National Geographic : 1939 May
AS SAO PAULO GROWS Half the World's Coffee Beans Flavor the Life and Speed the Growth of an Inland Brazil City BY W. ROBERT MOORE With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author and Luis Marden "PJ HERE'S a bit more to Brazil than the Amazon and steaming jungles -and more to Sao Paulo than snake and orchid farms, isn't there?" remarked my companion as we looked down from the roof terrace of Sao Paulo's 26-story sky scraper (page 684). Below us reared an uneven pile of bank buildings, commercial houses, and shops. The irregularity and contrasts of the build ing blocks reminded me of an awkward youth rapidly outgrowing his suit. Swiftly in the last few years new struc tures have risen in an ever-widening circle. Trade has been carried beyond the "Trian gle" (page 665). A number of buildings scattered through the district have not yet shed their cocoons of wooden scaffolding. Modern office space is difficult to find. Every street we could see was filled with people. Trading clerks and tired shoppers gathered in slender queues at bus stops; others dodged horn-blowing automobiles at intersections. Guardrails on open-air tram cars that shuttled out the Avenida Sao Joao were festooned with men (page 669). Beyond this business and shopping hub of the city extends a mosaic of rooftops and park areas, the uniformity broken by tall, gleaming apartment houses, some so new that tenants have not yet moved in. FROM BUSH TO MODERN HOMES From our lofty vantage point, however, much of present-day Sao Paulo still was concealed by a wide cycle of low-lying hills that until fairly recently was largely open country. Beyond the crests residential sections have been rapidly expanding. Sec tions that five years ago were smothered in bush now are completely covered with at tractive homes and gardens. The city's growth averages approximately two buildings an hour for every 8-hour working day throughout the year. Yet Sao Paulo is no boom town. Its progress has been well sustained. Though one of the oldest established set tlements in Brazil, it was slow in acquiring momentum; yet in the last sixty years it has increased its population fortyfold to reach the total of some 1,200,000 inhabit ants. COFFEE STIMULATES PROSPERITY Coffee, of course, has afforded Sao Paulo continuous stimulation-and few touches of nerves. Heavy immigration, beginning in the seventies of the past century, gave the impetus. For here came thousands of people, principally Italians, Spanish, and Portuguese, a large portion of whom were given State assistance for migration. In 1895, the peak year, 139,000 newcomers came to the State of Sao Paulo. The majority of these immigrants moved to the interior to provide labor for the coffee plantations and other agricultural enter prises. Some, of course, remained in the city. "The best way to picture the growth of Sao Paulo is to think of it as at the con stricted neck of a funnel, with the wide flaring mouth facing inland," said the Pres ident of the American-operated Mackenzie College, as he scrawled a rough picture in my notebook. Into one side of the mouth he marked "raw materials, southern Brazil"; into the center "Sao Paulo State, richest agricultural section of Brazil-coffee, cotton, citrus fruits"; and on the opposite rim a long line pointing in from "Minas Geraes, nearly the size of Texas" (map, page 660). More miles of railway spread fanwise into the interior from Sao Paulo than from any other place in Brazil, so that it is essen tially a clearinghouse for the wealthiest part of the country. As a corollary to its service as a trade center between the fertile hinterland and world marts, purse-fattened Sao Paulo has set up manufacturing plants to supply many of its ever-growing demands. Thus, fringing the city and tucked in the folds of the outlying hills, are smoking chimneys and humming factories of both Paulista and foreign concerns.