Future Rio – 1928

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Top, left
– That little black point on top, at the back, to the right, that’s Corcovado.

Top, right
– Did you see how our favelas became actual fortresses?

Center, left
– Why’d you take off your hat, Brederódes?
– I think I’m in front of a perpetual grave.

Center, right
– Judging by the palm tree, it must be a hill in Glória.
– No, that’s just a vase on the terrace.

Bottom
– How pretty our nature is, don’t you think?
– I don’t think so, but I guess. Imagination exists for a reason…

(Revista da Semana, June 30, 1928)

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Rio Transit Crisis – 1948

Nota: É possível ler o artigo citado, em português, clicando nas imagens no final do post.

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In the midst of the frustration at wanting to have a great blog about Rio but knowing 95% of what’s published about the city deals strictly with violence and/or corruption, I found myself considering a “This Day in History” theme, as well as ruminating over what’s going on with Rio’s public transportation system. I ended up finding the following article(s) from the late 1940s and early 1950s in Revista da Semana via Brazil’s digitized National Library archives.

A note: The article deals a lot with the term “lotação” which is a smaller bus that I’ve deemed “microbus”, usually without legal authorization by city hall to operate.


1948 Started on April 1st!
by Ney Machado

Instead of starting, like in other years, on January 1st – the classic day of the new year, – 1948 started on April 1st, giving cause to one of the biggest jokes on the edge of a real tragedy, – the daily tragedy of the Carioca people: the transportation crisis. “The urban transport crisis was overcome!”, this is the huge joke. And the best part of all this is that they made the illustrious Federal District police chief, general Lima Câmara, believe that this “joke” was the pure truth. Because of this April Fools, which he fell for innocently, general Lima Câmara started banning non-public microbuses, – at a time when the Carioca people are traveling like cattle, standing up, in open trucks, or hanging onto trains and trolleys, at risk to their lives and of having their members amputated, in cruel accidents, as has happened so many times.

The continuing crisis can be proved photographically or with data from first responders, who take victims of overcrowded trains and trolleys. The lines are huge at bus stops – directly responsible for the city’s traffic. The director of Transit Inspection made the police chief believe “Rio’s traffic crisis was already overcome”. The nonsense is as big as one saying that Saara’s irrigation problem is fixed, or that they stopped snow storms at the North Pole. It’s true that the police chief, in a noble gesture, amended and repealed the decree that impeded non-public microbuses. The fact that he had repealed it isn’t something to admire. The appalling thing is that Mr. Edgar Estrêla had instigated the sad and absurd measure.

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The Matter of Microbuses

There was never an excess of microbuses in the city. What there is, is a poor distribution for the routes. People from the North Zone and mainly the suburbs struggle every day to get a place on the pickups and the trucks which are falling to pieces. Being that the area is badly paved, drivers prefer routes in the South Zone, where the asphalt allows for longer-lasting tires. Even in Copacabana, from 8 to 9AM, or from 12 to 1PM, it’s really difficult to find a place on microbuses, chiefly for those that live beyond Serzedelo Correia square. On regular buses, forget it. Even squished like in the soccer stands during a fight, one cannot find a place. And microbuses exploit people as much as they can. All it takes it seeing the buses disguised as microbuses that are starting to appear in the city, whose company is known by the abbreviation V.A.S.C.O. They take almost as many passengers as the smaller buses. The difference is that the VASCO ones have fares for 5 cruzeiros, while buses doing the same route are $1.40, $1.60 and $2. Soon we’ll see these fake microbuses requesting official permission to carry “eight people standing”. And that’s how one solves the transport crisis in Rio. Always against the interests of the people, who are always paying more and more for the ride and travel in increasingly less comfort and exposed to mortal danger.

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…And “Light”, the poor thing!

