HISTORY OF URBAN FORM: RIO DE JANEIRO URP 104 Evolution of Cities | Fall 2012 | A. M. Whitaker | Nia Dugall
IntroductionOn January 1, 1502, a Portuguese expedition led Location of Rioby Gaspar de Lemos, arrived at what is nowGuanabara Bay, they mistook the bay for themouth of a river, thereby giving it the name Riode Janeiro, "River of January", however notuntil 1565 did the Portuguese actually found thecity of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. With astaggering population of about 6.3 million, Riohas since then developed into the sixth largestcity in the Americas, and was Brazil’s capitaluntil 1960. It has come to be a host of majoroil companies and the largest media and communications corporation in Latin America,making it significant in the global economy, Rio has also become a favoritedestination for vacationers, with its famous beaches, dramatic mountainscape,carnival celebrations, and landmarks such as the Christ the Redeemer statue; there isno wonder why it is the most visited city in the southern hemisphere. Its nick nameis the very fitting Cidade Maravilhosa or "Marvelous City", and will be a host of the2016 Summer Olympics. This popularity however, is somewhat marred by the overwhelmingviolence and drug activity that plagues the favelas. Even though Brazil isexperiencing the lowest poverty rate in 15 years at 21.4%, there are still existingand pressing issues concerning poverty, but they are being addressed by Brazil’ssocialist government.
The “City of God:In an attempt to remove the favelas from the middle of Rio de Janeiro, the Guanabarastate government displaced theinhabitants from the favelas to asuburb in the western zone of Rio inthe 1960s (the area, however, wasstill referred to as a favela). Thisis notorious Brazilian slum is wherethe story began for a group of youngboys growing up in a one of theseBrazilian neighborhoods calledCidade de Deus or "The City of God".Ridden with poverty, drugs, and crime, the boys were exposed to horrific scenes ofviolence at young ages. Their lives are chronicled in a harrowing coming of age storythat is both disturbing in some moments and triumphant in other. The moviespecifically tells the tale of one boy named Rocket, who refrains from participatingin the growing organized crime and drug industry that was consuming the neighborhoodduring the 60s, 70s, and 80s. He chose instead to pursue his longtime interest ofbecoming a photographer. The plot also revolves around an ongoing drug war betweentwo youth gangs, lead by two young men trying to avenge the wrongs committed by oneanother.
The movie represents the Rio favela in a very harsh manner, showing a corruptpolice force, destitute inhabitants, widespread violence, gang activity, and drugs.The movie was directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund and was an adaptation ofthe book “Cidade de Deus” written by Paulo Lins, both pieces shed light on theever-present issue of the impoverished favelas in Rio de Janeiro. The movie does notshow any other parts of the city except for the beach, which must be the famedCopacabana. Throughout the film we get a glimpse of the unique infastructure of thefavelas and how they affected the culture and everyday lives of the inhabitants.However, famous Landmarks like the Christ the Redeemer Statue, the Theatro Municipal,the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Monumento Aos Pracinhas, were not displayed atall in the film.Rio de JaneiroPraised to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, Rio de Janeiro is nestledbetween a dramatic forestedmountainscape and the ocean,adjacent to the natural harborGuanabara Bay. A narrow strip ofland on Brazil’s Atlantic coast,in the south-east of the country,Rio has miles of beaches overlooked by steep mountains reaching up to 700ft.
Brazil was discovered by accident in 1500 by a Portugues e fleet lead by PedroAlvares Cabral, when they eventually colonized the area and gave it Brazil, after thevaluable brazil-wood, it was because of their desire to prevent the Spanish andFrench from acquiring more land, they did not, however, anticipate any significanteconomic turnover. In 1548, Tome de Souza was appointed first captain general and wasallowed to select a city to serve as the capital for Brazil, he chose Bahia, which ispresent day Salvador. In the following decade’s cities such as: Sao Paulo, Paraiba,and more importantly, Rio de Janeiro were established.In the early 1700’s, gold and diamondmining helped develop the colony’seconomy and spured migration from Europeto Brazil, and when the capital was movedfrom Bahia to Rio de Janeiro in 1763, thecity began to expand rapidly. In 1808, thecity also benefitted from the Portugueseroyal families production of coffee, Rioprospered and in eight years, hundreds ofhouses and country houses were built,structures were renovated, streets were given better lighting and paving, the landwas further extended, and new roads were made. By 1821, Rio had a population ofnearly 113,000 inhabitants and 13,500 buildings, the city stretched towards the northand south. Brazil achieved independence in 1822. As Rio began to experience great
success in the coffee, cotton, sugar, and rubberindustries, it began to reshape its self, andstarted by destroying remnants from it colonialpast. They went on to install publictransportation, a railroad, and a sewage system.Throughout its expansion, Rio maintained asomewhat strict grid pattern that wasestablished in the early nineteenthcentury. However, in the favelas, thereis no plan or grid followed, Rio’slinear beach front made it easy forplans to be made for housing and such.By the 20th century the population in Rio grew to 1.5 million because of migrationfrom other parts of Brazil. The growth slowedwhen the capital was moved, but did not detersignificantly as the city reached 5 million by1980. Soon enough high-rise buildings began tomake up the skyline of the city, and Rio wasput on the map as a major global force andtourist destination.
City of God vs. Reality Movie Actuality Rio de Janeiros favelas are unsafe Rio is certainly in need of and impoverished revitalization in their favelas The police force is corrupt and is A corrupt task force has been an of no help to the community issue for Rio de Janeiro. The next generation is growing to be criminals and further terrorist to Even though there are parts of Rio the community that are struggling, the city is actually doing well, its poverty "If you run, the beast catches; if level is decreasing significantly. you stay, the beast eats" a Tourism has not seen any drop, and Brazilian proverb very similar to certain industries are on the rise. the English saying "Damned if you do, damned if you dont".Suggestion to Movie StudioRio de Janeiro is a beautiful city that is both flawed and brilliant; it hascontrasts that seem very unfair and problematic. What I suggest, is to highlight thisattribute in the film instead of having it be so one-sided. There are monuments,landmarks, and amenities in Rio that cannot be found anywhere else in the world andthat should be highlighted, its dramatic mountainscape, carnival celebrations, andlandmarks such as the Christ the Redeemer statue, could provide a differentperspective of Rio for the audience to think about.
Bibliography<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718501000124#>.Cidade de Deus. Dir. Fernando Meirelles. Perf. Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino. M6 videÌo[eÌd.], 2003. DVD.Country. "Brazil | Data." Data | The World Bank. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. <http://data.worldbank.org/country/brazil>."Geography: Human Environments: Urban Change â€“ A Case Study of Rio de Janeiro - Resources." Supporting Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), quality and improvement, assessment, community and lifelong learning - Education Scotland. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. <http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/resources/nq/g/nqresource_tcm4414218.asp>."History of Rio." Macalester College: Private Liberal Arts College . N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. <http://www.macalester.edu/courses/geog61/chad/history.htm>.Morris, A. E. J.. History of urban form: before the industrial revolutions . 3rd ed. Harlow, Essex, England: Longman Scientific & Technical :, 1994. Print.MLA formatting by BibMe.org.