Architects propose solutions for Rio

Architects make proposals to improve Cariocas’ lives through urban interventions – O Globo

Did you know that going on an outing between São Cristóvão and Santa Cruz can say more about the history of the Empire than any other area? All these ideas are in the heads of the architects that O Globo invited to propose projects capable of creating scenarios and solutions that would make Cariocas’ lives more functional, intelligent and even more enchanting, if that’s possible.

From the drawing boards, suggestions appeared that could promote true revolutions, from the Zona Sul to the Zona Norte. Among them are proposals to pump new energy into the Port Region – which is currently undergoing a crisis, but is considered one of the most important urban interventions in recent history, ever since the Pereira Passos reform in the early 20th century. Or an ambitious and inspired plan to reclaim the nobility of the Caminho Imperial, with the urban transformation of a 60 kilometer stretch, from the former residence of the Royal Family, where the National Museum in Quinta da Boa Vista stands today (?), to the Fazenda Real de Santa Cruz, transformed into an Army post.

And there was no lack of daring. For our dreamers, it’s also worth persisting with what didn’t work. This is the case, for example, for the project to replace the Tim Maia Bike Lane, which collapsed in 2016, with another that would guarantee the kind of safety required by the landscape.

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The Dream of Making Martin Luther King Greener

Architect Washington Fajardo has a dream: to see the revitalization of one of the main roads of the Zona Norte – Avenida Pastor Martin Luther King Jr, previously Avenida Automóvel Club. There are 13 kilometers that pass through 11 neighborhoods, from Del Castilho to Pavuna. It’s a journey with bumpy roads, surrounded by slums, and abandoned. In his opinion, the route is very important for the city, it has a good number of stores and subway stations, but there are several idle and underutilized areas that surround it.

“It’s chaotic, disorganized, with no urban amenities, no places to meet people, relax, stroll, or play sports.” An absurd urban waste. We could install a Green Line there, as originally conceived in the Doxiadis Plan (made by Greek urbanist Constantino Doxiadis and commissioned by Carlos Lacerda in the 1960s), with an emphasis on urban afforestation, says Fajardo.

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A Royal Road that Connects the Past and Future

To think about the future, the city must not neglect the past. For this reason, architect Rodrigo Bertamé, a member of Rio’s Council of Architecture and Urbanism, proposes the recovery of the Caminho Imperial. Marked with granite blocks, it was the route taken by the Imperial Family, from their residence in São Cristóvão (presently the National Museum, at Quinta da Boa Vista) to the Fazenda Real de Santa Cruz (now an Army post).

“This road currently passes through many city streets and has very little signage. There are only three colonial landmarks remaining. I suggest a revitalization, having as a premise a mobility system that shows an appreciation for bike paths and public transport, and an urban treaty that encourages and values buildings”, said Bertamé.

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More Life for the Renewed Port Region

The aim of a major revitalization project, with the removal of the Elevado da Perimetral, the design of a new waterfront and the inauguration of museums and an aquarium, the Port Zone changed its appearance and became popular with tourists and locals. In the evaluation of Luiz Fernando Janot, however, life is missing at the port. Therefore, it’s necessary to create a program to encourage the occupation of houses and other residential buildings in the region, so that there’s movement, even on weekends.

“I would create an urban plan, reviewing what was done, because there was an economic plan, which overlapped other aspects. That’s why it’s like this now, empty. We have to rethink this, doing a project with housing and commercial occupations in mind, giving support to office buildings”, he says.

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To Not Miss the Chance in a Panoramic City

Rio looks good in a picture at any angle, especially from the top of its hills. Author of the project Rio Cidade do Leblon, Luiz Eduardo Indio da Costa knows this well and imagined taking even more advantage of this panorama: he designed a circuit of aerial cable cars linking several mountains in Rio. The idea was placed on his drawing board after one of the many walks that the architect usually takes through the streets to think about the city. We need to take advantage of the topography, he believes.

“A potential urban intervention would be to execute my Rio Panorâmico project, which provides aerial cable cars through the chain of mountains that separate Copacabana from Botafogo. The proposal would extend the Sugarloaf cable car to the hills of Babilônia and Cantagalo, with a descent in Lagoa. The other, less viable circuit, would be over the forest through Alto da Boa Vista, dividing Itanhangá.”

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A Habitational Policy to Contain Favelas

With 763 favelas, Rio has the national title of the city with the largest population living in slums. According to the latest IBGE Census, from 2010, there are 1.3 million people living in these areas. Just in Rio das Pedras (slum), in Jacarepaguá, there are 80,000 people, according to city hall. The residents’ association there, however, estimates 140,000 inhabitants. It’s these figures that lead architect Giuseppe Badolato – who designed developments such as the one in the Cidade Alta, in Cordovil, and the one in City of God, in Jacarepaguá – to propose a “radical urbanization” of the favelas:

“Rio needs a short, medium and long-term housing policy that will halt the process of proliferation of new favelas. In existing ones, it’s necessary to open up avenues and access points, to avoid them being a hiding place for bandits.

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To Get on Track with a New Look and Comfort

Among the more than 100 stations on the railway line in the State of Rio, two in the city are small architectural jewels: the one on Marechal Hermes, from 1913, and the one at Olímpica do Engenho de Dentro, from 1937, which was remodeled for the 2016 Olympics. Both are protected by the municipality.

Architect Pedro da Luz, president of Brazil’s Institute of Architects, laments that such beauty is an exception to the rest of the railway network:

“I would implement an urban requalification of the railway, with the revitalization of the stations. We have beautiful stations, like Marechal Hermes and Engenho de Dentro, but we need to reform the whole system. Change the look. There are barbed-wire stations that look like concentration camps. There’s also a lack of comfort for passengers, because in many (stations) the benches are old.

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Insecurity and Abandon with Views of the Sea

On the seafront, between Leblon and São Conrado, facing an incomparable landscape, the Tim Maia Bicycle Lane does not have the kind of image that matches the landscape since a partial collapse that left two dead, three months after its inauguration in 2016. Partly restricted since then, what should be a ‘postcard’ became synonymous with abandonment. Director of the Association of Designers and Architects, architect Paula Neder suggests demolishing the structure, which “was poorly designed and poorly executed”:

“It’s a bold choice, but the bike path leaves everyone insecure. I believe in a new project, the result of an open competition, which, in addition to offering security, shows appreciation for what is one of the most beautiful views in the world, without preventing those who travel on Avenida Niemeyer from also appreciating it.”

