General Osório Market – 1913


General Osório Square market – 8AM

It’s well known that Ipanema is home to a square with the name General Osório but back in 1913, there was another public square in downtown Rio which had this name first. Meaning there weren’t two squares with the same name at the same time. The Ipanema location was called Praça Marechal Floriano Peixoto back in 1913, only being renamed General Osório in 1922.

As it existed in the photos shown here, it served as an open-air vegetable and bird market.


The downtown General Osório went by different names at different times, starting with Largo da Forca (where public hangings took place) and Largo do Capim (where Angola grass was sold), before becoming General Osório, and later being destroyed to make room for the opening of Av. Presidente Vargas.

The church where sages dreamed of a modern Brazil


Neighbors from surrounding apartment buildings toss empty beer bottles through a gaping hole in the roof of the once-majestic church. Pigeons roam the cavernous nave, their excrement piling up on the floor. A watchman guards treasures from the thieves who prey on the city’s derelict buildings.

The neoclassical Positivist Church of Brazil, with its soaring columns and a cryptic sign above its entrance proclaiming, “The Living Are Forever and Increasingly Governed by the Dead,” was long a captivating sight on Benjamin Constant Street near the old city center.

These days, the crumbling, graffiti-tagged church, whose freethinking founders helped modern Brazil rise from the ashes of an empire, is just another emblem of how Rio de Janeiro neglects its past, allowing grandeur to fall into ruin.

“Congregants once gathered here to debate incendiary ideas originating in Paris, the holy city for the positivists,” said Christiane Souza, 48, the church’s heritage director. “Tragically, our institution now finds itself in a state of neglect, as if history is something Brazil should disdain.”

Read the rest at NYT

Rio Panorama – 1922


There’s a cool panorama in the December 9, 1922 edition of Revista da Semana, showing all the important aspects of Rio de Janeiro at the time. The viewpoint is the tower of the Meteorological Observatory (old Calabouço fort).

Each photo here can be enlarged with a click, including the two page spread as a whole, at the bottom. Additionally, I’ll add another panorama of sorts, this time of Rio’s mountain range from a February 23, 1924 edition of the magazine.




City Panorama – 1922

The circular panorama of Rio de Janeiro, which we’ll reproduce on these pages, is the most important photographic work of its kind up to now, registered in Brazil’s illustrated press and which the editor of photographs of Revista da Semana obtained from the upper platform of Calabouço’s large tower, spinning the camera around the highest building of the city. Our prints, systematically prepared, reproduce the entire panorama of Rio de Janeiro, with the following noted:

1. The old monastery of São Bento. 2. Cobras island, with the metallic naval bridge highlighted among the two numbers. 3. Partial aspect of the Mercado. 4. The Statistics pavilion of the Commemorative Exposition of Independence. 5. The graceful Hunting and Fishing pavilion, distinguished by the Dom João VI galleon in the small bay. 6. The Fiscal island, where one finds the Naval Museum. 7 – 8. The Brazilian battleships Minas Geraes and São Paulo. 9. The tip of Armação, in Niterói. 10. The northern extremity of the shot rock from the landfill at the tip of Calabouço, which projects itself over the sea coupled by the extremely vast area. 11. View of Niterói. 12. Boa Viagem island. 13 – 14. Pico and Santa Cruz forts. 15. Villegaignon island. 16. The shot rock from the landfill of Santa Luzia beach. 17. The extensive conquered area of the sea, with the land taken from Castelo hill. 18. The Exposition’s picturesque restaurant. 19. The Cervejaria Antartica pavillion. 20 – 21. The Lage and São João forts. 22 – 23. Sugarloaf and Urca hill, connected by the famous aerial path.

24. Glória’s beautiful knoll, distinguished by the grand building of the Glória Hotel on the oriental flank. 25. Part of the Exposition’s compound, where, from left to right, the Brahma, Hanseatica and General Electric breweries can be found. 26. Partial aspect of the Amusement Park. 27. The facade of the Amusement Park, a project and construction of professor Sr. Morales de los Rios. 28. Gávea hill. 29. Corcovado, in whose summit the Christ the Redeemer monument is being built. 30. General view of Santa Teresa. 31 – 32. Tijuca and Papagaio Peak. 33. The heavy dome of the Palácio das Festas. 34. The Santa Casa da Misericórdia. 35. The Monroe pavilion, where one can find the offices of the Commemorative Exposition. 36. The back part of the National Library. 37. Castelo hill’s western subdivision. 39. The Palácio dos Estados, seeing the back part of the tower of jewels. 40. The main door and the facade of the Mercado, adapted for the Exposition’s installations. 41. The only tower of the Cathedral and the two colonial towers of the Carmo Church. 42. The towers of the Candelaria church, where one finds the Meteorological Observatory and which served as an axis point for this wide panorama.

