Curitiba Travel Blog

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The packet we were required to read about Curitiba titled Urban Renewal Municipal Revitalization; The Case of Curitiba, Brazil by Hugh Schwartz was excellent. Schwartz writes about every single aspect of Curitiba’s development. Since we read this before we came to Curitiba, I definitely had high expectations of the city. From the reading, the things about Curitiba that stuck out at me the most were their transportation system, the environmental caution, and the pedestrian-friendly sections of downtown.

Transportation was one of the biggest issues in the development plan. Probably the biggest change was the way the roads were routed. They designed them in threes with the center lane being for buses and the two outer lanes being for one-way traffic each in the opposite direction. They also developed a system of only paying one fare. The feeder bus lines ended in regional terminals so people could travel further and only pay once. This really helped the poorer population so they could afford to take the buses into and out of town for work.

Environmentally, Curitiba has made huge changes from the former city it once was. One of the biggest changes is the number and area of parks within the city limits. In 1970, there was only one significant park. After they finished the development, there were over 24. They even built an incredible botanical garden where there used to be a garbage dump. As we have all learned at Tech, green space is good to help with flooding. These numerous parks not only solved the problem with river runoffs, they also provided a great social medium for people to get outdoors and be more active. The developers did an excellent job recycling old buildings and spaces to build useful places, such as turning a long-abandoned gunpowder storage facility into a theater. Another interesting building is the University of the Free Environment. This is used to conduct research on the environment and to educate the community about how they can help through recycling and not littering.

I think the idea of pedestrian-only walkways is wonderful. It makes the city much more people-friendly, especially for those without cars who live downtown. It’s much easier to access businesses, shopping, and restaurants without having to drive all over the city. With the great bus transportation system, that adds many people from outside the city who are without cars. I think it’s relaxing to walk down a pedestrian-only walkway and not worry about cars and crossing the street to get to a store on the other side. It’s like going shopping in an outdoor mall. Excellent idea!

After reading all of these wonderful things about Curitiba, this amazing city, I had pretty high expectations on my arrival. After spending four days here, I’ve already come to love all of the things that I read about and much more. The parks are incredible. It reminds me of the suburbs where I am from. There are community parks everywhere. But then I have to remind myself that I am in a city of 1.5 million people. It’s wonderful that they can set aside that space for leisure instead of selling it to a building contractor to build a huge building just to make more money. The transportation routes are also ingenious. The tourist route around the city is great! I’ve never heard of that in any other city, but it is great for tourists, obviously, and it probably brings in a great revenue for the bus company. The three-lane road system is also very efficient. Especially with the size of the buses here that can sit up to 270 people, it’s not safe at all to drive those around little cars. I have yet to walk along the pedestrian walkways downtown, but the historic downtown is very nice. Their pedestrian walkways are open and inviting to relax and enjoy the street-life. Curitiba is an experience, not just a city.

My time here has been wonderful so far. I wish we had more time to see the city instead of having to study for our finals. I’m very glad I had the chance to visit for the ten days we are here and see the wonderful changes of urban development that this city has gone through. It definitely has given me a better appreciation of cities and urban planners.

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photo by: joesu