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Cuba: Humankind's Imprint in Construction

In the same way the world marked its seven wonders in ancient history, and a similar number in modern times, the largest Antillean Island also boasts monumental works that have been regarded as unique, due to their magnitude and technical solutions applied to them.

The so-called wonders of Cuban civil engineering, chosen from 37 proposals, cover a time span of 72 years, the first of them dating to the 19th century.

That honor went to the aqueduct designed by Francisco de Albear, which was built in 1893 and which still supplies 20 percent of the water consumed by the Cuban capital, delivering 144,000 cubic meters a day.

Considered a masterpiece of civil engineering at the time, the aqueduct has received international acknowledgements at exhibitions in Philadelphia and Paris.

The second wonder, Havana's Sewer Tunnel, was built in 1912 to evacuate the city's black waters by gravity under the bay.

The list of wonders also includes the 1,139-kilometer Central Road, or Carretera Central, built in 1931 from west to east, and a key factor in the economic and social development of the country. The road was built at a construction pace of up to 23.5 kilometers per month.

At the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, in 1956 to be more exact, the Focsa building - a true concrete colossus - became one of the capital's major edifices at the time, with 39 floors and towering 121 meters above street level.

Figures speak by themselves; the building has an underground parking lot for 500 vehicles, 375 apartments, commercial centers and a swimming pool. Some 35,000 cubic meters of concrete, 120 kilometers of pipe for cables, and one million feet of copper wire were used in its construction, for which no crane was employed.

Two years later, in 1958, access to eastern Havana was sped up after the opening of the Bay Tunnel, which was built using new techniques at the time and facilitates transit under Havana Bay.

The four-lane tunnel is 12-14 meters deep, and up to 6,000 vehicles can pass through it every hour.

The last two wonders form part of Cuba's road infrastructure. The first of them, the Bacunayagua Bridge, is 110 meters high, and it was the first work in which structural concrete and sheets of steel were used, in addition to beams that weight 47 tons.

The most recent wonder was built in eastern Cuba in 1965 and is known as Viaducto de La Farola, or La Farola Viaduct. It links Guantánamo and Baracoa and can reach 450 meter above sea level in some sectors. It was constructed on a geological formation that did not allow the use of explosives; so all the work was done using jackhammers.

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