The Maracanã Aqueduct and Its City Pipes: Mapping Water Delivery in Mid-Nineteenth Century Rio De Janeiro

Alida Metcalf, Rice University

The colonial city of Rio de Janeiro relied on one aqueduct to bring water to public fountains and on domestic slaves and chain gangs of convicts to carry water from fountains to residences. Only a few sites had direct access to water. Early in the nineteenth century, a second aqueduct—the Maracanã—brought substantially more water into the city, but the reliance on forced labor continued even as entrepreneurs became active in the water business, delivering water in huge barrels dragged by mule-drawn carts. The route of the aqueduct was improved in the 1840s, and much of it was directed through buried iron pipes. A map from 1845 proposes a plan for delivering water from the Maracanã Aqueduct to areas of the city of Rio that had historically underserved by water infrastructure. This plan for piped water intended to lay iron pipes beneath the streets and to carry water to areas of the city that had long been underserved by public fountains. This paper will map the proposed water infrastructure and explore how it addressed the longstanding spatial inequalities in water delivery in Rio. A related question to be considered is if this improvement in the water infrastructure reduced the hard labor of slave water carriers, and how it impacted the water businesses in the city.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 120. Urban Historical GIS