While the buses are pretending to be microbuses, trolleys intend, little by little, to charge bus-style prices. “Light” – Rio’s Tramway, Light and Power Co. and Jardim Botânico Rail – is using almost the same undercarriage as they did 30 years ago, at a time when one traveled from Meier to Cascadura for one tostão and the most expensive trip was 200 réis. Little by little, Light created sections, dividing the route into two and doubling the price of the trip. A little while ago it managed a 50% increase from the government for all its lines. That’s with the grand promise of improving the vehicles and inaugurating new lines. The public increased the company’s profits by 50% and continue waiting for new trolleys til today. When in movement, each train car carries almost triple its normal capacity. Passengers travel squeezed, hanging on, dodging parked cars on the sidewalk and those that [….]. One tires more during a trolley trip than in 8 hours of office work. Despite all this deprivation, the “sacrificial” Light had the nerve to request authorization from City Hall to increase trolley fares. Thankfully they found an honest mayor in general Mendes de Morais, a true representative of the people’s interests. We’re going to transcribe dispatch sent by general Ângelo Mendes de Morais regarding Light’s absurd requirement. The mayor said: “Improve equipment, increase the number of collective transport vehicles, and better serve the public before considering an increase in fares. Once these needs are satisfied, that correspond to the elementary duty of reciprocity, there will be a basis for a study or revision of fares”. Well done, Mayor! No increases if the improvements only come afterwards. Cariocas were already misled by this very company. The former increase should really be done away with, since there’s no “elementary duty of reciprocity” on behalf of the Canadian company.

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Endless Odyssey

The resident of Tijuca, Rio Comprido, Botafogo or any other neighborhood – even though they suffer a lot with the anguish of trolleys and buses from their region to downtown – have no way of evaluating what the agony is of taking a Central or Leopoldina train in the suburbs from 7:00 to 8:30AM. Nor what it means, later, around 6PM, to take the “Maria-Fumaça” (train) on Barão de Mauá and Francisco Sá, or the trolley on D. Pedro II. Central never accompanied the growth of its suburbs. The trains were always too few, and this evil increases with each year that passes. The result of this lack of control is the alarming number of people hurt daily by pushes and those that fall from the moving train cars. What kind of respect does the management of these rail companies have for the comfort and safety of those that pay expensive fares to travel on their trains? None. Complaints are in vain. The disorganization and the discomfort of the trains that serve the inland lines deserve separate reporting. Twenty-five percent of the civil servants that chat and drink coffee at Central’s offices are completely unnecessary. They were put there by the previous director Alencastro Guimarães to serve his political interests. And the freight prices go up, the fares cost scandalously more, while the equipment continues the same, or worse. Central’s administration has given a perfect demonstration for the last 20 years of how one shouldn’t manage a rail company.

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The “Metro” and Other Promises

The City Council discussed many times the “metro” construction process. The name of the engineer Ebling was highlighted. They spoke for and against the Ebling project. All the city councilors were in agreement that the subterranean train construction project was unpostponable. It depended, merely, on choosing the best proposal for candidates interested in building it. However, this urgent necessity was forgotten. In regards to politics, sterile politics. It was also announced that the city would get 60 new buses, a ridiculous amount in the face of public needs. During the same week, São Paulo’s City Hall received 600 buses. Only a matter of an extra zero.

The Decree-crazy Mr. Estrêla

As if it weren’t enough that pedestrians and drivers have to deal with the headache that is the city’s messy traffic, there’s still Mr. Estrêla, who possesses an old sickness: decree-mania. Almost on a daily basis new orders appeared on traffic, and what’s law today will be repealed tomorrow by a new decree from the inspector of the Transit department. Downtown there aren’t any more posts to hang Traffic Inspector signs – “No Parking”, “Be Careful”, “Private Parking”. It seems like Mr. Estrêla wants to solve the city’s traffic with signs placed on posts. Plaza chauffeurs were forced, a few days ago, to change the starting meter from 3 to 4 cruzeiros. They preferred to refuse the Traffic Inspector’s present and continue with the meters as they were. The costs didn’t compensate. And later the car rental meters went through so many modifications that it started to seem like the Inspector’s Office had a partnership with the meter regulatory firm…

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The Cantareira and the “Kill” Carioca Fleet