A Right to the City

In a city full of ups and downs, urbanistic proposals are not lacking when experts think about the subject. Oscar Niemeyer’s great-grandson, architect Paulo Niemeyer confesses that it’s not easy to choose an intervention in a city lacking infrastructure, opportunities, and a “right to (make use of) the city.” Rio de Janeiro, like countless other cities, he says, has a lot to get done and in several areas.

“A place with enormous potential, if we consider the political, financial and cultural viability, would be Barra da Tijuca, where there is a lack of human scale, a lack of public spaces that are more democratic and accessible to all citizens. I understand that this reclamation, with the deserved improvement that contemporary society demands to update modernist utopia, would be an opportunity to become a model to replicate throughout the city.”

Source (PT)

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The Pig’s Head – 1924

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Note: The following article from 1924 which I translated is about the tearing down of tenement housing in downtown Rio. It was said to take the homes of anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 people, who would go on to join the founding residents of Rio’s first favela. The demolition of Cabeça de Porco would also foreshadow the events a decade in the future, such as the Bota-Abaixo, as well as the city’s messy growth in the 20th century. The cartoon above shows a crying pig with a “barata” on it, referencing the then-mayor whose last name means cockroach.  

The Pig’s Head
by Hermeto Lima
Revista da Semana, 1924 [PT]

Imbedded on Rua Barão de S. Felix, up against the Cajueiros quarry, until 1893 there were cortiços (tenement houses), the last of their kind, refuge of capoeiras (hooligan ex-slaves) and murderers of all nationalities. It was the “Pig’s Head”.

A gate or, rather, an immense arch gave access to a large pigpen. From day to day it was dangerous to enter; in the darkness of the night no one dared to do so.

Along the way, hundreds of cottages lined up; rooms that were contaminated, impossible to count their number, would be open coffins, piled up on top of each other and with people inside. Along with all this, were an infinity of buildings, thrown together, with pine board walls and tin sheet roofs. Big stones on them, to keep them there and prevent the wind from carrying them off.

In front of these buildings, a non-paved street. Impossible to cross it from end to end, with such obstacles therein. Here were the tubs of laundry women; there were slings of clothes; a multitude of bamboo everywhere, with enormous twines, where shirts of all kinds and tendrils flutter. Hungry chickens cackle for a grain of corn; stray dogs full of leprosy fight for a crust; trapped enchained parrots scream and, with their paws or their beaks, seek to tear off the parasites that devour their skin; little birds of all species, beset, sprinkle themselves in the mud of their old cages; silent cats, spy frightenly through the cracks between piles of coffins and garbage cans of all kinds. A monkey with skirts, property of an Italian, a mouth-organ player, in an eternal sway, squeaks, showing its teeth. The man with a bear, makes him dance to the sound of a tambourine, whose primitive color no one even knows. A black sorcerer, from Benguela (south of Luanda), with a snake coiled around his neck, jumps and sings to the sound of a maraca.

It’s ten o’clock. The “Pig’s Head” is in its full swing. At first glance, it seems that only women work there, because a swarm of them, of all colors and nationalities – predominantly Italian, Spanish and Portuguese – is seen in a deafening “fervet opus”.

Some wash, others iron, still others in improvised kitchens, stir pots, placed on bricks and not falling only by a whim of the laws of balance.

Almost all of them sing more or less obscene songs. Some babble with the others or scold their children, who whimper there close-by.

The men, very few, work in the shoe repair shops, of which there are ten. From time to time, from one of those dens, emerges a mulatto with a pair of trousers, a belt, and a jersey, known among the hooligans, stretching and opening his huge mouth. Having just woke up.

On one side of the street is a barber shop. The owner, a giant black man who is said to be a deserter from the navy, shaves the customer’s face while telling a group about his exploits.

In front of the barber shop, a cellar draws the attention of those who go to the “Pig’s Head”. An old black man is seated at the door, which he closes as soon as someone enters or leaves. And his work must be painful, because it is a constant come-and-go of people who seem endless.

That’s where “monte” (game of luck) is played.

Naked children of all ages are everywhere; some roll around, crawling through the mud on the street; others, with their bare chest, whimper, confusing the mucus of the nostrils with the saliva and the tears they shed.

Girls, ages 12 and 13, wearing rags, carry other children in their arms or pull them along by the arm, so that they walk fast.

Boys aged 12 to 14, in groups, plan robberies, practice immoralities or tell tales, in a language capable of making a monk blush.

A den of famous criminals, when one fights there, there is no police that dare to haul him away from there.

Armed robberies or assaults are planned right there, in the open, without fear of denunciation.

Suddenly, a ghastly commotion.

There are two black women who wrestle because one wants to take the lover of another, or because she invaded the tub of the other one.

And people join in; and sides are formed, to see which of the two is the bravest. Screams, voices, trills of whistles that reach the street and the ears of the police. But they shrug and says,

“Well, it’s in the Pig’s Head.”

At other times, it is not women who fight. It is men, and then the story takes another shape. There is a hideous shooting, which, once it is over, it is not uncommon to find 2 or 3 corpses lying on the ground.

And then the news runs: – It was “Caboclo” that killed “Barba de bode”. The others had nothing to do with the fight. They were passing by at the time of the shooting.

And thus was life in the “Pig’s Head”, where about two thousand people lived.

In the monarchical regime, it was said that several authorities tried more than once to do away with this tenement, but soon higher orders appeared that neutralized that intention.

In vain, the press complained against that Babylon without assurances and without hygiene and whose property was of many, each one even more prestigious in the political world.

The Republic was made. On December 20, 1892, Mayor Dr. Candido Barata Ribeiro was appointed. One of his first acts was to do away with the “Pig’s Head” however possible.

