Rio aims for its own High Line

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Mayor Marcelo Crivella wants a ‘High Line’ over Rio’s Central Station

Even while under criticism about the lack of urban care and money for healthcare, city council announced its intention to make a High Line in Rio, like the one in New York. Yesterday, Mayor Marcelo Crivella signed an agreement with Russia’s Olympic City Group that is prepared to develop, without cost to the city, a Public-Private Partnership to build a “suspended city” on the railway line between Central do Brasil and the Leopoldina station. The work is estimated at R$8 billion (US$2.49 billion), which should be raised within the private sector.

In New York, the High Line was built nine feet high, but over a deactivated railroad line. It started as a local initiative to revitalize the space and ended up as a large success among locals and tourists from all over the world. In the reform, about R$800 million (US$249 million) was spent, ten times less than what’s predicted for Rio’s project. But the Rio High Line has bigger ambitions and, in addition to gardens, plans to include shops and commercial buildings that would occupy an area of ​​about 1 million square meters. It would be 15 meters high on the SuperVia stations. The grandiose venture would pass close to communities, such as Morro da Providência, but the city did not address safety issues.

Olympic City Group says it will study a plan to occupy the area and analyze, for example, what changes would be needed in urban planning legislation. The investments would be made possible by a PPP similar to the one for the Porto Maravilha project, with the issuance of Additional Building Potential Certificates (Cepacs). The analysis is expected to be ready in six months.

The Cepacs formula is facing problems at the port due to the financial crisis, and the certificates ran aground. For six months, the city’s administration took over almost all the infrastructure-related maintenance services that were handled by concessionaire Porto Novo. And then, in a new operation, it began to inject more public money into the project, which returned into the hands of the concessionaire.

The High Line should be started in 2019. Rio’s city hall will still have to sign agreements with the federal and state governments, owners of part of the areas where the suspended gardens would be. – Source (PT)


Not mentioned in the article is the High Line is part of a larger project called Rio Sem Muros, to transform the railway line surrounding eight neighborhoods: Santa Cruz, Campo Grande, Bangu, Padre Miguel, Madureira, Engenho de Dentro and Meier. Read more here (PT)

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Is tourism the solution for Rio?

Rio, a solution with open arms
by Vinicius Lummertz, President of Embratur

A new window of opportunity has been opening up for tourism in Rio de Janeiro. Cities that were consolidating as major tourist destinations in the world are reaching their limit, analysts say. In a striking article (PT) in the magazine Visão, Portuguese journalist Sara Rodrigues has no doubts: “Tourismphobia is spreading throughout Europe”. Cities like Barcelona (32 million last year, with 8 million foreigners, for a fixed population of 1.5 million) or Venice (22 million in 2016, for a population of 350,000) are studying ways to contain the hordes of visitors.

So, now it is our turn. Yes, it’s time to say that if they don’t want tourists, then may they come to Rio, may they come to Brazil.

The city, like Christ the Redeemer that illuminates it, is with open arms, as always. New tourist facilities installed during the cycle of major events (2007-2017) are there, as well as investments in mobility. In terms of private initiatives, more than twice as many beds are being offered as were available less than ten years ago.

For the first time in the last three years, the number of new international connections to Brazil (Rio included) has grown again. We now have the ease of electronic visa entry for Australians and, by the end of January, for Americans, Canadians, and Japanese. The exchange rate is still favorable for tourists coming to Brazil.

In September a nice calendar of events was announced, predicting big events every month and other dozens of happenings scattered throughout the year. Today’s major tourist destinations were as violent as Rio de Janeiro 30 years ago. Not taking into account the recent terrorist attacks that scare residents and tourists from emblematic cities around the globe. Thirty years ago, Miami, for example, as well as being a city surrounded by crime, was bankrupt. The city council put several measures in place, among them the creation of a calendar of events.

Tourism is starting to be treated as the protagonist for a possible exit to the serious economic and social problems of the city that is the postcard of Brazil. This assertion that tourism belongs on the main agenda of the economy has also become political, and therefore should take on new heights of awareness in society.

Why Rio? The city continues being the largest connection in Brazil with the rest of the universe and speaks for the world to the rest of the country.

When it doesn’t speak for politics, it speaks for aesthetics, music, arts or habits. Its greatest good is its lightness and its renewal. Its evil perhaps is too adaptive. Not being able to say “enough already!”. Both the good and bad appear first and last in Rio.

Here we have the magic mirror of the nation. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to talk about Rio’s problems, about Rio’s violence, without contextualizing Brazil. We are coming out of a difficult time, nationally, with increasingly strong signs of economic recovery. Brazilian tourism and Rio tourism must be prioritized at this time, instead of looking at the city like a shattered glass.

