This attractive, brightly coloured double-sided map depicts Rio de Janeiro when it was perhaps the world’s most exotic and exciting urban tourist destination. Drafted locally by German-Brazilian cartographers, the work was sponsored by the Serviço Aéreo Condor, which founded in 1927, was Brazil’s second-oldest commercial airline and a highly ambitious project backed by Deutsche Lufthansa; its advertisement is shown on the front side of the map, and notes that it served an amazing 26 destinations across the country.
The front side also showcases the downtown of Rio, detailing streets, parks, highlands, while many major edifices are depicted pictorially. The legend ‘Edificios publicos e particulares’, in the lower left, identifies a further 53 major sites by number. Also shown, are all of the public transit routes throughout the area.
The verso of the map shows the greater city, with its numbered districts, including the legendary beach areas of Copacabana and Ipanema, while noting all major transportation routes.
By 1920, Rio’s population had surged past 1 million, buoyed by Brazil’s decades-long commodities boom (mining, coffee, etc.). The Roaring ‘20s transformed Rio from being, an albeit large, provincial centre into a global sensation, as improvements in transportation made the city accessible to wealthy Europeans and Americans. The Copacabana Palace Hotel (est. 1923) became the nucleus of social life for the elite, who could also now explore the rest of Brazil thanks to Serviço Aéreo Condor!
The present map is a very rare ephemeral work, likely made to be given exclusively to Condor’s clients. We can trace only a single institutional example, held by Brazil’s Arquivo Nacional, which featured the map in a recent online exhibition, O Rio em movimento: cidade natural, cidade construção (October 15 to December 14, 2016).
References: ARQUIVO NACIONAL (Brazil), Catálogo de planos e mapas da cidade do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro: Officinas Graphicas do Archivo Nacional, 1962), no. 222 (p. 68).