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Notes on the Geography of Brazil: São Paulo: Photo 24

world pictures Brazil: São Paulo

Here's the famous Edificio Martinelli, from 1929 and until 1936 the highest building in the world outside the U.S. The building had a Hungarian architect, William Fillinger, but it also had a very assertive owner. Giuseppe Martinelli wanted 30 floors, and he got them by adding his mansion at the top.

Martinelli was an immigrant who became a butcher before starting to ship food to Europe. This was a smart move in World War I, and Martinelli began dreamimg of a mixed-use tower, part commercial, part residential, part hotel. He built it, and it became Brazil's first condominium. Things went famously until 1929. An Italian bank, ICLE, bought the building from Martinelli, only to wish it hadn't. That's because World War II came along, and the property was confiscated. Things went downhill fast, with the building becoming a tenement known as Building America. Eventually the residents were evicted and the building was reinaugurated in 1979. Still about a third privately owned, it is partly occupied by government departments of municipal planning. Martinelli avoided the building after he lost it but went on to build eight highrises in Rio.

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