Inaugurated at the end of 1891, São Paulo’s wide, sweeping Avenida Paulista, flanked on either side by interminable rows of soaring skyscrapers leaves you in no doubt you’re at the epicentre of this heaving metropolis. At 120 years of age, the avenue is today one of the city’s most famous landmarks, as well as being the country’s financial hub and a thriving tourist hotspot.
Once the home of affluent coffee barons and these days host to the headquarters of city’s heftiest financial institutions; the street’s trajectory highlights its stature in Brazil’s largest and wealthiest city at the same time as representing the city’s diversity. Constantly reinventing itself, São Paulo’s most recognisable thoroughfare looks set to become a shopping mecca in the near future, following the opening of several major stores in recent months, a trend predicted to continue, despite the locals love of shopping centres.
However, there a few things you perhaps didn’t know about the city’s most famous walkway:
1) Avenida Paulista was the first tarmacked street in Latin America in 1909, with the tarmac itself being imported from Germany. The trend then spread across the city, but Paulista continues to exhibit some of the smoothest tarmac in Brazil, blissfully pot hole free!
2) Around 1.5 million people cruise the streets of Paulista every day, some more purposefully than others! That’s equivalent to the total population of other Brazilian cities like Recife, Porto Alegre or Belém.
3) Women rule the streets of Paulista, with six women for every four men. Relax with a ‘cafézinho’ and engage in a spot of people watching should you be left in doubt.
4) The street wasn’t always known as Paulista, changing its name to Avenida Carlos de Campos in 1927 in posthumous honour to SP’s president of the same name. However, Paulistas (residents of São Paulo city) themselves did not warm to the change and just three years later it was changed back.
5) Some 17 different radio stations transmit from Paulista, representing around 25% of the city’s entire FM dial. Ironically, there are so many antennae competing for airspace, the result is a mishmash of crossed signals making it impossible for residents or businesses located here to tune in to any one station at one time.
Without a doubt, a visit to São Paulo would not be complete without a stroll down Paulista; as well as being home to some of Sao Paulo’s principal cultural centres, such as MASP (São Paulos’s museum of modern art) it’s a melting pot where the many different faces of São Paulo meet, and a chance to get in the way of office workers rushing to and fro with a sense of urgency refreshingly foreign to those on holiday.