There is no such thing as a neighborhood oficially called Maracanã. Maracanã is the name of the river that descends from Tijuca massif and surrounds the stadium, which was the largest in the world, when it was inaugurated during the World Cup in 1950. Other rivers - Joana, Trapicheiros and Rio Comprido - flowed in the region, leaving it permanently flooded much of the year. It was a great and mighty mangrove, unoccupid until the site began to be transformed with drainages, grounds allowing paths for wagons and the opening of streets. In the nineteenth century, urbanization works, canalization of rivers and the passage of the railway brought new residents to the neighborhood (Tijuca, Aldeia Campista and Vila Isabel) and, along with them, the establishment of an area for leisure – a great lawn for the sport that was in fashion at the time, turf, based on bets and horse racing.
It was during the time known as Estado Novo that the construction of a sports arena was designed to demonstrate Brazil’s greatness and the 'best football in the world'. A real colossus built for 200,000 people would occupy part of the land left by Derby Club. The stadium was born patriotic, right beside an unfinished building that would later become the slum Favela do Esqueleto before being evicted, giving way to UERJ. Today, Praça da Bandeira, a place where people usually pass by and don’t spend much time, hides small tree-lined streets and places of the past under highways and viaducts. A new bohemia emerges with the New Maracanã – rich, beautiful, organized, but that still leaves a longing for the people who used to go there before.