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A carriage ride for the upper crust in 1811 Havanaby Linda Rodriguez
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Spanish and creole (born of Spanish descent) elites traveled through colonial Havana in large horse-drawn carriages. An enslaved man (or free man of color hired out), known as a calesero, drove the horses. Aside from being a means of transport, carriage rides also functioned as social outings. Carriage passengers saluted friends, paused for walks outside the city walls, or stopped for food and drink. Women also flirted with potential suitors in other carriages through elaborate gestures made with their decorative fans. (For women out shopping, the carriage also transformed into protective space as they did not enter stores or step foot in the street, but rather had shop-owners bring the items to the door of the carriage.) Per the historian José María de la Torre, around 1811, a popular ride around town included an ice cream outing. The itinerary on this map comes from de la Torre's Lo que fuimos y lo que somos. La Habana antigua y moderna, originally published in 1857. Elite white men and women began their carriage ride at the Plaza de Armas. By 1811, it housed the Palacio del Gobierno (1776-1792) and the Royal Post Office (1770-1791), making the space especially symbolic of imperial rule.
They continued down Oficios Street. One of the oldest streets in Havana, Oficios was named for the shops of artisans that lined either side.
At the end of Oficios, the passengers took a right onto the Alameda de Paula. The avenue, finished in 1777 by the order of Captain General Felipe de Fondesviela, aspired to offer green spaces primarily for the enjoyment and reflection of elites.
Next, they took a right on Cuba Street and onto the ice cream shop.
They stopped at the restaurant and ice cream shop of Juan Antonio Monte. De la Torre notes that this was the only ice cream shop at the time. When introduced in 1806, one cup of ice cream cost one peso.
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