Havana before Communism. The pictures are amazing.
It was during the presidency of Gerardo Machado in the '20s that Cuba's tourist trade really took off. Hotels, restaurants, night clubs, golf clubs and casinos sprung up in Havana catering to the rich jet-setters seeking luxury. Socialites, debutantes, celebrities like Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra, and American mobsters came to play in the Cuban paradise.
Tourism, and the growing and selling of sugar, was making some Cubans rich, but not all Cubans. What the tourists didn't see, or didn't want to, was the underclass, people of poverty like the macheteros -- sugarcane cutters -- who worked only during the four month season, and the rest of the year were unemployed, and angry.
That degree of income inequality as well as accusations of corruption within the government of President Fulgencio Batista laid the groundwork for the Cuban Revolution, prompting an enduring economic embargo by the United States and the rapid end of Havana's high-life.