20 Surprising Photos Of The Time Fidel Castro Visited New York

Published January 7, 2015
Updated September 21, 2018

As the United States begins a new era of relations with Cuba, we look back at Fidel Castro photos from his warm reception in New York in 1959.

Fidel Castro Photos Eating Ice Cream

Fidel Castro eats ice cream with his entourage. Source: Mashable

On the heels of a new era of US-Cuba relations ushered in by Barack Obama, Raúl Castro and Pope Francis this past December, we look back to the brief moment in time when Fidel Castro’s post-Cuban Revolution trip to the United States resembled more of a rock star’s eleven-day tour than what some labeled a political charm offensive.

Four months after overthrowing Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, Castro accepted an invitation from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and was in New York – among other destinations – signing autographs, kissing ladies, and eating hot dogs and ice cream at the Bronx Zoo.

Not much time would pass until relations between the two countries would again falter, resulting in the fiasco that was the Bay of Pigs, the subsequent embargo, and the travel restrictions that have been the norm for a half-century now.

Wherever the talks lead the two countries, we can always look to 1959 when, for a split second, Fidel Castro loved New York, and New York loved him back:

Fidel Castro Photos From 1959 Visit To New York
Miss La Prensa 1959, Gladys Feijoo, kisses Castro as a signs an autograph for her. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Audience
The center of every party he attended, Castro had the rapt attention of almost every guest. Source: Retronaut

Kids Play With Fidel Castro's Beard
While at the hotel, Castro meets some kids from the Queens, NY school where his son was secretly attending while Castro was fighting in the Cuban Revolution. Beards were worn by all. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Invitation
Castro is photographed with his invitation to the New York Press Photographer's Ball. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Photos Meeting Richard Nixon
Eisenhower did not wish to meet with Castro; instead he delegated the job to a young Vice President Richard Nixon in Washington DC, who said at the time, “He is either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline. My guess is the former.” Source: International Business Times

Fidel Castro And Grayson Kirk
Dr. Grayson Kirk, president of Columbia University is shown with Castro at an event. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Photos Waves To Crowd In New York
Outside New York’s Statler Hotel on his way to Boston via Pennsylvania Station, Castro waves to his admirers. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Wave
Not quite to the car, Castro gives one last wave to the assembled crowd. Source: Mashable

Photographs Of Fidel Castro
Boston-bound by way of a chauffeur. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Pictures
Castro gives peanuts to the elephants, enjoying his visit to the Bronx Zoo. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Kids
Shown hugging some kids at the Zoo on what was just another day in Castro’s short American vacation. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Tiger
Face to face with a tiger. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro At The Bronx Zoo
Plain clothes detectives and police accompany Castro on the zoo’s railway. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Enjoys A New York Hot Dog
No trip to the Big Apple is complete without a New York style hot dog. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro Journalists
Journalists had a heyday with Castro in town. Source: John Batchelor's Show

Fidel Castro At The United Nations In 1959
Castro goes on a walking tour of the United Nations building. Source: Mashable

Anti-Communist Protesters
Fidel attended the 5th annual United Puerto Rican-Hispanic parade, where he encountered anti-Castro Cubans throwing eggs at him. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro At The Hotel New Yorker
At the Hotel New Yorker, Castro entrances the press with stories of the revolution and ousting dictator Batista. Source: Mashable

Fidel Castro In Pajamas
One of a couple instances where Fidel was photographed in his pajamas, this time presumably in Houston visiting the family of a Texas VIP. Source: Blogspot

Here's Castro on the Ed Sullivan show, also in 1959, talking about US-Cuba relations. His words have a great deal of resonance today:

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.