Spaniards and Portuguese imagined their settlement in the New World as focused on urban spaces—not the real cities from which they came, but those envisaged by theorists since Roman times, beginning with Vitruvius. Rectilinear towns with central plazas and prominently placed churches and government palaces made religious and secular authority real. Besides laying out plans and maintaining order, authorities would also protect the property of the rich and succor the poor and the sick. In Portuguese America these broad functions fell under the rubric of polícia, as is still true today.

Urban planning and social assistance (with an underlying interest in social control) link the 13 chapters of this book edited by two scholars, a German and a Brazilian. All but three chapters deal with Latin America, principally Brazil. But the subjects raised touch on universal issues and experiences as cities...

You do not currently have access to this content.