At 8 o’clock on the morning of January 26, 1893, an infantry force of the police, commanded by Captain Marcellino and another of cavalry, were marching to Rua João Ricardo. A crowd of firefighters and about 300 workers from the Inspectorate of Public Works, the Chief of Police, Dr. Bernardino Fereira da Silva, the Mayor, Dr. Barata Ribeiro, Dr. Corrêa Dutra, second auxiliary delegate, and other authorities followed.

No one knew what that apparatus meant.

Having arriving in front of the “Pig’s Head”, it was like the barbarians entering Rome.

The infamous tenement was invaded and 300 workers with pickaxes in hand began their destructive work. When the dust from the walls was too much, the Fire Department would come to the rescue to complete the task.

The threats of the troublemakers and the lamentations of the women were worthless. Within a few hours, the “Pig’s Head” that had lasted for 53 years was reduced to a heap of debris.

Only then could one see well the many alleys, the nooks, the stores, and the corridors in which it was subdivided.

After a few months, its owners filed a lawsuit claiming compensation for damages and lost profits.

The action was evaluated at five thousand contos that the City had to pay, without a word nor a peep.

That was how much the “Pig’s Head” cost.

But it came down.

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(about 30 years after it came down)

Casa do Jongo shut its doors

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Cultural producers and students protest in favor of the Casa do Jongo

The official home of Jongo in Rio de Janeiro – headquarters of the traditional cultural group Jongo da Serrinha, in Madureira, in the north of the capital – has closed. Casa do Jongo suspended activities last week due to a lack of funds.

In order to demand public policies for the safeguarding of its intangible heritage – declared a landmark by Iphan in 2005 – and the upkeep for its scheduled activities, visitors, students and supporters protested today (January 9th), in Cinelandia, in downtown Rio.

Inaugurated in 2015, Casa do Jongo is the result of the dedication by Jongo masters since the 20th century so that the dance doesn’t disappear. The cultural group was founded to expand the jongo groups and professionalize activities, hence the need to have a space of their own.

With the support of the city government that, in 2013, bought and renovated the property where the institution was operating til today, Casa do Jongo opened its doors. This is the last nucleus for the dance in the city, the inheritance of Mestre Darcy and Vovó Maria and the birthplace of the samba school Império Serrano.

Until last year, the venue served 400 students of all ages, with classes in percussion, singing, sports, cultural practices, as well as serving as a meeting point for neighborhood artists. Three thousand people visited there in 2017.

Financing

With the suspension of the bill approved by the administration of the previous mayor, Eduardo Paes – the main way the institution’s activities were financed – the problems started. The amount raised by companies through the tax incentive law is insufficient to maintain the space’s activities, whose monthly costs are US$12,400 for infrastructure and to pay 23 employees.

The director of the house, Dionne Boy, says she tried for one year to get support for a direct contribution from the City’s Culture Secretary, in the form of investment granted to other cultural institutions, such as the Deborah Colker dance company and the Museum of Tomorrow, however the results weren’t positive. The director questions the criteria for receiving investment and also demands contributions for projects that work with intangible heritage.

“We do not think we have to be supported only by the city hall, but what are the criteria [for direct transfers]? That is not clear, “Dyonne questioned. “We are fighting all the time to have a policy for the city’s intangible heritage. Groups that are 50 years old, 60 years old, like Filhos de Gandhi, Jongo da Serrinha, Trem do Samba, they are projects that are the very identity of the city of Rio and are being undermined, making culture with their own funds, but which in the crisis are the ones that suffer the most”, she said.

According to Dyonne, these groups have more difficulty attracting sponsorship compared to institutions in the media such as museums and dance groups. “We are inside a favela, serving, especially children, we should have priority,” she said.

Regarding the direct transfer of funds to the Casa do Jongo, the City Secretary of Culture, Nilcemar Nogueira, said that it was not possible because of the decrease in tax collection in the city. He informed that, through the fiscal incentive law, Casa do Jongo raised so far, $37,400 so far, to be paid this year. On the pay-outs to the Deborah Colker dance company, the secretary argues that the group is a reference in the country and internationally and develops social projects – with free presentations. He also says that, in the last year, support from the Secretary to the group was reduced from $624,200 to $124,800.

Another alternative to get resources offered to Casa do Jongo, according to Nilcemar, were the three open tender notices made by the secretariat last year. One of them allocated $156,000 for initiatives with an emphasis on African culture, distributed in amounts between $3,000 and $15,600.

The Casa do Jongo did not compete for the open tenders, according to director Dionne Boy, because the maximum amounts were low. “We do not have projects at these [lower] amounts. We have projects for one year, not one month. And we know, moreover, that such low amounts ​​hurt cultural activity”, she said.

According to her, since last year, even with fiscal stimulus funds, the Jongo supporters were paying for some activities. “We were banking this with money from our own pocket, these 23 teachers don’t get a paycheck, they are partners who give classes elsewhere and do volunteer work in the Serrinha. We, the coordinators, are seven people, and are like State employees (with parceled wages). This is a scandal for the city.”

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Afro-Brazilian culture

In the evaluation of the director and other cultural producers in the city, who launched a public letter in defense of Casa do Jongo during the protest, the city hall has left behind manifestations and cultural groups linked to black culture. “There is a component of persecution of cultures from the African matrix, of popular culture, without a doubt”, criticized the cultural administrator.

Secretary Nilcemar Nogueira denies that projects related to Afro-Brazilian culture are being relegated by the administration of Mayor Marcelo Crivella. However, he acknowledged that initiatives related to Afro-Brazilian memory or intangible heritage have more difficulties to maintain themselves, including those related to samba.

“Today we don’t value anything that comes from African matrix. This is a discussion to be had with the entire society. Because if the entire society understood its importance, this wouldn’t be happening to the Casa do Jongo, nor with samba, nor with the Folia de Reis. We still think in an isolated way,” he said. – Source (PT)

End of the UPP is nigh

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“We’re just waiting for the order to get out of here.” The Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) budget cut and the law that leaves them subordinate to police battalions were, for the police, two blows by the government declaring the end of the project. On Tuesday, the vote on next year’s Budgetary Law at Alerj, which cut R$500 million from the MP, removed the little bit of hope from MPs who still saw a chance. If in 2017 the maintenance budget of the UPPs was R$5.4 million, for the coming year the 38 units will only have R$10 thousand. The total, mockingly, is equivalent to R$833 per month or R$21 per month for each of the UPPs.

