The rise and fall of Henry fords forgotten jungle city
Greg Grandin
Icon Books

So what do you do when you want to built a factory in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon. Not only that you want to employ thousands of people who don’t live there so you need to create homes. To get the space you will need to fell the land of what’s there, plant rubber trees as that’s the industry you are in. Also you will need to get goods in and out of an area that doesn’t already have the infrastructure in place. Oh and you want little government involvement, other than to give you the land and free fettle over it. Oh, and you had never visited the area previously.

Well if you were Henry Ford you plough into your plan regardless. You dispatch people to fix your problems and hope nature doesn’t drag you down too much. Which it does, especially if you burn trees. And bring in people to work who have nowhere to live so structures are built with poor foundations.

Rome wasn’t built in a day so fordlandia (Portuguese for Fordville) is planned and out together. Whilst reading this excellent account I am imagining this to be a movie script, probably carton like. Big baron comes to desolate land, promises the locals the sun, moon and stars, which they already see daily but are convinced by your arguments.

Ford gets the land, sends people to build. Initial problems are wide ranging but they keep trying. It does take shape as a slight on the Amazon. With the arrival of thousands of people came health problems. Where to go with all the people contacting malaria?. Where does the produce come from to keep them fed? What to do in their leisure time? Ford was completely in favor of prohibition and forbade smoking. A golf course was built, homes of various grandeur. All in the Amazon climate which for some was like “living in a steam bath”. With so many people and illnesses came practical issues, with life comes death. 1 person was dying daily and a cemetery needed to be built.

You can imagine what went on from there and this is a perfect document of those crazy times but the real question is as the Earth is heating up have we learned anything in the proceeding century regarding the rainforest


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