RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Rio de Janeiro was a wealthy city, but was beset by relatively frequent outbreaks of deadly diseases, principally yellow fever, smallpox and even bubonic plague.
In addition to these periodic surges, there was the constant presence of tuberculosis, measles, typhus and leprosy. For these reasons, President Rodrigues Alves gave extraordinary powers to the local government and health authorities of what was then Brazil’s capital to reduce infection in the city.
Some of the measures enacted included mass demolition of residential buildings in Rio’s centre, forcing thousands of . . .