Government actions to tackle organized crime are fundamental. But said actions alone don’t solve the problem. Of course taking assault rifles off the streets will be an important step. However, it’s necessary that young people no longer see the appeal of the criminal world. The greatest concrete opportunities for such youth are in tourism and in an attractive environment linked to a strong tourist town.

The victory of Rio will have a greater result than simply saving the city. It will have the role of guiding Brazil along new and happy paths that have the words ‘tourism’ and ‘creativity’ as a central point. – Source (PT)


This is placing the cart before the horse. Rio needs to take care of public security before it focuses on a tourism push. Tourism being down is a direct result of the lack of safety. This is to say nothing of the main reason for tourism-phobia in Europe. Over-tourism is a disease and can only be controled with laws in place, which are then being actively enforced. Tourism makes the economy move but it’s just a band-aid to larger economic problems.

Giant ferris wheel – A new Rio fixture

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A ferris wheel, 88 meters high, will be part of the Olympic Boulevard scenery. To be inaugurated by the first half of 2018, between AquaRio and the Aqwa building (see below), a ticket will cost from US$6-9 (R$20-30). Inspired by other world-famous ferris wheels, such as London Eye, the so-called Estrela do Rio will be the largest in Brazil.

The project, estimated at $6.1 million, will be funded by a company to be created by Esfeco Administração, holding company of Trem do Corcovado, AquaRio and Complexo Paineiras. The wheel will have 48 cabins with air conditioning and capacity for 300 people. Each round will last 30 minutes and will offer the visitor a 330-degree view of the city.

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(One can see the relation between Aqwa and AquaRio, as well as Cidade do Samba on the left, and Pedra do Sal on the right)

“The wheel will be installed in a large square where a gas station was previously located, on an area of ​​2000 m², stretching out the Boulevard walkway. In Guanabara Bay, with the Rio-Niteroi Bridge, it will provide a view of Praça Mauá and the Museum of Tomorrow, and the entire downtown,” said Sávio Neves, director of Esfeco. He initially discussed the idea with the former mayor Eduardo Paes, in 2009.

The Estrela do Rio will run every day of the week from 11h to 22h. The structure will be accessed by VLT stations Cidade do Samba and AquaRio. The expectation is to increase the flow of people in the region, especially to AquaRio, which has already received 1.4 million visitors.

Sávio Neves is going to China in the coming days to choose a supplier. After closing the deal, the product will be transported by ship to Rio. Staff will be trained by Chinese manufacturers. According to Neves, the largest Ferris wheel in Brazil is in the Hopi Hari amusement park, in São Paulo, at 44 meters, half the height of Rio’s. The largest ferris wheel in the world is the High Roller, in Las Vegas, at 167 meters. The Estrela do Rio is also more than double the size of the 2017 Rock in Rio ferris wheel, which was 35 meters, and higher than the one set up at Copacabana Fort in 2008 and 2009, at 36 meters.

A concessionária Porto Novo retomará hoje a operação na Zona Portuária, interrompida em julho por falta de pagamento. Ela fará manutenção, conserto de calçadas, arborização, drenagem, iluminação e controle de tráfego.

The Porto Novo concessionaire has resumed operations in the port area, previously stopped in July due to lack of payment. It will do maintenance, and repair of sidewalks, trees, drainage, illumination and traffic control. – Source (PT)

The future Museum of Tomorrow

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Visited by 1.4 million people in the country in 2016, the Museum of Tomorrow, with investments abroad, wants to bring its collection and content to an audience of over 100 million per year. Open for less than two years, the Museum of Tomorrow has just started its international expansion. With the brand MoTi (Museum of Tomorrow International), based in Rio, it arrived earlier this month in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, as part of a commitment made with three local partners. The investment abroad is part of a strategy that aims to bring collections and museum content to an audience estimated at over 100 million people each year, via TV, Internet and traveling exhibitions.

The institution’s global ambitions are encouraged by last year’s results, when the Museum of Tomorrow was the most visited in all of Brazil. The audience (1.4 million persons) was almost three times what administrators expected, which was 500,000. The unconventional collection, based on interactive content which is easily replicable in other areas, is a point in favor of the internationalization strategy.

