PORTO ALEGRE, a city and port of Brazil, capital of the slate of Rio Grande do Sul, at the northern extremity of Lag6a dos Patos on the eastern shore of an estuary called Rio Guahyba, about 1 60 m. from the port of Rio Grande do Sul at the entrance to the lake. The population which contains a large foreign element, chiefly German and Italian, was returned as 73,574 by the census of 1900, including some outlying districts not within urban limits. The municipio (commune), which has an area of 931 sq. m., had a population of nearly 100,000, including a large number of prosperous colonists. The railway from Porto Alegre to Novo Hamburgo and Taquara (55 m.) affords an outlet for some of the older German colonies. The railway from Porto Alegre to Uruguayana is completed from Margem da Taquary to Cacequy, 232 m. Its starting point, Margem da Taquary, is about 80 m. from the city, with which it is connected by river steamers. An extension of the railway is projected from Margem da Taquary to Neustadt on the Novo Hamburgo line, and will give the city direct railway connexion with the principal cities of western and southern Rio Grande do Sul. The Rio Guahyba, which is not a river, was once called " Yiatnao " because its outline is roughly that of the human hand, the rivers entering the estuary at its head corresponding to the fingers. The lower channels of these rivers (the Gravaty, Sinos, Cahy, Jacuhy and Taquary) are all navigable and bring considerable trade to the port. Its foreign trade is limited to light-draught steamers able to cross the bar at the entrance to the lake.
The city occupies a tongue of land projecting into the estuary, and extends along its shores and back to a low wooded hill. Its site, as seen from the water, is attractive, though its larger part is an almost level plain. There are pleasant suburbs along the shore and farther ^ inland (Floresta, Gloria, Moinhos de Vento, i.e. " Windmills," Navigantes and Partenon). The climate is subtropical, cool and bracing in winter but insufferably hot in summer. The mean annual temperature is slightly under 69 F., the average maximum being a little over 82 and the average minimum 59. The annual rainfall is about joj in. The city is regularly laid out with broad, straight, well-paved streets, in great part lined with shady trees. The waterside streets, however, follow the curve of the beach. There are several public squares and gardens, the more important being the Prac,a Harmoma, the Praga d'Alfandega, Pra<;a da Independencia and the Parque, where an exposition was held in 1901. The public water supply is drawn from a range of hills 6 m. distant and is considered good. Porto Alegre, like many Brazilian cities, is in a transition stage, and handsome new structures of French and Italian styles rise from among the low, heavy and plain old buildings of Portuguese origin. Brick and broken stone are chiefly used m the walls, which are plastered outside and tinted. Tiles are used for roofing, and on modern edifices stucco ornamentation is lavishly employed. The most noteworthy public buildings are the Cathedral (Porto Alegre being the see of a Roman Catholic bishop), the handsome church of Nossa Senhora Dores, the municipal palace, school of engineering, government palace, legislative halls, school of medicine, athenaeum, normal school and public library and military barracks. One of the hospitals that of Caridade is the largest in the state. The city is the chief commercial centre of the state and has shipyards for the contraction of river and lake vessels. It manufactures cotton fabrics, ts and shoes, iron safes and stoves, carriages, furniture, butter and aeese, macaroni, preserves, candles, soap and paper.
Porto Alegre was founded in 1743 by immigrants from the Azores and was at first known as Porto dos Cazaes. Owing to the occupation of the southern part of the captaincy by the Spaniards, Governor Jose Marcellino de Figuereido selected this village in 17 70 as his official residence and gave to it the name it now bears. It was made a villa in 1803, and in 1807, when Rio Grande do Sul was made a captaincy-general, the transfer of the capital from Rio Grande to Porto Alegre was officially recognized. In 1822 it was raised to the rank of a city, and in 1841, as a reward for its loyalty in revolutionary wars of that province, it was distinguished by the title of leal e valorosa (loyal and valorous). The first German immigrants to settle near Porto Alegre arrived in 1825, and much of its prosperity and commercial standing is due to the German element.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)