Henry Ford’s Attempt at Utopia in the Amazon
In 1928, Henry Ford established Fordlandia, his own rubber farm in the Amazon in Brazil. He sent an envoy of supplies and Ford workers to a 6,000-square-mile plot of land on the Amazon River. The charter's mission was to embed American suburbia in the heart of the rainforest. Within a relatively short period of time, they’d set up homes, running water, electricity—plus all kinds of other extras (like swimming pools) that played to Ford’s belief that leisure was an essential part of the economy.
Local workers were expected to adopt a suburban Michigan lifestyle, too—along with a healthy dose of Ford’s own morals, which meant that both booze and ladies were outlawed within the town. According to a terrific podcast from How Things Work, the transplant town even hosted mandatory square dancing. Hamburgers and other American fare featured in the cafeteria.
From “On Henry Ford’s 150th Birthday, a Look Inside His Failed Utopia” by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan for Gizmodo, 2013; Photo from the Collections of Henry Ford
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