Hotel de los Inmigrantes

But due to the increasingly accelerated pace of the immigration flow, the building became smaller and smaller to accommodate the number of people who arrived daily in the country. Then the need arose to build a new and fourth building, the definitive Hotel de los Inmigrantes, whose work began in 1906 and was inaugurated in 1911. In July of that same year the “Rotondo” was permanently deactivated and demolished to later build the current Retiro Station of the General Miter Railway.


The new Hotel de los Inmigrantes, located at Avenida Antártida Argentina 1355, was inaugurated during the presidency of Roque S. Peña. The Hotel was a construction with a system of reinforced concrete slabs on columns of uniform rhythm. Considered at the time as an avant-garde building, in an Italianate style. This style had its peak between 1830 and 1880 and represented the transition between the colonial style and French academicism, which would dominate architecture in the country until the 1930s.


It had four floors, on the ground floor was the dining room and on the upper floors were the bedrooms. There were four per floor, with a capacity for two hundred and fifty people each, which means that the hotel could sleep up to three thousand people.

The building, located on the banks of the river and with extensive gardens, was made up of various pavilions for the disembarkation, placement, administration, medical care, services, accommodation and transfer of immigrants. The old Landing Point, which was the first gateway to the country for those arriving from overseas, was part of the property and was located on the site currently occupied by the Naval War College. Once the ships arrived, a commission boarded them and checked the documentation and health status of the passengers to allow them entry into our country. In this way, the immigrants, once disembarked, walked to the hotel, where they were accommodated.


Within the complex there was a Luggage Deposit, the Hospital, the Post and Telegraph Office, a branch of Banco Nación and, fundamentally, the Labor Office.


Immigrants had to store their luggage in the storage sheds because the accommodation was not large enough to accommodate people with all their luggage.


The risks of epidemics, and especially yellow fever, were the great threat brought by this massive influx of immigrants, so the Hotel, from its construction details, responded to the objective of avoiding and/or spreading diseases. Because of this, the walls were tiled, the ceilings were high, and the floors were easy to clean. Also, to prevent the spread of scabies (scabies) or pediculosis, the beds did not have mattresses, but leather canvas.


The daily operation of the hotel began when the guards woke up the staying immigrants very early. The dining room, located on the ground floor, was a space of notable size with windows to the garden and Carrara marble tables. Up to a thousand people were fed there per shift. For breakfast, coffee with milk, cooked mate, and bread baked in the hotel's bakery were served; Lunch consisted of a hearty bowl of soup and stew with meat, stew, pasta, rice or stew.


During the morning, women dedicated themselves to domestic chores, such as washing clothes in the laundry rooms, or taking care of the children, while the men managed their placement in the work office.


For the attention and care of the immigrants, approximately one thousand employees worked in the Hotel, including guards, dining room, cleaning and sanitary staff.


The accommodation, free, was for five days. However, the regulations extended, where necessary, the time necessary until the immigrant found work. They were also in charge of transportation to places where labor was needed.





At the Hotel, in addition to accommodation and food, comprehensive assistance was provided to the immigrant, which included attention to all types of health issues. In addition, there were offices where they were advised on issues related to documentation, rights, duties and obligations. At the same time, on the same level of the dining room there was a voluminous library available to the immigrant, which had various publications, maps and books aimed at informing the foreigner about the customs, work and wealth of their new land. In this space, language courses, talks on history, geography and Argentine legislation, and classes for learning the use of agricultural and domestic machinery were also offered.


The hotel stopped operating in 1953. In 1974, the Immigration Museum (Muntref) was created in this building, and in 2012 the Contemporary Art Center was added. The first highlights the historical, cultural, social and economic importance of immigration. One of its most interesting features is that it presents to the public the experience of migration in its different stages: the journey, arrival, insertion and legacy. Historical documentation, photographs, films, contemporary testimonies and relics are on display. Being one of the most striking pieces of its heritage, the record books of all the immigrants who came to our country.


For its part, the Contemporary Art Center promotes the participation of diverse cultural and social actors, with artistic samples of all the immigrant communities that arrived from Europe, Asia and Africa in the 19th century and the history of those who continue to arrive from all over. South America to this day.


In 1990, under the presidency of Carlos Saúl Menem, the building was declared a National Historical Monument.

The Industrial Revolution caused changes that affected the lives of millions of people and brought about the need for European countries to expand beyond their borders in search of sources of raw materials, markets for their industrial products and new lands for a rapidly growing population. . This increase in population in Europe was leaving new generations of farmers without land. While America required labor for the countryside, railways, new factories and services in urban areas. This need, added to the promise of access to land, better salaries and the hope of social advancement or, also, the possibilities of living in freedom and peace, were a powerful magnet to launch into the challenge of finding another place in the world. It is estimated that, between 1820 and 1924, fifty-five million people crossed the ocean between Europe and America. Among those countries in America, Argentina was one of the chosen destinations.

With the increasingly incipient immigration that arrived in the country, in 1857 the Philanthropic Immigration Association was founded, in particular, which obtained a government subsidy, under the presidency of Justo José de Urquiza, and the concession of the lands attached to the port of Buenos Aires (plots of the current Retiro Station) where the first Immigrant Hotel would be built. This small building was inaugurated in August of that same year with the arrival of a contingent of Swiss. It was on the corner of the current Avenida Leandro N. Alem and Corrientes, and it operated until 1874.

A second building of the Immigrant Hotel was located between 1881 and 1888 on the lot at 1250 Cerrito Street, where today the headquarters of the Argentine Center of Engineers is located, but the migratory explosion that began to take place in Buenos Aires quickly saturated it.


In 1888 the third Immigrant Hotel began operating, called the "rotondo" because of its almost circular plan, which in reality was a sixteen-sided polygon. The building was the work of the civil engineer of Scandinavian origin Hjalmar Fredrik Stavelius. It was conceived as provisional from the beginning, and was used for more than 20 years; It survived a strong storm, which required its retaining walls to be raised to protect the Hotel from the waves.