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A Failed 1930s American Town, Lost in Time in the Amazon Rainforest

Henry Ford did not care for dealing with the European countries that controlled the rubber trade, but the Ford Motor Company needed rubber for tires. So he decided to grow his own rubber trees in South America. Ford secured 10,000 square kilometers of land in the Amazon rainforest, and in 1928 shipped in a team of managers, their families, and everything they needed to settle in Brazil. The company built a town called Fordlândia. It was modeled after a utopian vision of small town America, complete with separate neighborhoods for the Americans and the Brazilian workers.

He was very particular about Fordlândia operating like a real mid-Western American town, ensuring that his resident Brazilian workers lived in the American-style housing, complete with white picket fences, and even insisting that they ate American-style food– an unfamiliar diet of oatmeal, canned peaches and brown rice.

Ford wasn’t a fan of the Jazz Age either, and saw the town as an opportunity to recreate America as he had always imagined it. A strict set of rules imposed by the managers. No alcohol, no tobacco, no women inside workers houses, not even football was allowed within the town. Inspectors came to the workers housing to check they were living according to their American standards that had been forced upon them.

As you might guess, Fordlândia had its problems from the beginning. The company town only lasted six years, and Ford never even went there. Read about the short life of Fordlândia, and see plenty of pictures as it was then, and as it is now, at Messy Messy Chic.


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