NEW YORK – Standard bearer and heart of the Spanish presence in New York, the historic cultural center La Nacional is hosting, from this Tuesday until Oct. 31, a photo exhibition organized by Iberia Airlines and Agencia EFE portraying the Spanish presence in the United States.
In his inauguration speech side-by-side with Iberia CEO Luis Gallego and EFE President Fernando Garea, Antonio Morales, director of La Nacional, the Spanish Benevolent Society of New York, recalled the close relations of the institution with the airline “during the difficult years of Spanish immigration to New York,” as a means of transportation to bring separated families back together.
La Nacional is an institution that dates back to 1868 and which at the beginning was the Spanish Benevolent Society.
Its goal was always to promote, foster and disseminate the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity among Spaniards and Hispanics living in the United States.
On Tuesday it made a show of its 100-year-old hospitality by opening a three-week photo exhibit organized by Iberia and EFE, Spain’s international news agency, entitled “Spain in the USA: A great past, a brilliant present and a promising future.”
The show portrays Spain’s presence in the United States in such areas as culture, sports and diplomatic relations, evidence of the strong bonds that unite the two countries.
La Nacional, which displays on its façade a large Spanish flag and another of the United States, is located in Manhattan’s Chelsea district.
The area around La Nacional was a neighborhood known as Little Spain for its large concentration of Spanish immigrants – some 15,000 eventually came to live there – and of services and restaurants run by families of Spanish descent.
The Spanish Benevolent Society enrolled some 7,000 members, mostly Spaniards but also Cubans of Spanish origin.
In La Nacional, Spanish immigrants could look for jobs and get meals, lodging and healthcare, since the building had two floors occupied by a hospital in a country with hardly any medical coverage for new arrivals.