They say the Carioca – the Brazilian in general – forgets quickly. They complain a lot but don’t persevere in their demands. The Frota “Mata” Carioca, although relatively new, already killed more citizens than many of the large battles in our revolutions. Last year the collision of a barge from this company with a Cantareira ferry killed more than 30 sad Cariocas. They made a lot of noise and, til now, what happened? Who was recognized as being guilty? Who compensated the families of the victims and how much? We learned from an employee of Frota Carioca that after the disasters – which are common there – passengers withdraw themselves. But for a short while. One week after the accident, the barges go back to filling up. Meaning: they come and go overcrowded. The Carioca doesn’t forget quickly. It’s just that he’s got so many pressing problems that he cannot be stuck on just one for too long. Cantareira didn’t kill anyone many years ago, but in compensation, it tormented [people] a bit. The Rio-Niterói trips, which were done in 20 minutes 15 years ago, are now being done in 30 minutes. And the ferries are scarce… In 1950, when the fares are 4 or 5 cruzeiros, this very route will be done in an hour. It’s a way, perhaps, to recompense the passenger, forcing him to appreciate the landscape more. The ferries are functioning like the stubborn things they are. A little while back, a ferry that came from the Ilha do Governador only had enough power to get to Praça Quinze. It arrived and broke down. It sunk. Cantareira would have to remodel its fleet if the building of a Rio-Niterói bridge or tunnel were to be taken seriously. For its sake, everything could remain how it is…

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Who answers for these homicides?

In recent months, almost 50 people died in transit disasters (Frota Carioca, trains from Central and Leopoldina, and cars). More than 100 were hurt, some forever, crippled and scarred. One can say that in none of these cases there was recklessness by the victims. Those who hang out of the train windows doesn’t do it because they like to. There’s no other way to get home. In the first two weeks of January, two trucks that transported people from downtown to the suburbs overturned  and 73 people were injured, some of them in a critical state. Merchant Antônio Silva Pires, after being stepping on by the crowd that advanced towards the trolley at the D. Pedro II station, died at the Pronto Socorro Hospital, due to the injuries he received. This relationship with accidents – with the dead and the injured – grows month by month. While the Transit inspector affirms to the police chief that there is no Rio transit crisis, the macabre statistics increase. Who is at fault? Who is responsible for so many lives being stolen from their jobs and family? In first place, the authorities are, since they can’t manage to find a solution to the problem. It’s possible that in a few years Rio’s transit problem will be solved…due to a lack of passengers, who’ll all be 6 feet under.

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First Step to a Solution

The lack of transport would improve in a few days if there were a law that forced the Transit inspector and his people to make use of the common transport of the Carioca: trolleys, trains, buses and microbuses, and to abolish private and governmental transportation which brings them to and from work. If Mr. Edgar Estrêla personally felt the agony of a 6PM bus line at Castelo, maybe he would immediately find means of improving the situation. And it would stop arguing with empty words, searching out London as an example of congestion (which, incidentally, has already been proved to him that it isn’t true).

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And as a bonus, below are three short pieces, also from Revista da Semana, about news of a Rio metro being studied and plans being made, in 1951.

What if the Portuguese court never came?

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Tired of pollution and traffic, a resident of São Paulo decides to pack his bags, buy an abadá (Carnival t-shirt) and go to carnival in Bahia. At the airport, while imagining Ivete Sangalo singing, he discovers that he has forgotten his passport and can’t board. A passport? To Bahia? That’s right: if the Portuguese court had not come to Brazil in 1808, Bahia would probably be a nation and the rest of what you know today as Brazil would be a grouping of countries. “Without the transfer of the Portuguese court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, it would be impossible to preserve the unity of what is Brazil,” says historian Luiz Carlos Villalta, author of O Império Luso-Brasileiro e os Brasis. “What happened to Spanish America would have happened to Portuguese America, split up into several countries that, with us, today make up Latin America.”

But, before thanking D. João VI for not needing a passport to skip Salvador’s Carnival, thank Napoleon. Upon seizing power in France in 1799, he began a series of invasions into Europe that would force the Portuguese court to flee to Brazil. At the end of 1807, the Napoleonic troops were in Spain and marched towards Lisbon. Faced with the robustness of French weapons, the fragile Portuguese troops couldn’t defend the country. Between November 25 – 27, 1807, around 10,000 to 15,000 people boarded onto Portuguese ships bound for Brazil – ministers, judges, treasury officials, military, clergy. They also brought with them the royal treasury, the government archives, a printing press and several libraries.

