Frontline World

BRAZIL - Curitiba's Urban Experiment, December 2003
a FRONTLINE/World Fellows project
solutions: citizenship
master plan: history
master plan: future
sample citizenship street
In Curitiba, citizenship streets bring city hall to the people.

A decentralized and accessible government has been a cornerstone of Curitiba's planning philosophy since the Master Plan was approved in the 1960s. Curitiba's "citizenship streets" -- mini-malls of government branch offices located throughout the city -- are perhaps its best example of bringing city hall down to size.

The first citizenship street, Boqueirão, opened in 1995, in conjunction with Curitiba's hosting the United Nations' Habitat World Day. This was the first time the international event had been held in a Latin American country. Five additional malls have been constructed since then, at major bus terminals throughout the city. Curitiba's citizenship streets were funded in part by the InterAmerican Development Bank to fulfill its mission of better integrating communities with government.

citizenship street
The streets also host libraries, markets,Ęsports facilities and community meeting rooms.
Each citizenship street houses a regional branch of the various city offices. Nearby residents and commuters can access municipal departments, banking offices, state and federal agencies, and special courts all in one location.

When I visited the Rua Cidadania Pinheirinho citizenship street in the Pinheirinho neighborhood, I saw working-class Curitibanos applying for assistance at the city's affordable housing office. In the same citizenship street, men stood in line at the Banco Social to obtain low-rate loans for jump-starting a small business. I watched people pay their property taxes, register their children for local schools, file for discounted transit passes and sign up for military service. And although the lines were slow, they were a sharp contrast to the notoriously long lines in centralized government offices.

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