On January 25th 1554, José de Anchieta, a Portuguese Jesuit, began a mission to convert the indians and founded a college, which would become the city of São Paulo. The Jesuits were followed by another group who also had interest in indians : the bandeirantes, who wanted to enslave the indians and use them as cheap labour.
Until the end of the 17th century, the bandeiras, the exploratory expeditions organized and led by the bandeirantes, were the main economic activity of São Paulo. The need to control the production and commerce of gold was the main reason to turn the port of Rio de Janeiro into the administrative center of Brazil. As a consequence, São Paulo lost much of the former independence.
With the decline of the gold activity, the Portuguese decided to encourage the culture of sugar cane in the state. The situation then was much different from the 1500s : the inside lands had been already explored by the bandeirantes, and many villages had been founded ; the state was much more populated and many people who had abandoned the quest for gold were looking for an alternative occupation. By mid 19th century, São Paulo was the largest producer of coffee in Brazil.
In 1888, slavery was abolished in Brazil. Since the 1870s until 1930, many immigrants, the majority of which was Italian and Japanese were attracted to work on the coffee plantations, substituting slave work.
In the 60's, under Juscelino Kubitchek the industry started to grow and attracted another wave of immigrants. Later people from the north of Brazil, looking for work and escaping from the unfavourable conditions of this poor region started migrating to the south. They concentrated in the center and spread around. This way, the city became a modern and powerfull region, growing fast and in a vertical way, which explains thelook of the city, regrouping modern skycrapers and high-tech buildings. The history of the city is closely linked to its economic progress.
Today, São Paulo looks as developed as New York and is still growing because of the continous dynamism of its citizens. Although São Paulo is not the Brazilian capital, it´s definitely the one which concentrates all that is best (and worst).
By Olivia, Patrick and Victor