The Elevators & Funiculars of
Bahia - Brazil
Text by Allen Morrison
llustrations from old postcards
The city of Salvador was the capital of Brazil for 214 years
and is the capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia today.
Because of its rugged terrain, numerous contraptions
were constructed over the years to transport residents
between the industrial districts along the bay and
the commercial and residential areas on the hill [see
In the 16th century the Portuguese erected a giant
'guindaste' (crane) on the site of today's Plano Gonçalves.
In the 19th century Salvadorans built one of South America's
first street railways, its first cable-drawn railway,
its first giant public elevator, and its first inclined plane.
This is a survey of some of these devices.

The original structure of the Lacerda Elevator, below left,
was inaugurated in 1873 and served as model for the
Santa Justa Elevator in Lisboa, which opened in 1902.
The Lacerda Elevator was electrified in 1907
and enlarged and rebuilt in 1930: below right.
Its "bridge" is 72 m / 236 ft above the street.

The postcard below shows the elevator's top station, bridge and tower
overlooking Todos os Santos Bay in 1932.
The Elevador Lacerda is still in use today.
For a more recent view, click here.

The Elevador Taboão, a similar but smaller structure nearby,
opened in 1895 and closed in 1961 [see map].
Parts of the apparatus have survived.

The Plano Inclinado Gonçalves, below,
opened in 1889 on the spot where the Portuguese
had erected the Guindaste dos Padres in the 16th century.
The French postcard on the left shows the original 1889 structure. The view on the right shows the line after electrification in 1909. Note that the bottom station was rebuilt.

The Gonçalves inclined plane was remodeled again in 1931
with new platform-type cars from Brill in Philadelphia,
below left, which used trolley poles and overhead wire.
The 1975 view on the right shows yet another type car.

The Plano Gonçalves still carries passengers today.




The Plano Pilar, a short distance to the north [see map], has a grade of either 78 or 83.5%. It opened in 1897 and was electrified in 1915 with the new Brill cars shown on the left. The illustration on the right shows a ticket. The Plano Pilar closed in April 1984, but was rebuilt and reopened on 29 March 2006. The photgraph below, taken by Raimundo Nonato in April 2006, shows one of the new cars on the line:




  In 1981 a new inclined plane railway was constructed between the Calçada district on the harbor and the hilltop suburb of Liberdade [see map]. It still carries passengers today.




If you have more illustrations or information
about the elevators and funiculars of Salvador
please contact the author! Leio e escrevo português. Also see the Funiculars of Salvador page from Ferrolatino, my page about the rebuilt Pilar Inclined Plane, my website about The Tramways of Salvador, and my general inventory of
Electric Transport in Latin America


This page was created
by Allen Morrison
on 4 July 1999.
Additional information was provided
by Raimundo Nonato
in November 2003
and further adjustments were
made in May 2006.

Copyright © 1999-2099 Allen Morrison