Even before settling in Holland, the institution’s area of influence already far surpassed the building’s futuristicly-lined walls erected next to Praça Maua, the design of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. “Today, via Facebook, Twitter and the official site, we reache 7 million people,” said Ricardo Piquet, CEO of the Museum of Tomorrow and Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Gestão (IDG), a social organization that manages the institution. In the Netherlands, the Museum of Tomorrow occupies a space within the THNK School of Creative Leadership, a laboratory for the discussion of ideas and a startup accelerator aimed to generate social impact. The intention behind internationalization is just developing a series of initiatives on a global scale that encompass both traveling exhibitions, online exhibitions and audiovisual products. “We want to produce films and series for TV and Netflix,” said Piquet. Within the strategy outlined by management, the transmission of audiovisual content via cable and broadcast television have potential – in the long run – to reach more than 20 million people per year.

At the moment, the Museum of Tomorrow is expanding its operations with temporary itinerant exhibitions. It also offers a consulting service for the implementation of methodologies and content tools, within a logic which will, in the future, include marketing “packages” including content, design and concept for exhibitions. The model reduces costs traditionally associated with artistic exhibitions, such as the transportation and insurance for art work. The next step is the global dissemination of such content via the Internet, reaching more than 100 million people in a period of over four years, according to the institution’s projections.

The Netherlands branch, according to Piquet, is an almost entirely self-sustaining investment from a financial point of view, the same line adopted at its Rio de Janeiro headquarters. Of the US$14.6 million budget for the Museum this year, $6.1 million would have come from the City of Rio de Janeiro, which informed the institution’s administrators of a reduction of their share to $3.6 million.

The cut was drastic in comparison with 2016, when Rio’s City Hall contributed $8.5 million. Even so, the museum’s activities were not affected, since most of the budget is made from private resources. “Our desire is to be entirely private,” says the CEO, without establishing a deadline. In the Netherlands, the first years of operation are guaranteed by resources allocated by a private investor.

In addition to the agreement signed with the THNK School of Creative Leadership, for an initial duration of one year, there are signed partnerships and technical cooperation agreements with 17 institutions, including the Google Cultural Institute and Columbia University. The choice of Amsterdam as first city to house a MoTi unit took into account technological and logistical factors, but also the ability of European capital to attract new businesses and talent (the city ranks third in the Global Power City Index ranking) and it has the best cost/benefit in comparison with London or Paris.

For next year, one of the major international bets for the Museum of Tomorrow is the Global Climate Room, an exhibition that will encourage the visitor to reflect on the effects of climate change and the consequences of human activity on the planet. It’s not by chance that the first cities planned to receive the exhibitions are located on the coast. “The idea of sustainability is tied to our project,” says Piquet. – Source (PT)

Clive James Postcard from Rio – 1989

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I came across this documentary about Rio, from 1989, called Clive James Postcard from Rio, showing a snapshot of the city almost 30 years ago. You can find it below in English and with a voice-over in Continental Portuguese. If, for whatever reason, it gets taken down, just put the name of the documentary into Youtube as there are several uploads of the same video.

It’s perhaps important to note the out-of-touch aspect of the host, and how almost every line he says is a non-stop string of “witty” remarks. It’s rather pessimistic for a travel documentary, and the host’s ignorance shines bright in several instances. Nonethelss, it’s still interesting to get a feel for the city in the 80s.


“Strolling along the promenade at Copacabana one could easily believe that the citizens of Rio are the luckiest in the world. But sunshine, music and the beach are the only blessings Rio hands out with fairness.

The chance to eat well and die healthy is the privilege of the few and the envy of the many. The poor living on their wits in the favelas, can only trust the voodoo gods to see them through.

And if that means sacrificing the odd chicken, so be it. Clive James is made welcome by rich and poor alike. While the cariocas live in their own worlds, making contact only when a servant is paid or a millionaire is mugged, the outsider can meet them all.”

Esqueleto Tourist Hotel

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In 1953, work began on the construction of Gavea Tourist Hotel. The idea, designed by architect Décio da Silva Pacheco, was to make a luxury establishment targeting high-earning clientele. The location encompasses about 30,000 square meters, which was to include a restaurant, a private forest and even an aerial tram. Although unfinished, the space was opened for some events: in 1965, there was a large New Year’s Eve celebration with 1,000 guests, and a night club called Sky Terrace was open for a while on the property grounds. From the 60s onward, the setting has been the backdrop for films, model shoots as well as highly frequented by curious travelers over the last decade, including for sports.

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However, in March 1972, the construction of the Hotel was interrupted by developer California Investments, which would take over the project. Five years later, the company filed for bankruptcy and work stopped altogether (and gone with it, the money from 11,000 people who bought shares in the company in exchange for free stays at the hotel). In 2011 it was sold to a group of investors for R$29 million and the building was closed in preparation for technical inspections and future construction, but there were problems with permits and the project didn’t go ahead.

