This lecture is about the future of São Paulo as seen by politicians, intellectuals, and the press in the 1950s. From the perspective of urban planners and politicians, there was a dispute between two fundamental destinies for the city. The first and strongest one believed São Paulo should be prepared with all kinds of urban interventions to become one of the best and biggest metropolises in the world―a standpoint embraced by the State and embodied by people like Francisco Prestes Maia and Robert Moses, both influential urban planners. The second, an alternative perspective, defended a radical transformation of São Paulo, which then would become a well-planned confederation of small garden cities, each one with no more than 30 thousand people, and all spread through a territory 20 times larger than the occupied by the city at that moment―a point of view represented especially by Luís de Anhaia Mello, also a urban planner. These two futures, even if opposed to each other, were both optimists and imagined bright futures for São Paulo. But a third representation, born to that dispute, was pessimist and condemned the metropolis to become a dead city if nothing was done to prevent that. Intellectuals from humanities and the press―who were optimists at the beginning of the 1950s, in general agreeing with the first destiny―shifted their opinion during this decade. As the debate between urban planners went on, both intellectuals and the press were increasingly moved away from the optimist points of view and adopted a pessimist one, similar to that third perspective. This presentation’s main objective is to offer some explanations on why and how that happened, showing the relationships among all of these futures of São Paulo.
Bruno de Macedo Zorek is a Historian specialized in Brazilian intellectual and urban history. He is an independent researcher with a Ph.D. acquired in 2019 at the Unicamp/Brazil. His dissertation discusses how intellectuals, politicians, cultural articulators and the press represented the future of São Paulo in the 1950s and explains the transformations in the images of the city that occurred in this period. His research broadens the dissertation question to include New York and Mexico City, aiming to explore some intellectual polemics who changed the transnational representations of what it meant to live in the Americas’ great metropolises in the middle of the 20th century.