Saturdays in Largo do Machado

I used to live, for a short while, in a small town in the Amazon. So small, in fact, the only thing there was to do on the weekend was to hang out in, or walk around, its only tiny town square. Come Friday or Saturday night and the women would get dressed up, with high heels and makeup just to walk around in circles (err…squares).

Looking through the archives of Careta magazine between 1915 and 1933 there was a surge in the popularity of taking a Saturday stroll through Rio’s Largo do Machado. It’s my belief, after looking into a few other old magazines, that Careta made it their ‘thing’ to go there almost every weekend and take photos of the women (men are almost always in the background, if included at all). After looking at probably over 100 such images, I picked out a few of the better ones, largely from the 1920s, for display here. Enjoy!


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 As you can guess from the dress length, one of the images below is from 1915

By the way, the name Largo do Machado happens to come from a 17th century man named André Nogueira Machado, owner of the surrounding land. However, in the early 19th century, a butcher with the last name of Machado went and set up his business there, and in the front of his butcher shop he placed a large ax (machado in Portuguese).


Largo do Catete


Rua Senador Vergueiro and Largo do Catete (currently Praça José de Alencar), Flamengo, in 1865. To the left, the Hotel dos Estrangeiros.

The biggest modification to the plaza was with the canalization of the Carioca river, during the Pereira Passos government, between 1903 and 1906, and the construction of the metro in the 1970s, which made most of the buildings disappear. The church (see below) is all that remains.

Photographer: Georges Leuzinger.
Collection: Instituto Moreira Salles.


Praça José de Alencar, Flamengo, 1906. View from the Hotel dos Estrangeiros.

In the back, the Rua Conde de Baependi. On the corner of the praça, left side, the first methodist temple in Brazil, inaugurated in 1882. In the center of the image, a statue of the writer José de Alencar. The praça was known as Largo do Catete. In 1897 its name changed (to José de Alencar) with the arrival of the statue of sculptor Rodolfo Bernadelli. On the right side, one can see the Nossa Senhora da Glória Church, at Largo do Machado, in the neighboring Catete.

Photographer: A. Ribeiro.
Collection: G. Ermakoff

Sources: O Rio de Janeiro Que Não Vivi & Rio Antigo

Hotel dos Estrangeiros

Built in 1849, located on the present-day Ruas Senador Vergueiro and Barão do Flamengo, it was likely inspired by the Pharoux and its success. Providing first-class services, it offered novelties as well, such as private telephones in guests’ quarters.

With its rise in popularity, it became the meeting place for politicians and was the stage of the assassination of Senator Pinheiro Machado in 1915. The politician was stabbed in the back by a man in the hotel’s lobby, with his last words being “Canalha! Apunhalaram-me!” The man who killed him would later say it was his only crime in life, that he acted alone, and did a service to the entire country because the senator was a bad man.

The hotel’s popularity, however, didn’t suffer from the event and continued til April 1950, at which point it went bankrupt and was subsequently demolished. The Edifício Simón Bolivar apartment complex would later take its place, though now it’s the Restaurante Planalto.





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Pics 1-6 are of Hotel dos Estrangeiros
1. 1875 / 2. 1904 / 3 & 4. 1915 / 5. Late 1910s / 6. Then vs. Now / 7. 1906-2005