The Port of Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Known as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, it is unique among Latin American urban areas. It was the capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1960, first while Brazil was a Portuguese colony and later with Brazilian sovereignty. It was for a time the capital of the Portuguese Empire (1808-1821). Known by many as A Cidade Maravilhosa (The Marvelous City), the Port of Rio de Janeiro is famous for its natural beauty, Carnaval, samba and bossa nova, and famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema.
Taken 23 August 2012.
Photo by bisonlux
In 1960, the national capital was moved to inland Brasilia, a new planned federal district carved out of the jungle. In spite of its loss of status and funding, the Port of Rio de Janeiro has thrived as a financial and commercial center and Brazil’s major tourist destination. In 2006, over six million people called the Port of Rio de Janeiro home, and more than 11.5 million people lived in the greater metropolitan area.
Portuguese navigators arrived in the area in January 1502, mistaking Guanabara Bay for a river’s mouth and calling it Rio (river) de Janeiro (of January). Magellan re-supplied his ships in the bay in 1519, when French smugglers already used the bay for smuggling brazilwood. The first permanent European settlement was established in 1555 when France’s Nicolas Durand de Villegaignon brought 600 soldiers and colonists (French Huguenots and Swiss Calvinists) on two ships and called it “France Antarctique.”
The town’s foundations were laid in 1565 by Portuguese knight Estacio de Sa, and it became the colony’s capital in 1763. De Sa called the town Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, and it was called Sao Sebastiao for some time. Established as a base to invade French settlements, the French were expelled from the area in 1567. Until the early 18th Century, Sao Sebastiao was the frequent victim of pirate and privateer attacks, particularly by Portugal’s Dutch and French enemies.
The City Palace by Karl Wilhelm von Theremin (1784-1852.
Photo by Karl Wilhelm von Theremin
The Port of Rio de Janeiro was actually founded at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain but later moved to the top of a nearby hill in the medieval European style of fortified castles. Since then the place is called Morro de Castelo (Castle Hill), and the Port of Rio de Janeiro developed to the south and west, as it continues to do today.
The Portuguese King began to treat the village as an important strategic location for Atlantic shipping in the late 16th Century. Ships moved between Portugal, Brazil, Africa, and Europe. The Portuguese built forts and formed alliances with native tribes for defense from invaders that included Araiboia, a Tamoio Indian chief. The first industry in the area of the Port of Rio de Janeiro was based on sugarcane, and African slaves were imported for labor. The sugar industry struggled as high-quality sugar cane from northern Brazil became available.
In 1808, the Portuguese royal family and nobles fleeing Napoleon’s armies moved to the Port of Rio de Janeiro, making it the only European capital outside the continent of Europe. Many Port of Rio de Janeiro residents were evicted by the Portuguese nobility when they could not find acceptable accommodations there. Prince Pedro I proclaimed Brazil’s independence in 1822, and he chose to make the Port of Rio de Janeiro the capital of the new empire. Even when the monarchy fell to the republic in 1889, it continued to be the country’s capital.
Scanned from period stereoptical view card published by the Keystone View Company in 1914.
Photo by Keystone View Company
After independence, the State of Rio de Janeiro saw an expansion of coffee plantations that spurred new development of the Port of Rio de Janeiro. Former nobles moved to the north, and bankers and merchants moved into the Port of Rio de Janeiro. The appearance of the Port of Rio de Janeiro began to change as its export trade grew. Exports like coffee, cotton, rubber, and sugar enriched the Port of Rio de Janeiro. In 1838, horse-drawn buses replaced the earlier ox-cart traffic, and the first trams appeared in 1868. The railways were established in 1852, and gas street lights replaced the older oil lamps in 1854. Public sewers were installed in 1864, and telephones appeared in 1877.
When it became the capital for the Republic of Brazil in 1889, the Port of Rio de Janeiro was already a large city. In 1890, over half a million people lived there, making it one of the biggest cities in the world. It was designated Brazil’s Federal District in 1891. In the early 20th Century, ambitious development was undertaken. Swamps were drained. Slums were cleared. Streets were paved and widened. Today’s important central avenue, Avenida Rio Branco, was opened in 1912. Improvements reduced the cases of yellow fever and smallpox that had haunted the Port of Rio de Janeiro.
Atlantic Avenue, opposite the Copacabana Palace. circa 1930
Photo by Unknown
By 1920, more than a million people lived in the Port of Rio de Janeiro, and almost two million people lived there by 1940. During that period, industrial establishments tripled. Castle Hill was destroyed, and the city center was expanded by land reclamation. Skyscrapers appeared, and electric streetcars moved people through the Port of Rio de Janeiro. Neighborhoods of rich and poor began to form, with the lower-class and poverty-stricken populations gathering near the industrial areas.
By the middle of the 20th Century, immigration from the hinterlands and natural growth forced greater expansion of the Port of Rio de Janeiro. By 1960, over three million people lived there. After the capital was moved to Brasilia, growth slowed some, but the suburban areas continued to explode. More than eight million people lived in the urban area of the Port of Rio de Janeiro by 1980 and, by the turn of the Century, it was home to more than 11 million souls.
View of Rio de Janeiro in the direction of Copacabana and Ipanema. Taken 3 May 2004.
Photo by Breogan67
In the late 20th Century, expanding growth and widespread use of automobiles forced more change. The highway systems expanded, more skyscrapers grew up, and large residential towers replaced small apartment buildings. The poorer residents were forced to move to the city’s borders, and favelas appeared on the hillsides. Affluent citizens moved from the Port of Rio de Janeiro’s city center to the southwest, particularly to Ipanema and Leblon.
Today, the Port of Rio de Janeiro is the country’s second largest manufacturing center after Sao Paulo. Its service sector is busy and growing, with more jobs serving finance, entertainment, communications, education, computer engineering, and tourism. Despite high rates of crime and serious pollution problems, the Port of Rio de Janeiro is still known as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
As the capital of Brazil prior to 1960, the Port of Rio de Janeiro attracted many state-owned company headquarters. Even after the capital was moved, companies moved into the Port of Rio de Janeiro. When oil was discovered in the Campos Basin, many oil and gas companies headquartered there, including Shell, EBX, and Esso. Several telecommunications companies also established their headquarters there.
Photo by Artyominc
Today, the Port of Rio de Janeiro is home to many industries that produce chemicals and petroleum products, processed foods, pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, furniture, metal products, and ships. Even so, the service sector dominates the Port of Rio de Janeiro’s economy, and tourism and entertainment are mainstays.