Rediscovering Rio: golden age photography

Wandering the flea markets and antique shops of Paris on a recent trip, Hubert Zandberg casually enquired if the shop owner might have some old imagery of Rio. A quick search didn’t show up anything, but as soon as he left the shop to wander down the street, the owner came running after him. He had just opened a box to discover these incredible images of Rio.

Captured during the tropical golden age, they chart Brazil’s rapid development in the mid-20th century. As the waves of the Copacabana were being laid down, and skyscrapers raised along the boardwalk, an anonymous photographer captured these moments for posterity.

Taken as they were before development was complete, some shots show a much quieter side of Rio. Others show the timeless appeal of the beachfront, looking very much like snapshots of Rio from today.

Brazil’s modernisation plan is in full evidence with futuristic shapes starting to grace the landscape, a progression that obviously drew this photographer’s attention.

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