Rocinha growth since 1940

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.50.27 PM(click here to enlarge)

This is a map of Rocinha’s evolution in terms of territorial occupation, from the 1940s til 2005.

A note on the yellow section. “From 1950 to 1960 alone, the favela’s growth spiked, showing a populational increase of 228% (from 4,513 to 14,793 inhabitants), with a housing increase of 912% (from 307 to 3,017).” – Source: União Pró-Melhoramentos dos Moradores da Rocinha, 1983

Upon checking those percentages against the numbers, they don’t seem to add up exactly, but close enough. It’s also important to understand that any census on Rocinha’s population should be treated with suspicion due to the huge difference between official and unofficial populational estimates. The graphic above just deals in land occupation and thus it can perhaps be more easily verified.

Other sites confirm the residential explosion,

“Rocinha’s fastest growth occurred during the 1950s and 1960s; largely influenced by the destruction of several nearby favelas, the continuation of the rural to urban exodus, and the real-estate boom in the surrounding upper-class neighbourhoods.” – Source

PS – As a reference for Rocinha today, here’s a neighborhood map (source).


From Gavelandia to Rocinha


“Above you can see a September 1932 advert from the magazine Vida Doméstica about a project called Gavelandia, in São Conrado. The then-deserted neighborhood started to interest investors and the advert to occupy the area was directed towards them. The captions, using advertising-speak of the time, say the following:

Upper image of the ad: A dream that will soon be concrete reality. GAVELANDIA, symbolic standard of the creative and dynamic energy of Land Investors Trust. Gavelandia, seen from on high, is located on the closest superb elevation to the Atlantic coast, glamourously arising and covered in buildings in successive plateaus. The mountain and the sea combine their elements of beauty and health to fulfill the enchantment of the prettiest Atlantic neighborhood of the shapely capital of Brazil.”

Lower image of the ad: “The irrefutable photographic documentation and the magnificent view of Gavelandia as it is seen: the sea as background (…illegible…), the imposing lines of mountain rocks in the distance, the land at Gavelandia is ready for building.” – Source (PT)


historia8Interesting, of course, to note that the favela of Rocinha started in the 1930s, as well, with the allotment of land by the French company Cássio Guidon for the residences of sanitation inspectors (coincidentally, basic sanitation is still lacking in the lower area of Rocinha known as the “valão“). However, those that started to populate the area by the mid-30s were Western Europeans, escaping their war-torn continent, and poor people from Brazil’s Northeast. As the inhabitants set up small gardens on these allotments, they eventually became roças, or small farms (as can be seen in the photo above). The vegetables that initially came from them were sold at the Praça Santos Dumont open-air market (built in the late 20s, photo) in Gávea, and when buyers would ask where the vegetables came from, the answer invariably was, “da rocinha”.