Today I open my trunk to show some souvenirs from the Fourth Centennial of São Paulo: pictures from a magazine showing a recently opened Ibirapuera Park, still unfinished, and from a calendar of that year. It's a small tribute to my city, that celebrates today the 453th anniversary of its foundation.
I'm a second-generation paulistano. My mother, who was the daughter of a Portuguese father and an Austrian mother, was born on the Brás neighborhood, which at that time was an Italina town within the city - a typical São Paulo mix! My grandson is, therefore, a fourth-generation paulistano. It is difficult for those who don't live here to understand how it is possible to love this city. But for those who come live here with an open mind, without preconceived ideas and without the intention of returning home as fast as possible, the city will slowly reveal its charms, its secrets, its beuty, its fringe benefits. People begin to learn that it is possible for any person to discover in São Paulo their own town, suited to their tastes, hobbies, idiosyncrasies. Very few cities in the world are so self-sufficient, so complete in what they offer their dwellers.
São Paulo today is very different from the city of my childhood, of course. Worse? The first impulse is to say Yes: to remember the calm streets, the wide horizons, the merchants we knew by name. But on a second thought we see that in the last years many things are changinf for better. Today we have a much more intense cultural life, great musicals, a world-class symphonic orchestra. Birds are returning to the city thanks to the planting of trees that attract them. The Tietê river is undergoing a huge depollution project which must be maintained for decades to get to the results we all dream about. Ths disorderly growth unfortunately continues, but this will change only when São Paulo ceases to be the dreamland for all desparing people in this country (and the neighboring ones). This vision of São Paulo as the lat hope is something we must be proud of and, at the same time, sad about. In other words, this is another one of the contrasts that compose the portrait of this city of mine...
How will the São Paulo of my grandson be? Much better, I hope. I hope he will be able to navigate on the Tietê, to walk on the streets at night without fear, to breath an air as pure as in the countryside, to see birds that still haven't returned. And that he may continue to enjoy all the advantages of living in one of the largest and most dynamic cities in the world. Oh, and to eat the best pizza on the planet! Happy birthday, São Paulo!