Society

Not just Henry Ford: a history of failed projects in the Amazon

American industrialist Henry Ford famously tried to build his own rubber-producing utopia in the Brazilian Amazon, but the project ended up in farce. However, he wasn't the only one

The ruins of Velho Airão, in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo: Luciana Christante/Flickr
The ruins of Velho Airão, in the Brazilian Amazon. Photo: Luciana Christante/Flickr

Three years ago, The Brazilian Report told the story of Fordlândia, the ambitious yet cack-handed project of industrialist Henry Ford, who sought to build an American utopia in the middle of the Amazon rainforest in the 1920s.

With London in control of the world’s rubber trade, Ford sought to create his own idyllic plantation in northern Brazil and manufacture tires for his world-renowned motor company. Beyond tapping rubber, however, Ford’s vision for Fordlândia was to build a puritanical American midwest community, with all of the Christian values he had grown up with — as well as the traditional American-style...

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