“We’ve been dealing with this instability for months. We don’t know when it’ll end, the only certainty is that it will end at some point”, says a UPP police officer.

Ostensive Policing in Favelas may be Comprimised

Changes in the structure of the project can lead to an increase in the sense of security outside the favelas. This is because the group employed in the poor communities will be added to the battalion’s operational framework – currently at a shortage. Within areas of conflict, however, ostensible policing will not be seen frequently, say CPP (Pacifying Police Coordination) sources.

According to the text of Law 7.799, which was already sanctioned by the governor and currently in the regulatory phase, “the battalion commanders, to which UPP subordination was assigned, will have to add all the existing contingent of UPPs servants to their operational framework, to remove, transfer, exchange and even substitute the existing command posts.” The document also says that the UPPs will continue to carry out their activities, but that their operational framework may be modified.

The transference of the troops to the battalions can also put at stake the MPs’ R$700 salary bonus.

“The state needs to save money, and the battalions need reinforcement. The name “UPP” will remain, the community stations will continue, but ostensible policing inside the favelas will end – said a CPP source, who also notes the sad failing of social projects. – Unfortunately, this ends all articulation of social projects, which is what makes UPP what it is.

With the restructuring of the UPPs, the CPP will become a “supervisory body”, with its captain having prerogatives only in order to guide and define areas of risk, with the PM general commander deliberating the implementation or deactivation of the sites within the State. The coordinating body, which currently functions as the UPP HQ, should no longer control, for example, the Intelligence sector and the special police unit, which acts in community conflicts.

“The CPP will become a kind of Area Police Command (CPA) and should lose about 90% of its staff.”

Between PMs, there is no more light at the end of the tunnel. Many have shown an interest in leaving the favelas, given the vulnerability of poor vehicles and weapons.

“Everything is lacking. Minimal work conditions and a lot of stress. Precarious vehicles and weapons. Everyone wants to leave the favelas. UPP is an operationally failed project”, reveals a soldier.

Devalued Population

Residents living in UPP areas also did not believe in the continuity of the project. For social activist Mariluce Mariá, from Complexo do Alemão, the UPP was nothing more than an “artificial dream”. For her, health and education should have been priorities from the start.

“The security that we always needed was investment in health and education. If the state had invested more in the human being and less in this war on drugs, we would all have had a positive return. Because the insecurity within the favelas also exists outside them, but within favelas it stands out due to the lack of specific public policies. On paper, the UPP project is wonderful, every citizen’s dream, mainly those who live in an area of ​​risk. They present us with an artificial dream, which cannot be realized. Dreams can only come true when there are people committed to make them happen and that’s not what we see.”

On Wednesday, Security Secretary Roberto Sá lamented the 2018 budget cut, but said the police, “giving 2017 as an example, will seek partnerships to assist in the costs, besides establishing priority actions to guarantee service to the population”. In a statement, the secretary said that the creation of the Public Security Fund, approved by Alerj, could ease the needs of the Civil and Military police. – Source (PT)

Rio’s Messy Growth

The messy growth and limited transport links have caused problems that still exist today

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Santa Bárbara Tunnel. The controversial construction was the cause of complaints from residents and killed 18 workers

A public demonstration took over downtown. About five thousand people faced the police, broke posts, and flipped over vehicles. There were records of three deaths, but violence left other victims: countless donkeys stabbed. There was enough even for the animals, the tram-pullers that cut through the city. All this was motivated by the 20 cent increase (vintém) in the fare, a measure that, today, could be equated with the R$0.20 readjustment for buses that also drove a crowd to the streets in 2013. Workers, stimulated by growing opposition to the emperor Dom Pedro II, made the first protest against the transport structure of the city in Rio in 1880, more than 20 years before the Vaccine Revolt (1904).

“At the time, transportation occurred by trams pulled by donkeys. The lower classes and republican opposition rebelled against the monarchy, recalls historian Carlos Addor of the Fluminense Federal University.

The residents of the then-capital of the Empire didn’t know, but their grandchildren and great-grandchildren would grow up facing similar problems. Expensive fares would influence the proliferation of favelas, and the road network grew disorderly, without providing integration between modes of transport. European cities took more than a century to leave behind their rural profile, but Rio took just over 40 years to take on an urban status.

This accelerated pace, coupled with a lack of planning – two large urban projects developed in the last century didn’t leave the planning stage – and localized development aimed at the upper classes, made Rio the uneven metropolis we now know, according to historians, geographers, journalists and writers.

“The entire urbanization process in Rio was done to the exclusion of second-class citizens, says journalist and writer Zuenir Ventura, who in 1994 addressed the roots of this logic in the book “Cidade Partida.”

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Avenida Central. During urban reforms under Pereira Passos, with the intention of turning it into a true Parisian boulevard.

The Center of Everything

At the time of the so-called Vintém Revolt (mentioned at the top), Rio was a city that existed in function of the downtown region. “Suburb” was a word used for the wealthy, and defined neighborhoods such as Glória, Catete and Laranjeiras, still fairly unoccupied and very wooded. This bucolic setting is depicted in Machado de Assis’s “Dom Casmurro”: the protagonist couple, Bentinho and Capitu, lived in Glória, from where one could see the sea through the window, at a time when the Aterro did not exist. Flamengo Beach, with clear waters, was lit up like Copacabana in the first half of the 20th century, but without swimsuits on parade through the sands.

Urban Rio, however, was downtown. In the early 1900s, a quarter of the city lived in slums. At the time, the city took in many poor people: a large number of ex-slaves came here, people who worked in the coffee plantations of the interior. With poor hygiene and housing conditions, these buildings began to be protested – including the folkloric Cabeça de Porco, whose owner lived in Gávea, which was already a noble area of Rio.

To “sanitize” the capital and make it a metropolis like Paris, Mayor Pereira Passos made a series of urban interventions during his term from 1903 to 1906. He demolished about 1,700 buildings to open and widen streets, and practically rebuilt Avenida Central, currently Rio Branco.