On January 28, 1808, at the first stop in Bahia before arriving in Rio de Janeiro, D. João VI decreed the opening of Brazil’s ports to friendly nations – read England, which had declared war on France in 1803 and was responsible for the protection of Portuguese ships to Brazil. But if the English themselves were able to send troops directly to Portugal, they would have prevented the invasion of the French and the need for the transfer of the court.

“Without the Portuguese Crown coming here, sooner or later some of Brazil’s provinces  would gain their independence,” says Lúcia Bastos, a professor of History at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, who is researching the influence of Napoleon in the Portuguese-Brazilian empire. “At that time, Brazilian deputies in Lisbon’s court didn’t speak in the name of Brazil, but in the name of Pernambuco, of Bahia, of Rio de Janeiro.”

The historian says that Rio Grande do Sul, the target of disputes between Spain and Portugal, would probably form an independent country attached to what is now Uruguay. “It’s possible that this region would have become a kind of Plata Republic,” says Lúcia Bastos. And the divisions would not end there. A new country would arise in Pernambuco – possibly annexing some neighboring states -, another formed by Pará and Amazonas, a nation in Maranhão … in short, the map of South America would be different.

And the most surprising thing: it’s probable that Cariocas, Paulistas, Mineiros and residents of Paraná would be living in the same country of Rio de Janeiro. “Even so, the city of Rio would probably be very different from what it is today,” says Luiz Celso Villalta. “As it wouldn’t have been the seat of the Portuguese court, the physiognomy of the urban downtown would be similar to that of a city like Olinda, without actual nineteenth-century buildings.”

Economic inequality between regions would be less. “The Southeast would remain an important economic center, but some Northeastern countries, free from the power of Rio de Janeiro, could have become richer,” says Lúcia Bastos. “The abolition of slaves would also have occurred much earlier in these states, since the delay in making this decision was supported by the coffee elite in the Southeast.” In the state of Ceará, for example, slavery had been practically abolished since 1870.

Another scenario would be for the Portuguese court to not come to Brazil and thus fall into the hands of Napoleon. “This is what happened to Spain, which was taken by France in 1808,” says Villalta. “What would probably have happened in Brazil is the same as in the Spanish colonies, which became independent.” Not having to be faithful to a king dethroned by Napoleon, the provinces would have soon attained independence. “In one way or another, it would almost be certain that the territory that’s known today as Brazil would be fragmented,” says the historian.

Even the Carioca accent wouldn’t exist if the Portuguese court hadn’t reached Brazil in the nineteenth century. “It’s clear that the arrival of 15,000 people in Rio de Janeiro has changed the way the majority of the population speaks,” says Ataliba de Castilho, a professor of Philology and Portuguese Language at USP. “It was more prestigious to speak like the Portuguese nobles, so population of Rio de Janeiro assimilated all the shh-sounds that today distinguish typical carioca speech.” He says that without the court’s arrival, there probably wouldn’t be many differences between the speech of a carioca surfer or a sertanejo singer from inland São Paulo. – Source (PT)

If Rio was still the capital

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The following is a 2003 article I translated from SuperInteressante

Lula would already have a lot of people protesting at his doorstep. “This was the first idea that came to political scientist Carlos Novaes’ mind when thinking about a scenario where Rio de Janeiro is still the seat of the current government. In fact, if the capital were still on the seafront, public pressure on the federal government’s decisions would be much greater than what it is in Brasilia. The urbanization of Rio de Janeiro would make it possible to gather large masses in protest movements. Suffice it to say that in today’s Rio there are about 4,600 inhabitants per square kilometer. In Brasilia, the number drops to 350.

