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Notes on the Geography of Great Mirror: Photo 32

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Here's the power plant that opened in 1896. It used a steam engine to generate electricity for the streetcars. Abandoned for some years, it was renovated in the 1980s and reopened as the Centro Cultural Usina Chaminé--that is, the Powerplant Cultural Center.

In case you think that the Ugly American is a postwar phenomenon, consider this anecdote from Henry Pearson in 1911. "The street subway line in Manaos was built by Americans--in fact financed by them--and later sold to the government and for a time the service was good. Then one noon the engineer and his helpers had their siesta interrupted by the blowing out of a cylinder head on the great engine. Unfortunately no one was hurt, the aforementioned public servants escaping. At the time of my arrival new equipment was going in, competent engineers had been engaged and better service was in sight" (pp. 96-7).

Yes, I know: you were never under any illusions on this score. Are visitors to the tropics today more generous in their judgments? At the very least, they are definitely more guarded.

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