P.M.L. Menezes, B.S. Miceli, V.F. Godoy, M.C. Fernandes

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Geography Department, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has one of the richest iconography and cartography, which demonstrates its urban evolution, from the origins of the Franc-Portuguese occupation. The maps describing the city space were elaborated since the beginning of the occupation, allowing seeing a structured and unequivocal way of its evolution.

The urban evolution of the City is defined by a continuous sequence of works, landfills, dismount of hills and zonings, that few other metropolises in the world might have associated. Through the study of its contours, surroundings, land use and space occupation, it is possible to show that the city can be classified as one of the cities that had suffered more changes of the urban space.

The aim of this paper is to show the research of this urban evolution, supported by cartography, during the period defined among the 17th century and middles of 20th century.

The methodology applied to the research consists of identification of common control points, existent in old maps and still today identified, with coordinates and measures in current projection and coordinate system. The city historical center allows the identification of those points, whose coordinates were measured by DGPS.

The historical maps digital conversion allows establishing maps in raster and vectorial form. The association and adjustments are done through the control points, by affine and polynomials transformations. In that way, it is created an association between the historical map and the present coordinate and projection system (georeference). Thus, maps of past time are linked to the current time.

Those maps created by the explained methodology, establishes a comparative structure among the periods, and it is possible the visualization under a unique cartographic structure, of the area evolution.

To develop the research, old maps were selected, mainly from 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, once previous maps just supplied iconographical information. The old maps belonging to National Historical Archive, Army Historical Archive and Library of Itamaraty Palace, served as the historical cartographic base to the research.

As a preliminary result, the first ten maps sequence submitted to the applied methodology will be presented.