And this contingent would be much larger if the ‘Marvelous City’ still housed the federal administration. From 1960, the year the capital was transferred, til 2000, the date of the last census, Rio’s population was the least developed among [the country’s] capitals. It can’t be said that Rio would keep pace with Sao Paulo’s growth, nor that it would receive the migrants that populated Brasilia. After all, the capital of São Paulo experienced an unusual demographic explosion, motivated by industrialization, and the new Federal District was born out of nowhere, attracting many people interested in its construction. But it can be said that the change of capital stimulated two types of movement, which contributed to the emptying of Rio: immigrants began to prefer destinations such as São Paulo and Brasília, instead of the old capital, and former residents emigrated, some involved with Federal bureaucracy, others by the fall of the quality of life in the city.

In fact, the loss of capital status took the money linked to the presence of the bureaucracy with it, generating an impoverished city, which would culminate over the years in the growth of informality and the escalation of violence. According to sociologist Luís Antônio de Souza, from the Center for Studies on Violence at the University of São Paulo, the presence of the federal government could have avoided many of the hardships suffered by Cariocas in the last 40 years. “There could be greater control over drug and arms trafficking, with the presence of the Three Powers.” Souza does not, however, rule out another panorama, one that’s much more pessimistic. As a capital, Rio would receive a greater influx of immigrants, it would see the slums and suburbs grow even more and the richer and more secure areas would isolate themselves permanently. “In that case, the city would be even more violent.”

At the same time that Rio de Janeiro was emptying, Brasília was growing, based on massive foreign loans and inflationary financing. It’s estimated that the construction of the new Federal District cost 2 – 3% of the GDP over four years of construction. In current values, this would represent an investment of R$6 to 10 billion per year, a figure similar to Rio’s annual budget, estimated at R$8 billion for 2003. In other words, without Brasilia, our external debt would certainly be lower and, consequently, interest today would be lower.

But Brasilia’s construction had other consequences, in addition to burdening the public coffers. First, it stimulated the settlement of some regions in the Midwest, especially around the new city and along the highways built to link the capital to the rest of the country. Without this impulse, the country’s interior would still be a kind of far-west, half lawless, isolated for thousands of miles from the center of power. In addition, the change of the capital gave birth to a professional class that was nurtured not only with a lot of money, but with power to interfere in Brazilian political life: building contractors. “There was a lot of promiscuity in dealing with this type of businessman,” says Maria Victoria Benevides, a political scientist.

Brasília, however, didn’t just create political and economic problems. Some of Brazil’s main rock bands were born in the Central Plateau in the 80s. According to critic Arthur Dapieve, “the most politically engaged portion of our rock music was born there.” And it wasn’t by accident. The proximity of power, contact with foreign cultures through the sons of ambassadors, and the fact that most Brazilian rockers have parents linked to the civil service are some reasons for the emergence of this movement in the Federal District. Without this, say goodbye to verses by Legião Urbana, Plebe Rude, Capital Inicial and Raimundos. – Source (PT)


According to another article (PT) from the same magazine, about what would happen if Brazil was split up into different countries, the Republic of Rio – with its oil fields, port, tourism and cosmopolitan vibe – would have become the Singapore of South America.

If you’re interested in this kind of thing, I’ll soon publish another translation about what would Brazil have been like had the Portuguese court not come to Rio.

Builders of the City – 1921

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May 28, 1921

The announcement that the city government plans to excavate the Morro do Castelo to make an artificial inlet in Glória provoked a wave of protests, as violent as the undertow, the irreconcilable enemy of the wonderful Beira Mar. The city ordinance to earmark a violently conquered space to the Guanabara Bay was of no use as a mitigating crime of counter-aesthetics : an idea that seemed extravagant in a city that possesses a backdrop of forests and mountains, a huge natural park in comparison to the panoramas of the man-made gardens that are deplorably modest. A city friend, more exalted by anger in the face of a sacrilegious attempt, reduced his indignation to a rigorous maxim, exclaiming: Na bahia não se toca! (One doesn’t mess with the Bay!)

What weighs on a friend of the Guanabara Bay, the truth is that Rio de Janeiro wouldn’t exist if the prohibition of messing with it were a law since the times of Mem de Sá. One can say that the entire lower part of Brazil’s capital is an achievement of our ancestors over mangroves, grottos, swamps, lakes and marshes that covered, 400 years ago, the city where automobiles pass by today.