As mentioned, that doesn’t stop people from going there, though. In part, thanks to Globo’s article (PT) in 2016 about the location becoming a tourist spot, there have been many reports (even up to August 2017) of guards posted there and the location being effectively closed. – Sources 1 (PT), 2 (PT) and 3 (PT)

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Rio roadworks failed to help the poor

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World Cup and Olympic roadworks did little to improve Rio’s transport, says IPEA

A new study (PDF, in English) shows that increased social inequality regarding access to quality public transportation, and expensive fares, contribute to low demand for services.

The transportation infrastructure changes, made in Rio to hold the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, barely impacted the life of the city’s population. This is the conclusion (PT) of a study from the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA).

According to the survey, the economic crisis, the high cost of travel and the lack of fare integration help explain the low demand in relation to the means of transport built for these events.

“The investments, due to the World Cup and the Olympics, that could have reversed the situation, or at least ameliorated the situation, actually ended up reinforcing this inequality since the investments were just made in middle-class areas, occupied mostly by middle-class and upper class people,” noted Rafael Pereira, a Planning and Research technician for IPEA.

According to research, the Transolímpica, a roadway connecting Deodoro to Barra da Tijuca, in the Zona Oeste, for example, had no significant effect on people’s access to schools or employment opportunities, as this express corridor is far from the majority of these locations.

Meanwhile, residents complain of overcrowding in public transport and the high price of fares, in addition to travel delays.

“Sometimes I take four hours [to get to and from work], claimed day laborer Luzia Lourenço da Silva. “The metro is mostly very expensive and very full,” said maid Janaína dos Santos.

The IPEA survey showed that in 2014, before the World Cup, the poorest 10% in Rio could reach only 15% of jobs offered in the city in 1 hour. After three years and more than R$13 billion in investments, the same portion of the population can reach 16% of jobs in the same period of 1 hour. An increase of only one percentage point.

Meanwhile, for the richest 10% in Rio, it was more practical to get to work, which only increases the social gaps, according to IPEA. – Source (PT)


G1 comments are usually best given wide berth, but I think we can look at three, while keeping in mind another recent event (PT) – that BRT will close 8 stations in Zona Oeste:

1. “These idiots never stepped foot in the Rio subway to know how it’s full at any time or day of the week. The photo [video still] from the article does not match reality. Try going to the Alvorada Terminal at 17:00 or in the morning to see that the BRT works exactly the opposite to what the “study” presented. It is a work of fiction, IPEA should be ashamed.”

2. “The map of the BRT stations contradicts this “study”. Penha, Vila Kosmos, Olaria, Vicente de Carvalho, Vaz Lobo, Madureira, Campinho, Praça Seca, Tanque, Taquara, Curicica … only rich people live in these neighborhoods [sarcasm]. This is not meant to be taken seriously. The time has passed for the ideological dismemberment of IPEA, which is a federal institution.”

3. “I read it carefully. It’s ideologically determined. Where do the rich and poor live in Rio de Janeiro? In the same place. The only thing missing here is to say that the subway station at the foot of Rocinha (the largest slum in Latin America) was made to benefit the wealthy in São Conrado.”

Rio bookstores, reinvented

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Bookstores reinvent themselves to face the crisis and the internet

From the outside, Livraria Camerino, in the Port Zone, looks like a shop for photocopies, novelties and stationery. But whoever crosses through one of the three doors of the old building, in front of the Valongo Suspended Garden, will discover a world of shelves and shelves filled with used publications, among them, textbooks, novels, guides, almanacs and rare magazines. There are 15 thousand titles for sale in the used bookstore, open since 1971, and that has belonged, for several generations, to the family of 55 year old bookseller Paulo Félix. Meanwhile, the bookstore Lumen Chisti specializes in new editions with religious content, but those who are looking for the small shop in the courtyard of the São Bento Monastery, also in the Port area, can find chocolates and sweets produced in the South of the country, as well as images and medals.

The two addresses are in the “Guia de Livrarias da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro” (Bookstore Guide of the City of Rio de Janeiro), released by the State Association of Bookstores (AEL-RJ), last month. Edited after two years of research, the material, however, is already in the hands of readers in need of correction: of the 204 listed establishments, eight have already closed their doors. Three years ago, they were 252.

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According to the president of the association, Antônio Carlos de Carvalho, this was the first guide of its kind produced by the institution and, as the objective was to make a complete map, the survey included all types of establishments from the branch. There are small bookstores on the street, used bookstores, those with bistros, religious ones, those that diversify with stationery, and the mega bookstores, who also sell electronic items. Diversification may be the reason these places weather the era of fast internet and e-books.

