Category Archives: History

Rio in old postcards

Aqueduto da Carioca, 1911
Caminho aéreo do Pão de Açúcar, 1916
Praça XV, 1924
Avenida Rio Branco, 1913
Avenida Rio Branco, 1913

And this is a series of postcards collected by Baptist missionary Edward (Guy) McLain, probably during the 30s and 40s. They were shared with us by his colleague, Andrew Comings, from the Comings Communiqué blog.Thank you so much, Andrew, they are wonderful.

Vista aérea do Botafogo
Canto do Rio
Vista da cidade e do Corcovado

And finally, a “recent” one, taken in the most beautiful year of last century (from my own, unbiased point of view):

Pão de Açúcar, 1966

Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) in 1966Check also the other old Brazilian postcards (Belém, Porto Alegre and Curitiba) and Rio one century ago, by Marc Ferrez

Sources: Old Postcards from Brazil and Comings Communiqué.

Blog, a Brazilian invention

Photo by Josef Stuefer/ Flickr
Photo by Josef Stuefer/ Flickr

Way before the explosion of blogs (over 156 million according to the latest statistics), way before they were named blogs (web+log), there were “open diaries” written by young techies willing to expand the limits of the web.

The following was one of the first online open diary entries posted by Claudio Pinhanez on the MIT Media Lab website, who is considered the pioneer of this type of communication:

“Vanya on 42nd street”, the movie by Louis Malle, was a blast. Such a long time since I have watched a group of actors performing a text with so much intensity. Saw it on Sunday, but on Monday night I was still excited, and couldn’t take it from my mind. Simple shots, no cutting, and great theater. Actors showing the best of the profession, an step beyond being naturalistic: as a great performance of an actor or actress is achieved when he/she is able to include non-natural reactions which tell you all the conflicts of the characters. Doing that while reciting the long lines of Chekov is extremely hard, but essential. Magic, pure magic.
(Nov. 30th, 94)

Pinhanez, who wrote  a few posts during a 1.5 year period, starting on 14 November 1994, got first a Math degree at Universidade de São Paulo and then his PhD at the MIT. Today he works for IBM. In a recent interview to Veja weekly magazine, he said he conceived his open diary (which didn’t include a mechanism to accept comments) to communicate in real time with other researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

So, were blogs invented by a Brazilian? Yes. I rest my case.



Capoeira through the ages

"Fighting Blacks", watercolor by Augustus Earle, 1822

Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art practiced all over the world, was originally a criminal activity. Even after the abolition of slavery, in 1888, the police would repress any manifestation of Black culture. Lots of the early records were destroyed and capoeira disappeared from several parts of the country, thanks to the repression. It only survived in regions where African culture was particularly strong, such as the cities of Salvador and Rio. In Recife, capital of Pernambuco, it morphed into frevo, a popular dance that was quite rough in the beginning of the 20th century. As recently as the 60s, the umbrella – at the time not covered with fabric – was used as a weapon. Today, it is hard to believe frevo descends from a martial art. Continue reading Capoeira through the ages

7 memorable TV historic series

A Muralha/The Big Wall
A Muralha/The Big Wall

Brazilian TV, namely Rede Globo network, produced some high-quality historic series. These ones definitely deserve a visit:

1 – Casa das Sete Mulheres – Probably the best historic series ever produced in the country. Its about the Revolução Farroupilha, also known as Guerra dos Farrapos, a 10-year revolution that opposed the landowners of the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and the federal government. It also depicts the Brazilian phase of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary that sided with the gaúchos and then went back to Europe, where he fought to unify his country.

Continue reading 7 memorable TV historic series

Carmen Miranda impersonations

Photo by Eric and Christian/Flickr
Photo by Eric and Christian/Flickr

Always imitated, never equaled, singer/actress/persona Carmen Miranda died in 1955, but she remains one of the country’s main icons and ambassadors. A favorite of comedians and drag queens, Carmen is frequently impersonated. This is just a little sample:

First, the hors-concours comedian Lucille Ball, followed by Brazilian rocker Rita Lee, Italian actor Ricardo Billi in 1951 film  “Arrivano in Nostri”, and Derico (musicianat Jô Onze e Meia Brazilian TV program).

Continue reading Carmen Miranda impersonations

7 anthems to celebrate Brazilian Day

Photo by kat.tak/ Flickr
Photo by kat.tak/ Flickr

Let’s celebrate Brazil’s national day with some music. The National anthem may be the most popular – sang in parades on Independence Day and in the opening of soccer games -, but it is certainly not the country’s most beautiful anthem. Do you know the other ones?

1 – Hino à Bandeira – the 1906 Flag Anthem has lyrics by poet Olavo Bilac and music by Francisco Braga.  You can read the lyrics here. It has a peculiarity. There are two versions for the refrain, with only one difference: the word juvenil (youthful) sometimes is substituted by varonil (manly). Traditionally, young people sing the first version, while adults choose the second.

The refrain:

Recebe o afeto que se encerra
em nosso peito juvenil/varonil,
Querido símbolo da terra,
Da amada terra do Brasil!

Continue reading 7 anthems to celebrate Brazilian Day

Nova Friburgo in the 19th Century – photos from Dom Pedro II collection

Cascata do Pinel, Pinel's Waterfall

Settled by 2,000 Swiss immigrants in the northern mountains of the state of Rio, Nova Friburgo has a vague alpine feel that attracts tourists since the 19th century, as you can see in these pictures that belonged to Dom Pedro II, an avid photo collector. They were probably taken by Henschel and Benque, two “Imperial photographers”. You can see other images of this collection at the National Library website.

And, for the record: in the beginning of this year, very heavy rains killed several people in Nova Friburgo. The city is still recovering.


Continue reading Nova Friburgo in the 19th Century – photos from Dom Pedro II collection

Porto Alegre in old postcards

Rua Duque de Caxias, cerca de 1912
Vários postais, provavelmente dos anos 30
Vista aérea, 1950
Anos 50
Anos 50
Avenida Borges de Medeiros, meados dos anos 60
Avenida Sepúlveda, meados dos anos 60
Avenida Borges de Medeiros, meados dos anos 60

Only 73,000 people lived in Porto Alegre, the capital of the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, in 1900. Today, its population is around 1.4 million – but the latest Census informs that now it began to grow in slow motion, like most of the major cities in the region. These post cards show very clearly how it evolved during this period.

Check also for other old Brazilian postcards.

Sources: blogs Colecionáveis e Coleções and  Porto Alegre em meu baú

Rio one century ago, by Marc Ferrez

largo sao francisco de paula
1895 – Largo São Francisco de Paula

The photos made by Marc Ferrez during the last years of the Empire and the beginning of the Republic regime are the best register of life in Rio between the mid 1860s and the late 1910s. He left more than 5,000 images, most of them portraying the city, then the Brazilian capital.

Arcos da Lapa
Arcos da Lapa
1905. Canal do Mangue (Mangrove Canal)
1905. Canal do Mangue (Mangrove Canal)
1910. The neoclassic buildings of Avenida Central (today called Avenida Rio Branco)
1910. The neoclassic buildings of Avenida Central (today called Avenida Rio Branco)
Ordem Terceira do Carmo
Ordem Terceira do Carmo
1890. Guanabara bay seen from Niterói.
1890. Largo do Paço and Primeiro de Março street



1885. From the Corcovado mountain, where today is the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Ferrez made this panoramic that shows the Botafogo bay and Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf mountain)

Sources: Starnews2001 and Flickr