When the third governor of Brazil, anchoring in the bay in January of 1567, disembarked in the fortified village that the heroic Estácio, his nephew, built between the cliffs of Sugarloaf and the São João hill, he soon thought the hostile cradle and future capital of Brazil should be transported in the laps of the warriors to the hill, initially denominated as São Sebastião, which would be its throne, capital and reliquary for thee and a half centuries.

On the hill overlooking the Coligny fort, the bronze cannons, transported from the ships to the barbarian seafront, stucco fort, dominated the valleys and commanded the bay.

After his valiant nephew was buried, Mem de Sá started the construction of the city at the Piasaba port, near the Santiago stronghold, where the Misericordia church is today. Via the hill’s slope, the first steep and venerable street of the city of S. Sebastião began.

From the top, the navy, the soldiers and the indians, allies of Ararygboia, dug the fort’s canals, from parochial [], from the residence of the Government and the Parliament, walling the citadel with strong [pelissadas?].

Soon, however, the population felt that the mountain was small for them. Protected by the fort, they started going down the mountain side. Then man’s fight with the water started. At the foot of the hill, an extensive water-filled valley stretched out, which had to be dried out and landfilled. The colonizers and populators had to conquer, palm tree to palm tree, the lands of Rio de Janeiro. There still weren’t any aesthetic champions to defend Guanabara from the sacrilege of the landfills. From a salt water marsh, the inhabitants of S. Sebastião made a city. It was on the first conquered lands near the water that the streets and the maze of alleyways of Misericórdia aligned themselves – currently being demolished – and later Direita do Paço and do Cotovello streets. These formidable ancestors, who didn’t have dredgers nor automotive vehicles to excavate, managed to build, at the spot where they found mud and grottos, the Carmo convent and the S. José church.

They made a nation so that we today could create nationalism.

Among the hills of S. Sebastião (Castello), Carmo (Santo Antonio), Manoel de Brito (S. Bento), Paulo Caieiro (Formiga), Santa Thereza (do Pinto), da Lagoinha (Paula Mattos), Pedro Dias (do Senado) and Desterro (Santa Thereza), a plain of marsh and mangroves stretched out. In the spot where today are the Largo da Carioca and adjacent streets, was the Santo Antonio lagoon. Arcos street was opened on the Pedro Dias swamp. The current street Riachuelo was a trail that gave way from the Desterro to the Sentinella lagoon. Next to the Ajuda convent was the marshy Boqueirão lagoon, that was landfilled by order of the viceroy D. Luiz de Vasconcellos with land from the knoll of the Mangueiras ranch (today’s Largo da Lapa) for construction of the Passeio Público. Viólas street (today Theophilo Ottoni) and all the surrounding opening of streets were marshes fed by the tide. When, in 1600, Antonio Martins Palma and his wife D. Leonor Gonçalves started to build the first church at Candelaria, in fulfilment of vows, the bay waters reached the spot where Primeiro de Março street now is. All the large valleys from Gávea to Engenho Novo were marshes and sandbanks. In the current Largo do Machado was the Carioca lagoon.

Compared with these tenacious builders, who needed to landfill soaked plains so that in them they could improvise a city, government projects seem like simple engineering toys. Mr. Carlos Sampaio intending to landfill the Glória inlet, could invoke the cyclopic public works of those that came before as justification of his desires. Since the foundation of the city man has fought with Guanabara, ripping out land to build churches and houses. And the fight will continue, without truces.

Our grandchildren will see, possibly, avenue Rio Branco extended til Villegaignon. The Passos, the Frontins and the Carlos Sampaios of the future will continue being like our ancestors, destroyers of hills, drainers of lagoons, landfillers of mangroves, conquerors of Guanabara.

To this conclusion one arrives examining any city plan and considering that, based on its geographic situation, by the ampleness of its port and by its demographic conditions, already impossible to correct, Rio de Janeiro will represent in Brazil the corresponding function of New York to the United States. The removal of the capital to the Goias plateau will be imperceptably influential in the solution to the extremely enormous problem that future generations will be faced with. Rio de Janeiro will be, in less than a century, a city with 3 million inhabitants and to accommodate this population and create the conditions in which it can exercise its activities, in accordance with the categorical imperatives of space and time, it’ll be necessary to impose a sacrifice of much of its natural beauty which we defend today, to landfill considerable areas of the liquid plains of Guanabara, to enlarge the scanty valley, still pregnant with knolls and hills.