“Rio is a city that was founded to expel French invaders and who, at some point, decided that it had to be like France” – mocks historian and Globo columnist Luiz Antônio Simas.

The “sweep” ended with community housing, and the lower classes had to look for other places to live. At the time, says historian Milton Teixeira, it was believed that bad smells transmitted diseases:

“The poor, who could not shower every day or buy French perfumes, were seen as sources of infection.”

Those who could not afford a ride went up the hill. Those who had somewhat better financial conditions were pushed into the new suburbs, now with negative connotations. They were neighborhoods that followed the route of the railroads, created to transport goods. The trolley, controlled by foreign companies, was a symbol of the separation of the city: there was a car for the middle and upper classes and one for the poor, it was the taioba – on which it was possible to read, on a panel, the specification of who was to use it: “For luggage and those with bare feet”.

The trams that took the Zona Sul route, until the Botanic Garden, had a more expensive price because of the length of the route, which ended up limiting its public. As there was no single route, the meeting between the suburbanites and the residents of the Zona Sul took place downtown.

There were times when social classes were coupled with doses of tension. At religious festivals, for example. In the book “Lucíola”, by José de Alencar, Paul meets his beloved, who he later discovers is a courtesan, while she handed out spare change in the celebrations for Nossa Senhora da Glória, on Rua da Lapa. “All the grotesque types of Brazilian society, from the arrogant nullity to vile flattery, paraded in front of me, brushing silk and cashmere with baize or cotton, mixing delicate perfumes with impure exhalations”, he notes, recently-arrived to the city. Luiz Antônio Simas tells us that the feast for Our Lady of Penha in the 1900s and 1910s attracted the Catholic elite and the poor, who formed samba and capoeira groups. At a time when African culture was criminalized, the police always put the blacks on the run.

In the 1930s, with Getulio Vargas’ Estado Novo government, the opening of roads and urbanization projects in the suburbs gained strength. The electricity-powered trains, boosted the occupation of the North and West zones, and bus lines, began to be created. It was a stepping stone for Rio to take on characteristics of a metropolis.

“In 1940, 70% of the Brazilian population lived in the countryside. In 1980, we had 70% of Brazilians in the city. The result of this is “peripheralization”, a slumification, of urban swelling and immobility – notes Marcus Dezemone, professor of History at UERJ and UFF.

Rio, however, had two urban plans drawn up by foreign experts. The first was signed by Alfred Agache in the late 1920s. He had planned the construction of gardens throughout the city – including the suburbs – and opening roads to connect the periphery to downtown, including three subway lines. The project, however, basically didn’t leave the drawing room.

In the 1930s, the suburb was already housing the lower middle class, including immigrants. According to the historian Leonardo Soares, from UFF, the nucleus of the neighborhoods was established around the train stops. The embryo of the Mercadão de Madureira came about – an initiative of Portuguese and Jewish merchants. A May 1936 issue of “Revista da Semana” featured a report about a huge gypsy camp in the region where Cachambi is today (pg 01 & 02). They said they had left Greece, and revealed plans to go to São Paulo.

The more humble people settled in the hills closer to their workplaces. The slumification had a certain complicity from the elite, who needed cheap labor nearby. According to Milton Teixeira, Rocinha, for example, which became a stronghold of Northeastern migrants, began to concentrate, in the 1930s, workers doing construction in São Conrado and Gávea, including that of the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC). Morro Dona Marta, in Botafogo, which was the first community to receive a Peacekeeping Police Unit in 2008, had its first inhabitants brought there by Father José Maria Natuzzi, then-director of the Santo Inácio College. In favelas without water and sewage, the proliferation of diseases so feared by authorities continued – but beyond the reach of Rio’s public opinion.

“Today, Rio has six thousand cases of tuberculosis per year, which occur mainly in favela areas”, says researcher Jorge Castro, from the National School of Public Health at Fiocruz, for whom the urbanization of Rio de Janeiro meant time was needed to realize the importance of basic care in vulnerable locations, which prevents and reduces the demand for more complex care. “In Europe, this vision emerged after the Second World War.”

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Rebouças Tunnel. Construction of tunnels amplified the connection between the Zonas Norte and Sul.

Still Precarious Sanitation

The Rio of the 1950s was a city of precarious services. In addition to seeing the decay of the trams and the growth of mini buses, Cariocas suffered with a lack of electricity and water. The newspapers brought daily reports on the state of the neighborhoods with dry taps. The supply system of the Rio Guandu was only inaugurated in 1965, by governor Carlos Lacerda. Today, Rio still leaves much to be desired in sanitation: only 47% of the sewage is treated, and the municipality is in 50th place among the 100 cities in the 2016 Sanitation Ranking, done by the NGO Trata Brasil. Historian Leonardo Soares points out that, until the 1980s, many residents of Gardênia Azul, in the Zona Oeste, drew water from a large well.

Between 1950 and 1960, the city underwent a new wave of transformations. The favelas, mainly in the South Zone, became a problem that had to be eradicated, and the solution was to remove its residents and accommodate them in planned and often remote farms and neighborhoods. It was in this logic behind the Vila Kennedy, Cidade Alta, Cidade de Deus and Maré – which, with wooden houses, were to be used as temporary residence for families who had been forced to wait for the construction of definitive real estate. A lot of people just stayed there.

“Some housing developments became problems. They took in people who could not sustain themselves”, says Pedro da Luz, president of the Instituto Arquitetos do Brasil (IAB) in Rio. – The Minha Casa Minha Vida program repeated this formula.

Rio invested in road transport. The mini buses were done with, and regular bus lines appeared. The tram, on the other hand, stopped circulating in 1964, and the trains went through a process of being scrapped. Tunnels were opened between the Zona Norte and Sul, which caused controversy. Santa Bárbara, which connects Catumbi and Laranjeiras, was the object of complaints from residents of the two districts, who didn’t want roads that gave access to the tunnels. Before construction was finished, 18 workers died in an explosion. The tunnel, inaugurated in 1964, would be called another name, but ended up dedicated to the saint because, inside, an altar was built in memory of the dead. Santa Bárbara is considered the patron saint of tunnel builders.

