Shifting the capital from Rio de Janeiro to the heartland was actually quite an old idea. Hipolito Jose da Costa was supportive of it at the turn of the previous century. Jose Bonifácio presented a bill to the Constitutional Assembly of 1823, which was to be dissolved by Dom Pedro I ( Emperor of Brazil ). All Constitutional Assemblies held after the Republic ( 1891, 1934, 1937 and 1946 ) had provisions for the change.
There were several reasons why such a measure should be taken:
- fear of invasions – Brazil had been systematically invaded in the past ( by the French, the Dutch and even by the Portuguese, after Independence ). Having the capital ( Rio de Janeiro ) by the sea made it very vulnerable;
- helping develop the heartland;
- security reasons – A smaller city would be easier to control in the event of riots or the like. Also, popular demand would be of lesser extent.
Brasilia was constructed between 1956 and 1960, during the government of President Juscelino Kubitschek. It was inaugurated, as Brazil’s new capital, on April 21, 1960. Its master plan ( ‘Plano Piloto’ ) was conceived by Lucio Costa, and its major buildings were designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Brasilia was designed to have the shape of an airplane, sometimes viewed as a giant bird.
In the end, Brasilia came to be as a result of one man’s will to take this cause with all his heart, after being asked if he would do so by a common citizen in a small town rally.