There would still be time for the city government to entrust the study of the problem of Rio’s transformations to a commission made up of more competent figures of national engineering, adding to this technical commission some architects and artists, and asking them to prepare a project together which would represent an agreement of authorized opinions. Otherwise the future will be sacrificed to mere momentaneous desires and the discussion around each partial project will be renewed.

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Carioca do anno 2000

A tale about how Cariocas will live in the year 2000 (RdS, Jan 15, 1927). Written by Saul de Navarro, pen name of Capixaba writer Álvaro Henrique Moreira de Souza.

Um conto sobre como os cariocas iam viver no ano 2000, escrito em 1927. Clique para aumentar.

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“Descendo de um aeromovel, que pousou, com elegancia de passaro, no terraço amplo, situado no 58º andar do Palace-Hotel da Tijuca, cuja floresta fôra convertida em parque nacional, Mme. Borboleta Simões dirigiu-se ao seu apartamento. O marido atual (já era o quinto do anno, pela extrema liberalidade do divorcio…) a esperava com a maior calma e paciencia, lendo a edição das 12 horas de O Jornal, emquanto ouvia, pelo relogio radio-phonico, um concerto, executado em Tokio, com programma de musicas classicas brasileiras: chôros e serestas de Villa-Lôbos.

Mme. Borboleta chegou lepida e risonha, tendo ainda a caricia do mar pelo banho que tomára, momentos antes, no grande balneario de Guaratiba, a praia favorita da elegancia carioca do seculo XXI. Depois de dar um beijo rapido no esposo amavel e displicente, entrou nos seus aposentos particulares, expedindo ordens ao pessoal encarregado de sua toilette. E logo após, deitada num largo divan de borracha, cujo ar comprimido fôra renovado pela simples apertura de um botão electrico, tirou a cabelleira postiça — uma bella peruca azul de pennugem de passaros do Amazonas — deixando a sua deliciosa calva á mostra…

Estava algo fatigada, porque tivera grande trabalho em salvar num movimento de piedade feminina, o seu 1º marido, que por um triz não morrera afogado quando se banhava naquella manhã esplendida de verão: tomou uma injecção de somnol e segundos depois estava adormecida serenamente. Era durante o seu repouso diario de duas horas (a sua noite de descanso) que se fazia a sua complicada toilette. O artista japonez Fu-Lito fazia-lhe, a nankim, o desenho subtil das sobrancelhas e a pintura de seu rosto, num requinte de maquillage. A manicura ia, ao mesmo tempo, tratando-lhe as unhas, emquanto a pedicura se entregava ao amanho dos pés pequenos e alvos.

Feito esse trabalho delicado e minudente, uma esponja, embebida em finas essencias, fazia a hygiene do corpo, que, estando enxuto, recebia então a veste da ultima moda; um decorador paulista estylizava nos seios, espaduas etc. motivos floraes, como si estivesse a traça paisagens na Lua…

O marido, o engenheiro Simões, billionario pela concessãõ das minas petroliferas de Alagoas, gastava mil cruzeiros nesse capricho diario, durante o qual, para matar o tempo. lia autores novecentistas — epigrammas de Ronald e poemas bravios de Catullo — quando não se deixava ficar nos braços de Morpheu — uma injecção de somnol, formula do saudoso e notavel Prof. Austregésilo, do seculo passado.

Mme. Borboleta levantou-se ás 14 horas, para ter tempo de ir á Camara, a fim de cumprir o seu dever civico de representante do Acre, principalmente porque era relatora do orçamento da Aviação. Olhou-se no espelho oblongo e ficou satisfeita com a sua toilette do dia: a pintura bizarra de seu vestido symbolico suppria, admiravelmente, a ausencia capillar em seu corpo hellenico á guisa de uma estatua dynamizada e maravilhosa.

