Trade and Cultural Exchange

Trade brought English and Spanish speakers into closer contact. Firms based in New York, Barcelona, Havana, and Buenos Aires sent staff and relatives to foreign ports to watch over investments, cultivate clients, and pursue opportunities.
 
In New York, a Spanish-speaking community began to take shape. In 1830 merchants organized the Sociedad Benéfica Cubana y Puertorriqueña to promote commerce with their part of the Caribbean. Businesses sprang up to serve Spanish-speaking residents, such as the newspaper El Mercurio de Nueva York (1828), and the barbers, tailors, and boarding house owners who advertised in El Mercurio's pages. By the early 1860s approximately 1,300 Spaniards and Latin Americans lived in the city, about half of whom had come from or via Cuba.
 
Cuba also attracted Americans. In 1862, almost 2,500 Americans resided on the island, with Cárdenas in particular becoming known as an "American City" for its large North American population.
 
Links between these counterpart communities further strengthened the U.S.-Cuban connection. 

Elena Rionda in New York City, 1894. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. Cuban families who exported sugar to New York often sent their children here to learn the language, business practices, and mores of the country, expecting merchants like Moses Taylor to help settle and supervise their children during their years of schooling. Spain still ruled Cuba, but wealthy Cubans looked increasingly to the U.S. as the place that mattered. Fourteen-year-old Elena Rionda, daughter of a prominent Cuban sugar grower, fondly recalled her 1894 stay in New York. 
Elena Rionda in New York City, 1894. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida.
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