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Streets and their names
On January 5th, 1603 in the constitution of the Havana’s Town Council thanks to His Majesty Felipe III, the Councilman Juan Recio said: “I beg everyone here to forget my anger, but it has a cause. This is a mess! Just in two or three places of San Cristobal of Havana the houses are built in straight line! That’s why I’m asking to name the streets for us to know where to build the houses!!

His petition would be accomplished, but not by order of any governmental law, or band. The people with its mixture of chaos and poetry, put the hands on the matter.

The street where the jeweller made a great ring, where the clerk wrote love letters for third persons and the shoemaker mended old shoes..... is called “Los Oficios” (the Offices).

In that way the name of a street can come from a leafy Avocado tree, an alembic that becalmed thirst to the neighbours, a ditch needed in that aqueduct of Las Americas, that supplied Havana City for more than 240 years.

Unbelievably, Gervasio street does not remember any governor, poet or politician, but to the gardener who sowed the first Mango Tree in Cuba. Yes, the streets were named, but not with the seriousness that Juan Recio wanted in the Town Council. An example? The Refugio (Refuge) street. One day the General Captain Ricafort was walking down the street and a terrible rain surprised him, and the widow Mendez gave him shelter in her house.

The governor continued visiting that house, That was his refuge, and the street received that name. The Havana City’s Historian Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring said once that the people named the streets just with its charm, poetry and folkloric interest.
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