Chegou ao parlamento justamente na hora da votação do seu orçamento, tendo ainda tempo de defender o augmento de alguns milhões de cruzeiros para novas linhas de communicação aérea e responder, com vantagem e logica, aos discursos da esquerda, composta de mulheres velhas e solteironas, ainda conservadoras e devotas do regimen republicano abolido, quando o Brasil se compunha apenas de 20 Estados federados e o Rio de Janeiro não era ainda a séde da grande feminocracia latina como capital da Republica Sul Americana e a maior potencia do mundo.

Os orçamentos foram votados numa sessão estafante de 30 minutos, pela obstrucção de alguns discursos das esquerdistas, que combatiam o deficit — mal chronico das finanças nacionaes — e profligavam as caudas orçamentarias.

Depois do sacrificio feito á Patria, por força de seu mandato, foi almoçar, com a leader da maioria Mme. Veiga, no restaurante de luxo mais proximo: o “Retiro”, em Petropolis, accessivel pelo vôo de alguns minutos, em omnibus aéreo, embora não o fosse a qualquer bolsa, pelo preço elevado…

O cardapio agradou ao appetite das duas damas influentes: ovos de andorinha, sumo de fructas e sorvetes do Polo Norte, servido por esquimaus trajados a rigor.

Depois do leve repasto, accenderam os cigarrilhos de fumo aromatico e tomaram algumas gotas de café, bebida de luxo vendida em dóses minimas, por effeito da valorisação iniciada um seculo antes…

Fazia-se ouvir um jazz de arapongas, grillos e cigarras…

— Vaes hoje ao chá dansante em Buenos Aires? — perguntou Mme. Veiga á sua graciosa companheira.

— Não sei ainda. Tenho um compromisso…politico para as vinte e duas horas em S. Paulo.

— Mas a festa promette ser optima. Não leste o programma publicado na 12.a edição do Radio-Jornal?

— Não.

— É um chá que vae ficar celebre: imagina tu que a presidenta da Republica da Europa, Mrs. Kingston, foi especialmente convidada e se comprometteu a comparecer, mandando apresentar o seu hiate aéreo.

— É possivel que vá, então. Adiarei o meu encontro politico para amanhã… — disse Mme. Borboleta, num sorriso de malicia.

Minutos após estavam de volta, regressando ao Rio numa baratinha alada de Mme. Veiga, desembarcando na torre da praça circular Washington Luis e tomando a avenida Santos Dumont, que ligava Guaratiba ao Pharoux, transformado num parque de diversões. Beijaram-se despedindo-se. A tarde estava deslumbrante e amena, pois a canicula de Dezembro era combatida pela viração que soprava da Guanabara e pelos colossaes ventiladores electricos collocados na via publica.”

Predictions – Rio in 100 years

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 5.50.46 PM“In the year two-thousand. — Prophetic photograph of what Rio will be like at its 5th centennial”

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The text images that follow, from the May 20th (1900) edition of Revista da Semana, go on to describe how Rio will be 100 years from then but, being that it’s antiquated Portuguese, I preferred to just post the text as is. What I will also leave you with are some choice excerpts. I’ll put a X next to the incorrect predictions, (a √ next to the correct ones,) and nothing if I don’t know how to answer. 

Χ – Rio’s avenues will be way better than the Champs-Élysées in Paris (not quite)
Χ – Rua do Ouvidor will be nothing but a memory (still there, luckily)
Χ – Rio will have 1.5 million residents (currently 6.5 million)
Χ – Women won’t say ugly things like “vi elle”, “qui home”, “me deixe”, “tá bom”
Χ – Botafogo, with its lovely bay, will attract tourists from the world over (it fell short)
Χ – By 1940, yellow fever will be gone (…nope)
– Morally, Brazilians will have the same defects, vices and passions as in 1900
Χ – In commerce and industry, there’ll be big thieves who cheat the public
– In the press, there’ll be illiterate writers and journalists for sale
– The city still won’t have money to pay its employees
Χ – The only ugly thing left in the city will be the Mangue canal (still there)

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 6.29.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 8.03.34 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-20 at 6.29.27 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-20 at 6.29.37 PM