Rio Panorama – 1922

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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.

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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

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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).

Common knowledge – 1950s

The following is called Puxe Pelo Cérebro, a weekly quiz feature of Revista da Semana in the 1950s.

It’s interesting to see what perhaps passed for common knowledge among the reading public in 1950s Brazil. I would presume that most Cariocas today couldn’t answer most of these questions (much like I doubt if most Americans could correctly answer questions from the US Citizenship test).

As for me, due to my interest in the subject, I got some correct (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 19), and a few more I made correct guesses at (16, 17, 18, 20).

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The answer key

RDS - 1950s B

ImagineRio – There’s an app for that

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How does one witness the formation and the transformation of a city? Through documents and historic accounts, historians would say. Through maps and urban plans, architects would recommend. An interactive map developed by professors from Rice University, in Texas, brings together these two views in imagineRio, an online tool already available for consultation, but in a continuous process of expansion, which shows the history of the city from 1500 until today.

Upon scrolling through the timeline of imagineRio, we can see the first buildings and streets cropping up in the middle of what was previously a wide, green surface; we can follow the leveling of the hills, the drainage of the swamps, the formation of the landfills, the deforesting, the coffee plantation and even the replanting of trees that lead to the Tijuca Forest. The map also allows one to compare the city as it is with imaginative projects, which never left the planning stage, such as French architect Le Corbusier’s urban plan proposed in 1936.

“We saw that a digital tool would be more adequate to show the transformation of Rio over time, once the city had a need to overcome its geography and “project” its own environment to exist”, said Farès el-Dahdah, professor of architecture at Rice University and one of the coordinators of the project, in an email interview. “Rio’s physical and social landscape in constant change took on a spatial and temporal contextualization in a digital environment where we integrated vectored, spatial and cartographical data.”

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For now, imagineRio can only be accessed by normal web browsers, but the idea is to also transform it into an app so that tourists and residents can walk through Rio observing the city as it was and how it was planned. According to Farés, the project could be useful “for historians, who could visualize locations of specific research, be them spatial or temporal, for architects and urbanists who could see proposed urbanistic projects in their respective contexts; for literary researchers who could map novels while they view specific neighborhoods; and for archeologists who can now contextualize complex stratigraphies, whether through time or in space.”

Aside from Farès, imagineRio was also created by historian Alida Metcalf, a professor at Rice University. The project started in 2009, when the International Olympic Committee announced that Rio de Janeiro would be the host of the 2016 Olympics. “We decided to create a project that could take advantage of our expertise and compose an urban and social history of a city like Rio de Janeiro”, says Farès. As a starting point, the duo started to teach a class over three years on the urban and social history of the city. They also connected with Niterói’s Secretary of Urbanism and Mobility and with Rio’s Coordination of Territorial Planning department — aside from inumerous other Brazilian researchers and government employees who helped to access cartographical, iconographic and geospatial material of the city.

“The most difficult part was learning to understand the ‘language’ of the databases”, says Farès. For this — to create and connect diverse maps and data —, they counted on help from Axis Maps, a company that produces interactive maps on demand. “You can imagine how complicated this was for two humanists, but it went well”, jokes Farès.

Since imagineRio still isn’t finalized nor intends to be finished, this year Farès plans to invite Brazilian researchers for a stay at Rice University in order to “work with us on specific historical questions, such as transport, sewage, hydric infrastructure, etc.”. “We are also going to invite researchers to work with us remotely and, at some point, try some type of collective content contribution”, adds Farès. – Source (PT)
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Interesting! Earlier this year, for a moment, I imagined what RioThen might be like as an app, and what came to my mind was the same idea – that the posts might be mapped so that anyone could access them and create their own historical tour of Rio. 

Carnival flirtations – 1840s

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I’m in the middle of reading “O Livro de Ouro do Carnaval Brasileiro” [1] by Felipe Ferreira which covers the way in which Brazilians celebrated Carnival throughout the country, though with a focus (thus far) on Rio de Janeiro. The current chapter, part of which I’ve translated a section of below, deals with an earlier style of Carnival called Entrudo. Scroll further down for the same section in Portuguese.


