Happy Birthday, Curitiba
On March 29, Curitiba celebrated its 319th birthday. Whether born here or arrived recently from another city, another state, or another country, no one is able to resist the sites and sounds of this charming city.
The Portuguese who founded the village in 1693 gave it the name of Vila da Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais (Village of Our Lady of the Light of the Pines). The name was changed to Curitiba in 1721.
Curitiba’s rapid expansion over the past 300 years was based originally on the cattle trade, the City being located half-way between the cattle breeding country to the south and the markets to the north. Waves of European immigrants started arriving after 1850, mainly Germans, Italians, Poles and Ukrainians, contributing to the economic and cultural development of Curitiba.
Perhaps no one knows Curitiba better than Curitiba journalist Eduardo Fenians, better known as the Urbenauta. Over a 10-year period, Fenians traced the history of all the neighborhoods of Curitiba. After publishing a series of books on Curitiba, the Urbenauta accomplished his greatest feat – spending100 days navigating the streets of Curitiba in his car without ever leaving the city or going home. He spent his nights with friends or strangers willing to take him in, including an organized group of “punks” who had occupied an empty house. Now 15 years after his epic journey, Fenians would like to revisit his expedition, if on a smaller scale. He believes the city has changed a great deal in the years since his detailed research, and he wants to record his new trip in photos and videos.
In 2010 Curitiba was awarded the Globe Sustainable City Award, which was set up to recognize cities and municipalities which excel in sustainable urban development around the world.According to the US magazine Reader’s Digest, Curitiba is the best place to live in Brazil. And last month, Travelers Digest released a list of the world’s ten most livable cities. Curitiba was named the 8th best city in the world to live in.
Happy Birthday to our old and new and lovely city!
[Photos of Curitiba by Michael Rubin]