Tunnel Vision: Urban Renewal in Rio de Janeiro, 1960-1975

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Kehren, Mark Edward
Weinstein, Barbara
Following the inauguration of the newly constructed capital of Brasília in April 1960, the former federal district and Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro was transformed into the city-state of Guanabara. Although Rio lost its status as the political capital of Brazil after nearly 200 years, extensive urban renewal campaigns to modernize the city were employed by numerous politicians, planners, architects, artists, and ordinary residents to help restore Rio's position as Brazil's "true" capital city. This dissertation examines these urban renewal efforts in Guanabara from 1960 to 1975 - a period when Rio de Janeiro experienced its largest period of population and spatial growth. Whereas many of the urban renewal campaigns and projects for development prior to 1945 were intended to beautify, embellish, and "civilize" the city, the projects of the 1960s and 1970s were highly technical and revolved around integrating the automobile into the urban landscape. The measures of investment and resources devoted to modernizing and reforming the city during the Guanabara period were unprecedented for Rio de Janeiro, consequently resulting in significant spatial, social, cultural, and economic reorganization of the city. "Tunnel Vision: Urban Renewal in Rio de Janeiro, 1960-1975" examines specific projects of urban renewal such as tunnels (Rebouças and Santa Bárbara), expressways, parks (Aterro do Flamengo), subways, overpasses, and beaches while also exploring the technocratic approach to urban planning which was demonstrated through attitudes and principles that often marginalized "non-expert" participation in reforming the city. Using diverse primary sources such as government and urban planning documents, as well as neighborhood association materials, this dissertation also considers broader historical issues such as the politics and culture of military regimes, as well as questions related to the built environment, comparative planning cultures, space, class, race, ethnicity, and popular culture. Furthermore, this study also argues that the politics and culture of urban planning in Rio de Janeiro during the Guanabara period mirrored many of the same political, cultural, and social tensions that existed throughout Brazil and Latin America before and after the Brazilian military coup of 1964.