Rebouças, inaugurated in 1967, began to let vehicles through still without being totally ready. From 1976, buses began to circulate through its tunnels – it was at this time that the pejorative expression “além túnel” appeared, addressed to the residents of the Zona Norte who became frequenters of the beaches in Ipanema and Leblon.

The subway only came in 1979, almost 90 years after the first lines in the world. It began by connecting five stations, from Glória to Praça Onze.

“Our subway was one of the few on the planet planned to serve the middle class. This type of transport was launched in London, with the aim of taking the poor from the periphery to work”, says Milton Teixeira.

The city also had a second urban plan, in the 1960s, elaborated by the Greek Constantino Doxiadis. In June 1965, Globo reported that it envisaged the construction of an industrial area in the Zona Oeste, of ten thousand homes for slum dwellers and 7,500 classrooms. Only two of the six designed expressways actually left the planning stage: the Linha Vermelha, inaugurated in 1992, and the Linha Amarela, in 1997.

Unconcern with the environment marked the 20th century. The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, for example, has had several proposals for total landfilling, as revealed in the book “Lagoa”, organized by architect Augusto Ivan de Freitas Pinheiro and urban planner Eliane Pinheiro. The first was from doctor Oswaldo Cruz, in 1894, who thought that the Lagoa, being a marshy area, was a threat to the health of Cariocas. Agache, in the 1920s, wanted the area to be a place to a leisure. In the following decade, Lúcio Costa defended the construction of a university campus in the location. Rodrigo de Freitas resisted, but others did not have the same luck: Bairro Peixoto, in Copacabana, was erected where there was a large base of water.

Reported in O Globo

The Globo edition of October 4, 1967, printed on the front page news of the fire that destroyed the Praia do Pinto Favela in Lagoa, which was eventually removed in the following years. On the same day, the news about the inauguration of Rebouças – then the largest urban tunnel in the world – emphasized that the route from the Zona Norte to the Lagoon could be done in just five minutes.

PS – It seems the article has no real ending…

Source (PT)

Rio Olympics, one year later

I’ve been seeing articles and videos on the topic for a few months but I was waiting for one that could hit upon the zeitgeist. I think this 19-min report by China Global TV Network does a nice job of showing just that.

It’s sad to see but it’s not like this wasn’t the expected outcome. There are so many pressing issues but I feel like if public safety could be at least under control, it’d make a world of difference. For that to happen, police presence would have to be increased by 10 times.

The People’s Pool in Ramos

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When most people think of beaches in Rio, images of the beautiful Copacabana or a sunset in Ipanema usually come to mind. But a few miles from these icons of Brazilian landscape sits an artificial lake not far from a polluted beach.

Piscinão de Ramos, or “big pool of Ramos”, is where thousands of people who live in the surrounding favelas, or slums, of Rio choose to go every summer. Julio Bittencourt, a young Brazilian photographer, was fascinated by its uniqueness. Over the last three years, he photographed the beach-goers of Ramos and was received with curious gazes and smiles.

“There are certain things that you only see in beaches in Brazil,” says Bittencourt. “Cariocas (locals of Rio) have a very special humor, very unique. I think all the humor and irony involved in the images are probably the most ‘Rio’ part of the work. It’s there all the time and you’re just struck by it every time you go there.”

The simplicity of life also caught Bittencourt’s attention. “Most of those people live their everyday lives with very little,” he says. But when they’re in Ramos, “they can forget about work and their problems. It makes you think how small your own problems are.” – Source


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The Piscinão de Ramos was planned, built and opened under the Anthony Garotinho administration between 2000 and 2001. Despite its name, it actually lies within the neighborhood of Maré.


The swimming pool cost R$18 million, which was paid by Petrobras through a collaboration agreement with the State. It was compensation for the leakage of more than one million liters of oil in the waters of Guanabara Bay, months before, by the state-owned company.

Samba singer Dicró, who died in 2012, starred in an announcement for the State inviting people to the opening, to the sound of his samba. “Sunny Sunday / guess where we’re going / I rented a truck / I’m going to take my mother-in-law to Ramos beach,” he sang.

The idea of ​​using money from environmental compensation to create an area of leisure was questioned. The government argued, claiming that the nearby beaches of Guanabara Bay were polluted. The promise of leisure in a needy area, with a bicycle lane, sports courts and clean water that was replaced every four days, filled the place, which saw more than 50 thousand people going there on sunny Saturdays or Sundays. The attraction appeared in soap operas, served as a place for New Year’s Eve festivities and even inspired, at the time, a similar initiative in São Gonçalo (now closed), in the metropolitan region. – Source (PT)


Note 1: See some of Bittencourt’s photos from his “Ramos” project about the pool, and a video made for an expo about the images.

Note 2: If you want to get the vibe of the place, see this short documentary (PT) from 2014 which features interviews with lots of locals.

Note 3: Piscinão almost inspired a future pool (PT) in the greater São Paulo region.

Note 4: If you open up the Veja Rio piece, you’ll see it’s actually about how Piscinão is rather abandoned due to the State’s economic crisis. Since the start of 2016, the pool at Parque Radical, in Deodoro, has become new spot for Rio suburbanites who don’t want to waste time getting to the beach.

 

Rio’s 10 secrets not in guidebooks

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In these times of low spirits – in Rio, even Carnival is under threat – it’s necessary to look for alternatives, to leave behind routine and, instead of only complaining, to find solutions. That was how, thinking of solutions, I remembered the secrets of Rio. Every city has its secret points, places that are almost never on the tourist routes. Landscapes and buildings, old or new, that sometimes not even Cariocas know. Or they’ve heard of them, but have never been there.

I made a list of ten of these secrets, some very well kept, others not so much: there are those that we always pass through without realizing they are there. Others we know by name, but that’s it. They are places with charm, mystery or history. Or with all of these things combined. And landscapes too, which aren’t lacking in Rio. The secrets of Rio are so great that they were worth making a guide about – “Secret Rio” by Manoel de Almeida e Silva, Marcio Roiter and Thomas Jonglez – but I made my own list. And, I repeat, such a list may include places that are right there under our noses, but which we know little or nothing of.


