with its tower, or maybe two or three of them, and in each particular tower a half-dozen large bells, no two of which sound alike; place the bell-ropes in the hands of some frantic man who pulls away, first with one hand and then the other, and you will get a very faint idea of your first awakening in Havana. Without apparent rhyme or reason, ding, dong, ding they go, every bell-ringer at each different church striving to see how much noise he can make, under the plea of bringing the faithful to their prayers at the early morning mass."

The only conceivable advantage of these early bells is the fact that they turn out many a traveller at the hour when Havana is really at its best. Yet, as I read the descriptive tales left by those who wrote forty, fifty, and sixty years ago, I am struck by the fact, that, after all, the old Havana has changed but little. There are trolley lines, electric lights, and a few other so-called modern improvements, but there is still much of the old custom, the old atmosphere. The old wall, with its soldier-guarded gates, is gone, and there are a few modern buildings, but only a few, for which fact I always feel thankful, but the old city is much what it was when Mr. Ballou, and Mr. Dana, and Mr. Kimball, and numerous others wrote about it soon after 1850, and when Mr. Hazard wrote about it in 1870. The automobile is there now in large numbers, in place of the old volante, and there are asphalted streets in place of cobble-stones. The band plays in the evening in the Parque Central or at the Glorieta, instead of in the Plaza de Armas, but the band plays. The restaurants are still a prominent feature in Havana life, as they were then. The ladies wear hats instead of mantillas, but they buy hats on Calle Obispo just as and where their mothers and grandmothers bought mantillas. Bull-fighting is gone, presumably forever, but crowds flock to the baseball grounds. The midday suspension of business continues, generally, and the afternoon parade, on foot and in carriages, remains one of the important functions of the day. There are many who know Havana, and love it, who pray diligently that it may be many years before the city is Americanized as, for instance, New Orleans has been.

Most of the life of the city, as it is seen by most visitors, is outside the old city, and probably few know that any distinction is made, yet the line is drawn with fair clearness. There is a different appearance in both streets and buildings. While there are shops on San Rafael and Galiano and elsewhere, the principal shopping district is in the old city, with Calle Obispo as its centre. They have tried officially, to change the name of the street, but the old familiar name sticks and seems likely to stick for a long time yet. Far be it from a mere man to attempt analysis or description of such a place. He might tell another mere man where to buy a hat, a pair of shoes, or eyeglasses, or a necktie, or where to find a lawyer, but the finer points of shopping, there or elsewhere, are not properly for any masculine description. The ladies may be trusted to learn for themselves, and very quickly, all that they need or want to know about that phase of Havana's commerce. I am leaving much to the guide books that can afford space for all necessary information about churches, statues, and other objects of interest for visitors. Havana's retail merchants have their own way of trading, much as they do in many foreign countries, and in not a few stores in our own country. Prices are usually a question of the customer's ability to match the commercial shrewdness of the dealer. Much of the trade of visitors is now confined to the purchase of such articles as may be immediately needed and to a few souvenirs. One of the charms of the place is the cheap transportation. If you are tired, or in a hurry, there is always a coach near at hand that will take you where you wish to go, for a peseta, or a quarter, if within certain officially prescribed bounds. If you desire to go beyond those bounds, make a bargain with your driver or be prepared for trouble. Down in the old city are to be found several restaurants that are well worth visiting, for those who want good food. I shall not advertise the particular places, but they are well known. As the early morning is the best time to see the old city, the forenoon is the best time for shopping. Such an expedition may well be followed by the almuerzo, the midday breakfast or lunch, whichever one sees fit to call it, at one of these restaurants. After that, it is well to enjoy a midday siesta, in preparation for the afternoon function on the Prado and the Malecon.