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Geological Panorama – 1924



From left to right: Ponte de Guaratiba, Pico da Cabeça de Boi, Ilhas Cagarras, Gávea, Morro dos Dois Irmãos, Pico de Papagaio, Tijuca, (Can’t read it), Corcovado, Morro dos Cabritos, (Can’t read it), Ponta de Copacabana, Avenida Atlântica, Copacabana Palace, Babilônia, Morro do Leme, Pão de Açúcar.

Obviously, there are a lot more than what is listed. For anyone interested in a great documentary series on the geography of Rio (season 1) and Brazil (season 2), look for Sobre Rochas (the latter season can be found on Daily Motion).

The Story of Samba’s Praça XI


Note: The following is almost entirely translated (by myself) from Wikipedia, partly due to Brazil’s National Library online archives being temporarily unavailable.


Praça Onze (Plaza Eleven) is a sub-region of downtown Rio, whose name was inherited from the old plaza that once existed there. The original Praça 11 de Junho (the date of the Battle of Riachuelo) existed for more than 150 years prior to its destruction in the 1940s. Initially called Largo do Rocio Pequeno (Little Rocio Square), it became in the first decades of the 19th century one of the most cosmopolitan places of the then Federal Capital, upon housing families of recently arrived immigrants. The most popular ethnicities around Praça Onze were blacks (mostly from Bahia), followed by Jews from several origins. Portuguese, Spanish and Italians were also numerous.

Preceding Events

The region where Praça 11 de Junho would later exist was uninhabited by the end of the 18th century, being that the land was inadequate for farming and building due to marshes. It was only after the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family in Rio and their installation at the São Cristóvão Palace that the first access roads towards that area were built. In 1810, by order of King Dom João VI, Cidade Nova was created, which went from Campo de Santana to São Cristóvão. With rectilinear streets and extensive lots, it looked very different from downtown, overflowing with houses and narrow lots. At the same moment, the king created a plaza where the Mangue de São Diogo started: Largo do Rocio Pequeno.

Why Pequeno? Largo do Rocio Grande was already taken. Today, it’s Praça Tiradentes

Despite being the only commercial plaza in Cidade Nova, Rocio Pequeno continued almost deserted. It was only in 1842, during the second reign that the location began to receive attention from the city authorities. A cobblestone fountain, in neoclassical style, designed by Grandjean de Montigny, was installed in the middle of the square, serving as water supply for the surrounding homes and establishments .

In 1854, with the construction and inauguration of the Fábrica de Gás (Gas Factory), the Viscount of Mauá saw the need for canalizing the mangrove, sanitizing the road towards the Guanabara Bay, as well as allowing for a waterway connecting the suburb to downtown. In 1858, Mauá inaugurated the Estrada de Ferro Dom Pedro II (Railway), which cut through Cidade Nova, connecting it to several suburbs and to the provincial inland area.

With the emergence of the Paraguayan War, a wave of nationalism took hold of the empire. With the Brazilian victory at the Riachuelo Battle, the Largo do Rocio Pequeno was rebaptized with the date of the confrontation. It was also at this time, with the decline of the slave system, that Praça 11 de Junho started to be a good destination for immigrants, due to the proximity with the port and the varied types of commerce.

African Culture


With Abolition, large masses of ex-slaves settled in the precarious “casas de cômodos” (single-room shacks) that abounded on streets adjecent to the Praça 11 de Junho. Soon, with space running out, these same blacks began to inhabit improvised huts on the sides of hills. One of these headlands near Praça 11 de Junho was baptized as Morro da Favela by soldiers returning from the Canudos War and resulted in contemporary international denomination of miserable urban clusters.

At the start of the 20th century, Praça 11 de Junho was the quintissential meeting point of Rio’s black residents. From batucadas brought by black Bahians, mixed with Rio’s lundu, samba was born. Scholars and contemporaries of those times are unanimous in pointing out the importance of the mythic “Casa da Tia Ciata” (119 Rua Visconde de Itaúna, pictured above before being demolished) for this cultural synthesis. Tia Ciata was a Bahian woman that moved to Rio and who undertook the profession of confectioner. Thus her house was famous in the plaza, and was transformed into a meeting place for musicians and residents. There, the rhythm of samba began to take shape.

Tia Ciata’s home was the main place where the community played music and african rhythms, from which historical sambas and talented composers came. In 1926, due to police persecution, some local composers founded a “samba school”, a euphemistic name for a recreational association that, in truth, was not educational in nature. The first was “Deixa Falar“, whose divisions, years later, would result in several other schools, such as Estácio de Sá, Mangueira and Portela. In 1933, mayor Pedro Ernesto organized the first offical samba school parade in Praça 11 de Junho, which Mangueira would win. The parades became an annual occurrence, with a huge public influx.

