Patrick Braga: Suburbanizing Rio de Janeiro: 1929–1939

old city plan of Rio de Janeiro

1939 site plan for Cidade Jardim Laranjeiras (Laranjeiras Garden City). map / provided

One of the remarkable aspects of Rio de Janeiro's urban history is that every legally approved change to the physical city from 1902 onward — including lot subdivision, street widening and extension, and new street and public space creation — is documented and freely available from the city government. Projetos Aprovados de Alinhamento (Approved Alignment Projects), abbreviated to PAA, first began under Mayor Pereira Passos, an urban visionary who sought to rank Rio among the world's finest capitals by drawing intensely from European influences. Any change that a party wishes to make to the city's physical fabric from then onward would be documented as a PAA and subject to approval by the city government. As a result, the city has produced a living archive documenting almost every legal change to its built environment in the 20th century, providing the potential to support urban historiographies of an unusually comprehensive degree.

Maps chosen for this exhibition highlight residential lot subdivision practices typical of the 1930s in the industrial North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, the majority of which is referred to as the subúrbio, a term which conjures images of peripheral lived experiences, both socially and materially.

This exhibition is a part of Patrick Braga's (B.A./B.S. URS '17) work as a Cornell Rawlings Presidential Research Scholar.