Fordlandia, an American city in the middle of the Amazon

Photo from the archives of The Henry Ford Foundation/ Flickr

The story of Fordlandia, the now-abandoned pre-fabricated industrial town established by American mogul Henry Ford in the Amazon in the late 20s, is revealed by a new documentary directed by Marinho Andrade and Daniel Augusto. The 51-minute production is beginning to tour film festivals.

Ford invested a little fortune in the project on the banks of Tapajós river, close to Santarém, to secure a source of cultivated rubber for his car assembly lines in Michigan, US. The area was a concession of the Brazilian government. At the time, Fordlandia was one of the most modern cities in the North of the country, with a complete water, sewage and energy infrastructure.

Today, Fordlandia is a mere memory –  as the directors put it, it exposes the “ruins of the capitalist dream”. The documentary tries to understand the reasons behind its failure, which include a malaria outburst, the leaf blight that hit the saplings and a workers riot .

This video clip will give you a little taste of Fordlandia’s days of glory and decadence. It is narrated in English, with subtitles in Portuguese, but some interviews in Portuguese lack subtitles in English.

Also, Atlas Obscura has a really nice set of pictures.

4 thoughts on “Fordlandia, an American city in the middle of the Amazon”

  1. I partly agree with Luciene. Some foreigners (gringos are foreigners) should stay out of Brazil because of the lack of understanding Brazil or ever took the time to understand the place where you want to live/do business. Mr Ford is or was a great example of one “those” foreigners and what is amazing, we live in a time where information is so close to the hands, and you still have those kind of people. True, not everybody is perfect, but that has nothing to do with that at all. How times has changed, you can take the picture of Fordlandia and picture it with the US economy.

  2. A great succes story of integration in Brazil of people from North America (CSA: Confederate States of America) though never was recognized by the USA and foreigners)you can find at Santa Barbara d’Oeste and Americana. Built by them and by time expended with other immigrants from European nations (Italy, Germany,Ireland, Holland, etc etc) and with the black population.

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