Autos zoom away at the start of Havana Grand Prix auto race. The race ended in tragedy when one of the cars jumped the track, killing four people. February 24, 1958. (Bettmann/CORBIS)
Ernest Hemingway, 56 year old novelist from Oak Park, Illinois, receives reporters at "La Vigia," his home near Havana, where he lived for years, after it was announced he had won the 1954 Nobel prize for Literature. October 28, 1954. (Bettmann/CORBIS)
Modern slot machines line the wall at an upscale casino in Havana. January 17, 1958. (Bettmann/CORBIS)
This photo of Fidel Castro, the leader of the "26th of July Movement", was taken at a rebel camp somewhere in Cuba as Castro was interviewed by freelance reporter Enrique Meneses, Jr., (right), who has been allowed to live in the rebel camp. March 10, 1958. (Bettmann/CORBIS)
Cuban Fruit peddlers stopped along Malecon Sea drive in Havana, to peddle their wares: Mangos, melons, and pineapples. March 30, 1949, (Bettmann/CORBIS)
People paying tribute to Che Guevara. January 1, 1958. (Alain Nogues/Sygma/Corbis)
Navy F7U Cutlass stand poised in the steam cats aboard the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) during a recent shakedown cruise off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. March 2, 1955. (Bettmann/CORBIS)
Havana's Capitol overlooks the city at dusk. August 4, 2014. (Tino Soriano/National Geographic Society/Corbis)
People stand at the entrance of their colonial-style houses in Havana's prime real estate area of the The Malecon seafront boulevard. In November 2011, the government decreed that Cubans could buy and sell homes for the first time since the early days of the revolution, paving the way for a real estate market that has become an exercise in bare-knuckled capitalism. March 18, 2013. (DESMOND BOYLAN/Reuters/Corbis)
A vintage car is shown off in Havanna Vieja, old city, Cuba, Havanna. (Karl Thomas/JAI/Corbis)
Clouds rolling over La Habana city skyline, Havana, Cuba. (Jeremy Woodhouse/Blend Images/Corbis)

Keeping you current

Back When Americans Could Travel Freely to Cuba, Here’s What It Looked Like

The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1960

smithsonian.com

The frosty relationship between the U.S. and Cuba is thawing. After 18 months of back room negotiations, the U.S. government has announced that they intend to open an embassy in Havana and “restore full diplomatic relations,” says the New York Times.

 The move is a big step for international politics, but for regular Americans the improving diplomatic relations would bring some changes, says the Times, including “ease[d] restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations.” It's been a long, long time since Americans were able to easily travel to Cuba—without ducking through Canada or Mexico, that is. Today's news doesn't end the U.S.'s longstanding embargo on Cuba or greenlight unfettered tourism, but it does seem to be a move in that direction.

Here's a look back at the way Cuba was the last time Americans could make their way over, and a taste of modern life for those with the travel bug—should the restrictions be lifted.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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