The Oldest is from 1897

Of the 204 presented in the Carioca guide, the one on Spiritist Federation on Avenida Passos, 28, founded in 1897, is the only one in operation since the 19th century. Beyond that, seven were opened in 2016. In the opening text, the guide explains that this changing shop profile is actually a return to origins, “when books were just one of the items offered”:

“Unfortunately, some that are in the guide, such as Casa Cruz and a Saraiva branch downtown, have closed. But the guide shows that there are many still open. The reality is that the vast majority do not just sell books. They sell games, CDs, magazines and even coffee. Many became almost bazaars. But I think it’s still possible to live off of selling books in the city. So much so that our family has been in this business for more than 40 years, and my bookstore sells only books”, defends Antônio Carlos, owner of Galileo (Rua Major Ávila 116, Tijuca).

Of the bookstores in Rio, 25% carry general titles, from various areas of knowledge. The others are segmented. There are 33 religious bookstores (15 being Evangelical) and 27 used bookstores, according to the guide. Those who sell didactic and paradidical books make up 28. The Livraria Camerino (Rua Camerino 52, Centro), for example, mainly carries books on exact sciences for undergraduates.

“Looking online for mainly engineering and mathematics books, for students from 38 colleges in Brazil. Half of my sales come from there”, says Paulo Félix, who, on days for guided visits to the Port Zone, usually receives tourists looking for books on the history of the region.

Solário (Rua Sete de Setembro 169) is one of the traditional ones that endure downtown. But, like most, it also adhered to selling online:

“In the months of January and February, the buyers are the self-taught group. Throughout the year, we sell other types of books, focused on fiction, esotericism, self-help and children. We are always struggling with internet sales, with sites that buy wholesale and give discounts. There is even a site for home appliances selling books online. But from my experience, anyone who likes to read will never give up a book. We have to continue”, says manager Alfredo Silva, at Solário for 15 years.

One flip through the guide shows that many owners have diversified their businesses to ensure survival. Antiqualhas Brasileiras (Rua da Carioca 10, Centro) exhibits cachaça, antiques and some book covers of literary works about Old Rio in the window. Letra Viva (Rua Luís de Camões 10) is another example. In its large hall, used book shelves share space with bistro tables. Owner Luiz Barreto believes that the way to attract readers is the environment:

“We are a used bookstore, but not that old kind, dark, dusty, unkempt. The customer comes and feels like staying longer. We also do online auctions of art books. The important thing is to diversify the business.”

Zona Norte has More Spaces

The addresses indicated in the guide are divided by the regions of the city, with maps and a short summary of each establishment. The Zona Norte appears first, with 63 stores; followed by downtown, with 60; the Zona Sul, with 54, and the Zona Oeste, with 28. The publication, which will not be sold, has been distributed to publishers, bookstores and public agencies.

In 2014 and 2015, the city lost 18 establishments, according to the association. For Bernardo Gurbanov, director-president of the National Association of Bookstores, the crisis in the sector cannot be interpreted as the end of books:

“The challenge of maintaining a bookstore is too big. Books compete with many other entertainment alternatives, with new technologies. And it’s up to bookstores and publishers to look for alternatives, such as offering aggregate services. But I believe books will keep their place, because a world without stories is inconceivable.”

According to the Panel of Book Sales in Brazil, a survey that the National Union of Book Publishers publishes monthly in partnership with Nielsen Bookscan, despite the crisis, there was a 6.02% growth in the amount of books sold in the country. Studies show that the number of readers has increased again: in 2011, it represented 50% of the population and in 2015 it reached 56%. The reading index indicates that the Brazilian reads, on average, 4.96 books per year. The previous average was four.

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Livraria Letra Viva

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Livraria Letra Viva

(see top photo)

Livraria Camerino

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Livraria da Federação Espírita

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Livraria Solário

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Cultura

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Livraria Lumen Chisti

Source (PT)

Augusto Malta Revival

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The Rio remodeled by mayor Pereira Passos in the early twentieth century and today’s Rio meet in the montages of designer and photographer Marcello Cavalcanti. He’s the name behind the show Augusto Malta Revival, currently at the Marré de Si, in Catete. After analyzing images of Malta (1864-1957), who was a photographer for city hall for 33 years, Cavalcanti went after the perfect angle to remake them. On the computer, he fuses scenarios separated by a century, provoking compelling contrasts. – Source (PT)

Check out all 81 posts on the project Instagram here. And watch the behind the scenes on how he creates the effect below. Seems like magic.

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)