Jewish Neighborhood

Praça 11 de Junho also brang together the largest Jewish concentration in the city’s history. Jewish immigrants choose Praça 11 since the configuration of houses in the region, with space for stores and residences above them, was perfect for commerce. Hundreds of Jewish establishments, as well as clubs, political societies and sinagogues settled in the area, giving Praça 11 the appearance of a European village. [book]

The Shrinking of Praça 11


In the 1930s, the government of the Federal District planned modernization works in the region, which included the construction of a new public transportation artery to improve access to the North Zone from downtown (and plans were drawn up, but thankfully never acted upon, to further modernize the area). With it, Praça 11 was notably reduced. Through the project, the blocks between Senador Eusébio and Visconde de Itaúna streets would be demolished to make way for the new Presidente Vargas Avenue (see before & after above). In 1941, the demolitions began, which dislodged hundreds of families and destroyed 525 buildings, among them some historic ones, such as the São Pedro dos Clérgios and São Joaquim churches.

Below is an image from late 1945 of an almost unrecognizable Praça Onze at the bottom and a view of the Canal do Mangue.


Cultural References

Herivelton Martins & Grande Otelo – Praça 11

Chico Anysio & João Roberto Kelly – Rancho da Praça XI

Quatro Ases e Um Curinga – O Samba não morre (can’t find a link)

I also recommend reading through Daniella Thompson’s archives on Praça XI, focusing on music related to the location, which I sadly only discovered after completion of this post.

Present Day

Swallowed up by President Vargas Avenue, Praça 11 shrank in size, becoming a place for regular presentations for circus shows. In the 1970s, the Praça Onze metro station was inaugurated. Between 1983 and 1986, the State government of Leonel Brizola tried to transform the location into a legal spot for street vendors, but the project didn’t happen due to the distance in relation to downtown. The Zumbi dos Palmares monument currently there is located on a piece of land that was part of the old Praça 11. Nowadays, the plaza houses a space for popular music shows, called Terreirão do Samba. The Jewish presence remains near the plaza, in the traditional commercial region called SAARA.

Carioca slang – 1957

Going through an October 1957 edition of Careta, I found an article on the following slang of the era (some of which I’ve added photos to).


  • Coca-cola (cheap collective taxis)
  • Fominhas (mini buses)
  • Caraduras (cheap trolleys)
  • Taiobas (trolleys with different fares)
  • Calhambeque (old car)
  • Rabo de Peixe (Cadillac)
  • Tintureiro (police wagon for the imprisoned)
  • Rabeção (hearse)
  • Mãe carinhosa (ambulance)
  • Vaca leiteira (milk truck)
  • Andorinha (moving truck)
  • Filhos de Maria (blue & white buses)
  • Camões (an allusion to the Portuguese poet who was blind in one eye)


  • Gostosões (modern and smooth)

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  • Sinfonia inacabado (‘without a head’)


  • Papa-filas

15 - Papa-filas Grassi


  • Bola de Noiva (Edifício Mayapan on Av. Almirante Barroso, 91)


  • Balança mas não cai ( apartment complex on Av. Presidente Vargas, 2007)


  • Tem Nêgo Bêbo Aí (Edifício Marquês de Herval on Av. Rio Branco, 185)


  • Gaiola de Ouro (Câmara Municipal at Praça Floriano)


  • Marmiteiro (laborer)
  • Maria Condelária (government official)
  • Barnabé (humble servant)
  • Parasita (retired but still able to work)
  • Tubarão (successful business man)
  • Bôas Vidas (city councilor)
  • Pais da Pátria (members of parliament)
  • Chefão / Manda-Chuva (President)
  • Gafanhotas (military)
  • Panela de Pressão (night guard)
  • Cardial (special police)
  • Meganha (military police)
  • Cosme e Damião (MPs in pairs)
  • Olheiro (car attendent)
  • Papa-defunto (funeral agent)


  • Getulinho (‘tostão’)
  • Filipeta / Japonesa (1 cruzeiro)
  • Cachorro (5 cruzeiros, according to bet-takers)
  • Coelho (10 cruzeiros, for bet-takers)
  • Perú (20 cruzeiros…)
  • Galo (50 cruzeiros…)
  • Vaca (100 cruzeiros…)
  • Abobrinas (modern bills worth 1,000 cruzeiros)


  • Poeira (cheap movie)
  • Mata-ratos (cigarette)
  • Pasquim (newspaper w/o asking price)
  • Buxo (ugly woman)
  • Panamás (big scandals)
  • Mamata (easy job)
  • Pistolão (the ease of getting a Mamata)

Careta Oct 1957 Careta Oct 1957 p2