History and museums
Paulista Avenue (Avenida Paulista in Portuguese, Paulista being the gentilic for those born in São Paulo state) is one of the most important avenues in São Paulo, Brazil. The 2.8 kilometre thoroughfare is notable for headquartering a large number of financial and cultural institutions, as well as being home to an extensive shopping area and to South America's most comprehensive fine-art museum, MASP. Since the 1960s, the avenue has been identified as one of the main business centers in the city. Being one of the highest points in São Paulo, it is distinctively clustered with radio and TV stations antennae, such as Gazeta's. The road is served by a subway line and many major bus routes. The avenue, which was inaugurated in December 8, 1891, is generally regarded as the most expensive real estate anywhere in South America.
Paulista Avenue was constructed in 1891 by Joaquim Eugênio de Lima (1845-1902), a Uruguayan-Brazilian civil engineer. Once a residential neighbourhood thoroughfare flanked by lavishly ornate mansions with Arabesque and European themes of the city's coffee barons and industry entrepreneurs such as the Matarazzo family. Paulista Avenue Number One belonged to the Von Bülow family, founders and operators of the Antarctica brewery. The first multi-story building on the avenue was a seven-story structure at the corner of Paulista and Frei Caneca constructed in 1939. The avenue then underwent a massive verticalization from the 1950s on. Neo-Classic, Hindu-style and Middle Eastern architectonic structures were then torn down overnight as a precaution against fiscalization or resistance from the population. The most important of the ones which still stand to this day is Casa das Rosas, near Praça Osvaldo Cruz in the very beginning of the long avenue. It was turned into a cultural center in the late 1980s. The house has oil/hydraulic heat radiators, a luxury only the millionaire could afford.
The avenue is home to some of the world's biggest financial institutions and a symbol of the economic power of State of São Paulo, along with the newer Avenida Engenheiro Luís Carlos Berrini, and Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima, further south from here. It goes across the sections of Paraíso, Bela Vista, Jardim Paulista, Cerqueira César and Jardim América, ending in Higienópolis. Its major crossroads are Avenida Brigadeiro Luis Antonio, Rua Augusta, Rua Haddock Lobo, and Rua da Consolação. Parallel to it are Cincinato Braga, Joaquim Eugenio de Lima on the Bela Vista/Paraíso side and Alameda Santos and the fancy Coronel Oscar Freire on the Jardins side. It is estimated that more than 800,000 Paulistas commute to Avenida Paulista daily. Traffic is often bumper-to-bumper, particularly because of the many bus lines that go across it to the West, South, North, and East sides of the city.
The avenue has an efficient subway system, with the Line 2 (Green Line) of the Metrô (São Paulo's Metro system) running underneath the avenue from one end to the other. This line, which is still relatively new and under construction, connects the East and West sides of the metropolis having transfers to the Line 1 (Blue Line), the Line 4 (Yellow Line), and the train Line 10 (Turquoise Line).
Paulista is home to a small native forest park, the Parque Siqueira Campos, commonly called Trianon, and to the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo). MASP is known not only for its excellent collection of European and national paintings, sketches, and sculptures by Renoir, Picasso and Modernist Brazilian authors, but also for the modern architecture of its building, whose exhibition room is made of a single block of concrete and glass windows suspended and supported by two vertical concrete columns so the view of 9 de Julho Avenue and the Cantareira mountain range north of here is not spoiled. The empty space or vault covered by cobblestones is used by the Feira de Antiguidade—Antique fair—every Sunday, open movie projections and other cultural and political manifestations. Dedicated in 1968 by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, MASP is, due to conformity, a city landmark.
The São Paulo Gay Pride Parade in May/June, the largest in the world, and the Saint Silvester Road Race on New Year's Eve take place on this avenue yearly. Celebrations of local soccer teams and world cup championships and political demonstrations also have Paulista as a stage.
The avenue is also renowned for excellent private schools such as Maria Imaculada school for girls; the Anglican Saint Paul's school; Dante Alighieri private school, Alumni English Language Institute, São Luis University and School, Casa di Cultura Italiana, and Objetivo Preparatory School. The Rodrigues Alves public school, in front of Hospital Santa Catarina, is housed in a yellow neo-classic building.
Amongst the Paulista avenue cultural centers are Centro Cultural Itaú near Casa das Rosas in Paraiso with frequent exhibitions, the Centro Cultural FIESP/CIESP, near the MASP subway station, which besides its exhibitions of arts and crafts, houses the famous Teatro Brasileiro de Comedia with free tickets distributed weekly. Some of the São Paulo's best hospitals such as Hospital Alemão Osvaldo Cruz, Paulistano, Clínicas, Emilio Ribas and Beneficência Portuguesa are also in the area. Center Três, Conjunto Nacional, Grande Avenida, Gazeta, Top Center and Shopping Pátio Paulista mall have coffee shops, internet facilities, restaurants, luncheonettes, shops and/or movie theaters.
Some of the remaining mansions and banks are annually decorated during the Christmas season, drawing crowds for picture taking. Despite having different shopping centers, eateries and cultural facilities that cater to the populations of each region of this sprawling state capital, São Paulo city takes pride in choosing Avenida Paulista as its most expressive symbol.