São José Church
Downtown (av. Presidente Antonio Carlos, s/nº)

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This church has a secret. Those who enter its central aisle, especially on weekdays, to appreciate the rococo style interior (c. 1842), realize at once a strange ritual. In the hallway to the right, people are waiting, forming a line. One by one, people go up to the altar – while the others keep waiting – and disappear behind it. A few minutes go by. The person who disappeared reappears on the other side, on the left, and only then does the next one in the line go up to the altar, also to disappear.

What is the secret behind Saint Joseph’s altar? It’s an image of the saint, before whom people will pray. Not just any image: it shows a very old Joseph, dying, surrounded, on his deathbed, by Mary and Jesus. Life-size. It’s impressive. I heard that churches for Saint Joseph, all over the world, have an esoteric symbology, a relationship with the Templars. There are temples dedicated to the saint that carry on the walls the symbols of the zodiac, they assured me. I don’t know if there’s anything magical there. But popular wisdom says that whoever enters the Igreja de São José for the first time must go behind the altar and make a request – and their wish will be answered. It doesn’t cost to try.

Belas Artes Portal
Jardim Botânico (rua Jardim Botânico, 1.008)

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Those who enter the Botanical Garden through the main gate and go to the end the alleyway lines with imperial palms will pass through a lake and end up in a bamboo grove. There, surrounded by greenery, you will find a two-storey building, consisting of an archway on the ground floor and an upper part with columns.

It looks like the facade of a neoclassical palace, but it’s just a portal, the front part of a building that was, like so many, demolished sometime in the past. This is the portal of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, designed by the French architect Grandjean de Montigny (1776-1850). Granjean de Montigny, as well as the painter Debret, came to Rio in 1816, as part of the so-called French Mission, a team of professionals that the court of Dom João, newly installed in Rio, sent for in Europe in order to start the teaching of arts and architecture in Brazil.

Ten years later, in 1826, the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts was inaugurated in a building built from the Montigny project. Brazil’s wrath of demolishments reached it in 1938, so that in its place the Ministry of Finance could be built (which ended up somewhere else). It was a miracle that the architect and urbanist Lúcio Costa (1902-1998), who was then the director of the National School of Fine Arts, had the idea of ​​saving at least the portal of the palace, transporting it, stone by stone, for later reconstruction amid the plants of the Botanical Garden.

Royal Portuguese Reading Room
Downtown (rua Luís de Camões, 30)

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See my post

Ladeira da Misericórdia
Downtown (Largo da Misericórdia)

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See my post

Nossa Senhora da Cabeça Chapel
Jardim Botânico (rua Faro, 80)

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This is actually a secret. There are people who live a lifetime in the Botanical Garden and don’t know that it exists. The Nossa Senhora da Cabeça Chapel is hidden at the top part of this little cross street in the neighborhood and you must ask for permission to enter.

The chapel, built in 1603, sits inside the grounds of a school (and convent) of the Carmelite sisters, the Mello Mattos Maternal House, and is one of the oldest buildings in Rio.

According to the book mentioned at the top, the little church was the private chapel of the Engenho de El Rey, a sugar cane mill that belonged to the governor Martim Correia (1575-1632). It was his family who had brought the image of Nossa Senhora da Cabeça, which gave name to the chapel, from Portugal.

The name of the saint originates from Cerro del Cabezo, in Spain, where an image of the Virgin Mary was hidden during the Muslim occupation. In principle, the nuns allow visitation on weekdays, between 9am and 4pm. But there are exceptions. There have been those who got there and weren’t allowed to enter or photograph the chapel from outside. But if it weren’t like this, it wouldn’t be a secret…

European Institute of Design
Urca (av. João Luis Alves, 13)

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See my post (second half)

Bossa Nova Mall
Downtown (av. Almirante Silvio de Noronha, 365)

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The Bossa Nova Mall is the obvious and evident thing of which Nelson Rodrigues spoke: like that story about Otto Lara Resende always passing by Sugarloaf, but never noticing it – because it was too obvious. Facing Sugarloaf, on the other side of Botafogo bay, there is now another obvious and evident thing: the Bossa Nova Mall, which for the moment few people, even among Cariocas, know.

Right beside Santos Dumont airport, this space – I would not call it a mall – comprised of hotels, restaurants, food trucks and several stores, occupies what was formerly the headquarters of Varig.

With the end of the airline, the building was closed for years, until it was entirely reformed (retrofit, with the structure maintained). Now it’s open to everyone. The easy way up to the terrace, where the Hotel Prodigy’s restaurant operates, is worth a visit. The view is indescribable. The Bossa Nova Mall is the kind of place that leads us to the question: how come no one has thought of this before?

Joatinga
Joá (rua Paschoal Segreto)

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Rio has this unique characteristic: to be a city with millions of inhabitants where, in a few minutes, it’s possible to be in the middle of a forest. Or a secret beach – like Joatinga’s. Among the most hidden beaches in Rio, Joatinga is the most, let’s say, affordable.

Just go down a stepladder. Once down there, you have that feeling of vacationing in some remote place. It’s in Joá, in the west zone (between São Conrado and Barra da Tijuca), in a closed condominium. But anyone can enter.

Once inside the condominium, just look for Rua Sargento José da Silva and on it go down the stairs that leads to the beach. Joatinga is small, it’s about 300 meters long, but, as it’s embedded in the rock wall, it gives one an exclusive, even secret, beach feeling, – that’s its charm. There’s only one problem: at certain times of the year, the wall casts a shadow on the sand and, soon, the sun no longer reaches it. What’s more, during a very high tide, the sea swallows the entire strip of sand and the beach disappears. But these vicissitudes only make Joatinga a rarer place.

Catacumba Lookout
Lagoa (Avenida Epitácio Pessoa, 3,000)

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In the 1990s, photographer and psychoanalyst Hugo Denizart (1946 – 2014) took a series of photographs of Catacumba Park, in Lagoa. The photos showed fragments of the recent past, where the Catacomba favela, removed in 1970, had existed. Denizart photographed steps, pieces of cement, remnants of tiles. Testimonies, in his words, of the human life that had existed there.

