Rua Santa Luzia


I was looking at a large number of Fon Fon magazine covers from the 1920s when I came across this one from November of 1921. I didn’t recognize the street, which is odd, but I did recognize the name at the bottom – Praia de Santa Luzia. Still, a beautiful tree-lined street near the beach? So I did what any armchair historian would, and pulled the thread, as it were. Here’s what unraveled.


It seems quite likely that street in question, Rua Santa Luzia, is the one on the left of the photo above, beside the Hospital da Misericórdia, which dates back to 1582. There was, of course, a time when there were no trees (1856) and a time when the trees were starting to grow (1895).

Regarding the trees themselves, a blog with an even more narrow topic than mine called Árvores Cariocas, says the following:

“Originally from India, the Figueira-religiosa (Ficus religiosa) was introduced in Brazil by the French landscape artist Glaziou, in the second half of the 19th century. The tree impresses with its size, which can reach 30m high, but also by the sculptures formed by its adventitious roots. In Buddhist culture it is considered a sacred tree, being that under its canopy, Buddha discovered the secrets of life.

Although exotic, the species acclimated well here, being found in several points in the city. A highlighted collection is located on Rua Santa Luzia, in downtown, in front of Santa Casa de Misericórdia. The seedlings were planted in November 1873, by the botanist Francisco Freire Alemão (possibly a German preist).”

Here’s a 1950’s photo of the street:


These days, you’ll find that the street still exists, located near Rio’s domestic airport, Santos Dumont. There are less trees now but you can still get a feel for what it was. And when you try to look to the edge of the city, like so many must have done hundreds of years ago, at the water’s edge, the image is no longer that of man versus the sea, but rather of people spreading their wings.


Scenes of Carioca Life – 1910

Scenes from the Largo da Sé market, aka modern-day Praça Monte Castelo, in downtown Rio next to the Museu do Negro. Click the images below to enlarge. Click here to get an idea of the whole market at the time.

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The Italian fish guy

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Open air fish-seller, awaiting a customer because the guy next to him isn’t buying

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Complaints about vegetable prices and quality

(Source: Careta)

Two cartoons – 1933

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.47.34 PMThe one above is part of a late 1933 series of cartoons (from Revista da Semana) called Variações Turisticas, where a British man is shown Rio de Janeiro by a malandro guide. In this section, we see them in downtown:

– “What’s the purpose of the sidewalks?”
– “You don’t know, then? They’re for posts.”

On the right side, we see a typical scene at the time, with dogs barking, music playing, cars noisely going by, and vendors selling tomatoes and popsicles…all things you can still find in the Centro.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.53.30 PM In this cartoon, dated October 1933 (so that’s basically Brazilian summer), we see the phrase “Calor” (Heat) at the top and a maid talking to her employer:

– “My lady, your husband isn’t in the garden, nor the bedroom or the office.”
– “Did you check in the refrigerator?”

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


Creation of Penha – 1927

Construção da Penha - Apr 1927(uma bella rua já construida onde se vê a encantadora Igreja da Penha)

This cool picture (click to enlarge) was found in the April 9th 1927 edition of RdS, under an article called “A Solução do Problema da Habitação: As Obras da Cia. Brasileira de Terrenos na Penha” (The Solution to the Housing Problem: Construction by the Brazilian Land Company in Penha). The company was working on 700k square meters of land, divided up into 1,500 lots, building 500 “hygenic” houses to be sold in installments.

I tried to find what street this is today but had some difficulty. Given the angle, I’d venture to say it’s Estrada José Rucas that connects with Av. Nossa Senhora da Penha. Edit: I found a reference stating it’s actually Rua Maçapuri.