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A Digital Dive Into Rio de Janeiro's Past

A Rice University mapping project seeks to illustrate “the social and urban evolution” of the city since its birth.
relates to A Digital Dive Into Rio de Janeiro's Past
imagineRio

Rio de Janeiro is “a city of multiple and contradictory layers, at once exposed and hidden by its beauty and complex topography,” writes Sandra Jovchelovitch, a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. What she means is that, on one hand, this dense Brazilian city boasts some world’s most iconic architecture and monuments—it’s a cidade maravilhosa or "marvelous city," as Uri Friedman notes. On the other, it’s home to a sea of favelas—urban shantytowns ridden with poverty and lawlessness that are the most visible evidence of the city’s acute inequalities.

But how did it come to be this way? That’s what a new mapping project by Rice University seeks to illustrate. “The platform imagineRio is a searchable atlas that illustrates the social and urban evolution of Rio de Janeiro over the entire history of the city, as it existed and as it was often imagined,” the project’s description reads.