To this day, climbing the trail that leads to the Sacopã lookout point, you can find these fragments. Some stone steps are still the same ones that had been placed there by the community. Catacumba Park is an ecological reserve, with a beautiful forest (the hillside has been reforested since 1988). It’s also a place for expositions and adventure tourism. But the Sacopã lookout point is still a less sought after place than it should be, although it’s part of the Transcarioca Trail.

The walk is very quiet and can be done in half an hour at most. And the reward up there is total: one of the most beautiful views of Rio, which includes not only the Lagoa but also Pedra da Gávea, Morro Dois Irmãos, Ipanema beach, Corcovado, everything – and from a less traveled angle.

And returning on the way up to the viewpoint: it is curious to imagine that those stones, that tell so many stories, were also trodden more than 50 years ago by a teenager who was always going up the hill, in search of a party or musical partners. A boy who crossed the Lagoa by a little boat to go to Catacumba. His name was Tom Jobim.

Also see my post and this one on its history

Madureira Park
Madureira (Parque Madureira street, s / nº)

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This virtually everyone knows – but usually only by name. Tourists, as well as locals from the Zona Sul, are somewhat lazy to go to the north of the city, which includes Madureira.

Madureira is one of the most traditional and most Carioca neighborhoods in Rio. If it had no other quality, it would already be sensational for its two bonafide samba schools: Portela and Império Serrano (both were champions in the last Carnival, in their respective groups, to the happiness of crowds).

But Madureira has much more. And, five years ago, the neighborhood got a space for leisure and culture called Parque Madureira.

Madureira Park was built on an immense terrain above which electric transmission lines passed. It was public space, but it was invaded, and families had to be removed. With a 2015 expansion, today it’s the third largest park in the city (at 450K sq. meters long), only losing out to Aterro do Flamengo and Quinta da Boa Vista.

In addition to kiosks, picnic lawns, sports courts, bike paths, waterfalls and ponds, the park has one of the most modern skate tracks in Brazil, where parts of the world championship are held. It also houses the Nave de Conhecimento, a public cyber cafe, and a very well-equipped theater, the Fernando Torres Arena. – Source (PT)

Chico’s superb Subúrbio

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In Chico Buarque’s 2006 choro-canção Subúrbio (Suburb), one notices, aside from the ample alliteration, the journey throughout, and the distinctions made between, the coveted Zona Sul and the often poor and forgotten suburbs. His repetitive “Fala” tells the suburbs and favelas to speak up and make themselves known, as they belong to the city too. His reference to Jesus having turned his back is not only literal, depending on the location of the neighborhood, but of course suggestively figurative. Chico even references Jobim’s Águas de Março towards the end, a symbol of Bossa Nova and the Zona Sul, but he ends that verse with “é foda” to bring the listener back into the scenario of the song. Interestingly, this sort of lyrical social commentary is paralleled in funk carioca’s early days. Below, I’ve translated some of what I’d consider the key lyrics.

Further analysis can be found in the paper A Crônica Poética de uma Cidade (PT).


Lá não tem brisa / There’s no breeze there
Não tem verde-azuis / There’s no blue-green [eyes]

Lá não figura no mapa / There isn’t featured on the map
No avesso da montanha, é labirinto / On the other side of the mountain, it’s a labyrinth

Fala, Penha / Speak, Penha
Fala, Irajá / Speak, Irajá
Fala, Olaria / Speak, Olaria
Fala, Acari, Vigário Geral / Speak, Acari, Vigário Geral
Fala, Piedade / Speak, Piedade
Casas sem cor / Colorless houses
Ruas de pó, cidade / Dusty streets, city
Que não se pinta / That aren’t painted
Que é sem vaidade / That are without vanity

Vai, faz ouvir os acordes do choro-canção / Go, make the chords of choro-canção be heard
Traz as cabrochas e a roda de samba / Bring young mulatto girls and the samba group
Dança teu funk, o rock, forró, pagode, reggae / Dance your funk, …
Teu hip-hop / Your hip-hop
Fala na língua do rap / Speak in the language of rap

Lá não tem moças douradas / There are no bronze girls there
Expostas, andam nus / Exposed, the women walk nude
Pelas quebradas, teus exus / On the hillsides, your Exus
Não tem turistas / There’s no tourists
Não sai foto nas revistas / Photos aren’t for the magazines
Lá tem Jesus / There’s Jesus there
E está de costas / And his back is turned

Lá não tem claro-escuro / There’s no chiaroscuro there
A luz é dura / Light is harsh
A chapa é quente / The griddle is hot [It’s dangerous]
Que futuro tem / What future is there
Aquela gente toda / [For] all those people

É pau, é pedra / It’s a stick, it’s a stone
É fim de linha / It’s the end of the line
É lenha, é fogo, é foda / It’s wood, it’s fire, it’s messed up

The human cost of Rio’s growth

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“I would come back to live here if I could,” said Altair Guimarães, plucking a guava from a fruit tree that survived the re-development of Rio de Janeiro’s once-thriving Vila Autodromo community, all but razed by the 2016 Olympics project.

Guimarães, 61, was evicted from his home two years ago and today the trees, a church and two rows of small white houses are all that remain of the neighbourhood on Rio’s western fringe.

City authorities allowed just seven families of more than 500 to stay on in Vila Autodromo in the run-up to the Rio Games, a decision that ended a decades-long, sometimes bloody struggle between residents and the police sent to evict them.

For Guimarães, the forced move from Vila Autódromo was the final, bitter chapter in a life-long quest to put down roots in the city of his birth.

Evicted three times over three decades from different parts of Rio, his life illustrates how the re-development and gentrification of Brazil’s second biggest city has pushed many of its poorest residents to the edges, mirroring a global pattern. – Source (read more)

In the video made by place, you’ll hear about Rio’s different waves of removals, which you can learn more about by reading through the posts in Deep Rio’s favela category.

The video needs one small correction, though. CDD (City of God) wasn’t built for the removals, but rather to house government employees, as mentioned in my recent Etymology of Rio post.