200-year-old street destroyed in Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Oct 29 (IANS) Historians have criticised a decision of the Rio de Janeiro city officials to destroy a 200-year-old cobblestone street that was discovered last week amid construction work in the Brazilian city’s downtown area.

“We arrived too late. While we were going to the National Historical Heritage Institute to enter a petition with signatures (asking that the cobblestone street be preserved), we were surprised by the news that it no longer exists,” the “SOS Patrimonio” group of historians posted on Facebook.

The stones of the colonial street were removed by the company that is building the modern streetcar line that will travel the streets of downtown Rio, which will be closed to other vehicles beginning in 2016, EFE news reported on Wednesday.

“We have nothing more to say. All that remains is regret. It was the end of a dream,” said historian Marcus Alves, who led the project that tried to save the historic stones that archaeologists estimate were laid between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century.

Alves, an official of the National Archive, said the city lost a unique opportunity to preserve part of “colonial Rio”.

Construction of the streetcar system is part of Rio’s project to revitalise its port area, as was done in Barcelona and Buenos Aires, and is also among the works aimed at sprucing up the city in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games.

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