In the months prior to leaving Brazil I’d written about walking and psychogeography as means of finding new ways to see, explore and understand the complexities and unseen beauty of São Paulo. It was fitting then, that during those final few months I became increasingly aware of a stencilled call to arms which seemed to echo my own advocacy for urban exploration:
‘See the city’
In the context of an iconic SP location like Parque Ibirapuera – where I took the photograph above – ‘ver a cidade’ (see the city) seems to convey a fairly straightforward observation: look how beautiful our city is. Continue Reading
The Minhocão (known officially as Via Elevado Presidente Costa e Silva), is a 2.2 mile (3.5km) long elevated highway that perhaps exemplifies best how São Paulo came to privilege driving over walking and using public transportation.
Built in 1971, during a period in which the car industry was highly influential* and the city experienced rapid and unplanned growth**, the Minhocão was seen as being the solution to the problem of urban mobility – although today it instead symbolises all the worst aspects of São Paulo’s outdated infrastructure.
The highway earnt its nickname (Minhocão means “big worm”***) from the way in which it snakes through the city, from Barra Funda in the west to República in the centre. However, it might just as well be called “the thrombotic vein”, seeing as it is forever clogged with cars**** being pumped towards the beating heart of the city centre.
My first experience of the Minhocão came one rush hour morning as I caught a lift into town with my father-in-law, and I couldn’t help but be struck by how both sides of it are hugged by office and residential high-rises, although moving at speed made it difficult to fully appreciate this peculiarly intimate relationship.
Elsewhere on the blog I’ve suggested that the quantity and quality of São Paulo’s street art must rank amongst the finest – if not the finest – anywhere in the world.
And by ‘street art’ what I’ve typically referred to is the imagery of pieces such as those of the 1º Museu Aberto de Arte Urbana do Mundo (World’s First Outdoor Urban Art Museum) in the north of the city.
1º Museu Aberto de Arte Urbana do Mundo (Near Santana Metro station)
Does anything of note stand out in the photo below?
My view of São Paulo.
A city skyline? A beautifully crisp sunny day? An abundance of high-rise buildings? The haze of smog above them?
Well yes, but that’s not what I was looking for.
Ok, let’s take a closer look. What about in my street-level photo of Avenida Paulista (São Paulo’s main avenue)?
A traffic jam? More high-rise buildings? Another sunny day?
Again yes, but it’s still not what I’m looking for.
Ok, let’s pause for a moment because maybe I’ve been a little disingenuous. What about if I instead told you that what I was hinting at was not what you can see, but what you can’t?
Take another look…Any ideas now?
Ok, don’t worry about it too much, it took me a while too…