In truth, what one starts to understand from all of this is what we call “Entrudo Familiar” which, in the 19th century, was a private party whose most important actors were young people, mainly women. They had become, already at the start of the 19th century, the ones responsible for the management of the home and of all of its cerimonies, including the Entrudistic games. In this way, from the production of limões-de-cheiro (“smelly lemons”) to their use as battle weapons, the actions related to a good part of colonial Brazil’s revelry was relegated to the feminine sex. It was the young daughters of Brazilian families, for example, who most times would take the initiative of throwing the little lemons on some boy that interested them, taking advantage of this rare opportunity to exercise some control over their own destiny. Of course, those boys, mostly flattered with being chosen, took advantage of the atmosphere of subtle permissiveness to risk touching, via the throwing of lemons, some forbidden part of the young women’s bodies, like the shoulders or, in surpreme audacity, the lap.

Machado de Assis, in his tale “Um dia de Entrudo“, taking place in 1848, describes the strong connections of the drenchings with romantic relations among the young members of Brazilian families. The mother of one character declares to her cousin Angelica: “I was about to go inside, when guess what I found in the corner of the dining room? I found your son Benjamin breaking lemons on my daughter’s shoulders! What insolence! I didn’t know what to do…” Another character, upon arriving at Angelica’s house, is immediately played tricks on by the sons of the host, which ends up incentivizing his romance with one of the boy’s sisters, in other words, aside from serving as a factor in social togetherness, allowing contact and good business between members of the elite, the apparently innocent game of the Entrudo Familiar also facilitated the meeting of young people from “good families” and incentivized their coming together.


Na verdade, o que se depreende disso tudo é o que chamamos de “Entrudo Familiar” era, no século XIX, uma festa privada cujos atores mais importantes seriam os jovens e, principalmente, as mulheres. Estas tinham se tornado, já no início do século XIX, as responsáveis pela gerência do lar e de todas as suas cerimônias, inclusive das brincadeiras entrudísticas. Desse modo, desde a produção dos limões-de-cheiro até sua utilização como arma da batalha, cabia ao sexo feminino o comando da ação relacionada a boa parte da folia do Brasil colonial. Eram as jovens filhas das famílias brasileiras, por exemplo, que muitas vezes tomavam a iniciativa de lançar os limõezinhos sobre algum rapaz que lhes interessasse, aproveitando-se dessa rara oprotunidade de exercer algum controle sobre seu próprio destino. É claro que os rapazes, muitas vezes lisonjeados com a escolha, tiravam proveito da atmosfera de sutil licenciosidade para arriscar tocar, através do lançamento de um limãozinho-de-cheiro, alguma das partes proibidas do corpo das jovens, como os ombros ou, suprema audácia, o colo.

Machado de Assis, em seu conto “Um dia de Entrudo”, passado em 1848, descreve a forte vinculação das molhaças com as relações românticas entre os jovens das famílias brasileiras. A mãe de uma personagem declara à prima Angélica: “Ia eu agora lá dentro, quando encontrei na sala de jantar a um canto, adivinhem o quê? Encontrei seu filho Benjamin quebrando limões no ombro de minha filha! Que desaforo! Fiquei sem saber de mim..” Outro personagem, ao chegar à casa de Angélica, é imediatamente entrudado pelos filhos da anfitriã, o que acaba incentivando seu romance com a irmã dos rapazes, ou seja, além de servir como fator de agregação social, possibilitando contatos e bons negócios entre os membros das elites, a aparentemente inocente brincadeira do Entrudo Familiar também facilitava o encontro dos jovens das “boas famílias” e incentivava a aproximação entre eles.

Geography of Rio Samba

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Rummaging around the net, I saw yet another cool book to eventually add to my collection. The only problem is it’s a rare book apparently, and thus it ranges in price from $50 to $130 [1]. If you prefer, it’s also on Google Books [2].


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Table of Contents

“In ‘Geografia carioca do samba’, author Luiz Fernando Vianna traces the route, in the historic and geographic sense, covered by the genre until today. The author maps the trajectory of samba, starting from Praça Onze, where it was born and took its first steps, until it arrived at Barra da Tijuca, having gone through neighborhoods such as Estácio, Lapa, Botafogo, Madureira, Inhaúma, Tijuca, Vila Isabel and Mangueira, among others cited in the book.

The result of the book is a wonderful trip through the city that gave us Donga, Bide, Ismael Silva, Noel Rosa, Cartola, Paulo da Portela, Zé Kéti, Monarco, Nelson Sargento, Paulinho da Viola, Bete Carvalho, Zeca Pacodinho and so many others responsible for making our lives happier.

A revealing trip through samba, which retells stories, digs up characters and points out the main physical and social changes occurring in the neighborhoods through which the genre made history.” – Saraiva