Everyone from Pablo Neruda to bohemian backpackers have fallen in love with Valparaíso’s rough and tumble charms. Valparaíso is a port town dripping in maritime history and culture. The port played a major role in the 19th century, when ships traveling up the Pacific Coast to California during the Gold Rush would stop on their way from the Atlantic. Valparaiso fell into decline after the construction of the Panama Canal, and has suffered high levels of poverty since. However, what remains is a spectacular labyrinth of cobble stoned alleyways climbing over a series of steep hills and canyons. Artists, poets and writers have lived in Valparaíso for a long time, adding to the sense of creativity which seems to be found around every corner.
As dusk falls, Valparaíso’s downtown transforms into a dilapidated urban feast for the eyes.
A group of semi inebriated friends stop for their portrait. Playing up to its role as a port city, Valparaíso has a reputation for wild parties and rowdy bars.
Valparaiso’s architecture is world renown for it’s brightly colored wood houses that cling precariously to hillsides.
The art filled Paseo Bavestrello.
Valparaíso’s funicular elevators attest to a time of greatness in this cities history. The city once had 30 of them, today only around five are in operation. These elevators, some which function more like a cable car, help local residents summit the top of the cities many steep hills.
An ascensor operator waiting for passengers.
Ascensor El Peral, one of the last remaining funicular elevators left in the city.
The narrow streets of the more upscale Cerro Concepcion area. Most residents distinguish their neighborhood by which hill they live on.
This building is home to the El Mercurio newspaper. The newspaper was started in 1827 in Valparaíso, and is the oldest Spanish language newspaper still in circulation today.
Residents playing a game of Truco.
During the 19th Century, Valparaíso was a hub for many English and German immigrants. On Cerro Concepción, one of the cities more colorful and artistic areas, is the German Lutheran Church.
Photographing of the chaotic streets of El Plano, taken by Alfredo Rivera
Over a hundred years old, Bar La Playa transports any visitor to a different time in Valparaíso’s history. One of the most character filled bars I’ve ever seen. One hopes that bar’s like this can be preserved.
La Playa also serves up Paila marina, a traditional Chilean seafood soup served in a earthenware bowl with claim, mussels, eel, shrimp, paprika, parsley and lime.
Valparaíso is unlike any city I’ve ever seen in the world. Some say the closest comparison would be San Francisco. Whatever you way you want to look at it, Valparaíso is certainly lives up to it’s name, La Joya del Pacífico, the Jewel of the Pacific.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Walker then majored in International Relations and Chinese at the New School University in NYC. He began traveling during a high school exchange to Argentina, and hasn’t stopped since. Walker has always sought out the more unusual and off the beaten path locations and is combining his love for photography and travel to kickstart a career as a journalist, striving to redefine the profession in rapidly changing world.
São Paulo was incredible city to photograph. For six weeks straight I found myself waking up, grabbing my camera, and hitting the streets of this fascinating, monster of a city. In this series of photographs I attempt to capture the beautiful, grittiness of São Paulo.
Avenida Paulista is the beating heart of São Paulo. As the sun sets and rush hour begins, artists line the street to sell their work, while musicians of all ages play for the teeming masses of businessmen. In one minute I witnessed a band play Creedence Clearwater while a separate group of Anarchists and Feminists blocked traffic while marching down the middle of the avenue.
Vila Madalena is a trendy, residential neighborhood located southwest of Avenida Paulista. While there aren’t many specific sights to see, its the best place in all of São Paulo to eat and drink.
Sunday street market in Pinheiros.
Centro is the historic heart of the city. Most Paulistas dismiss the the neighborhood as dirty and crime ridden, but if you are able to see beyond its decay, it is a fascinating area full of pedestrianized streets, 400 year old churches, steep hills with narrow, bustling streets, open-air markets, neoclassical and art deco architecture, and enough energy to impress even a hardened New Yorker.
One of the most interesting aspects of Centro is its alternative edge. Most downtowns in North America are strictly about business, yet here in São Paulo, there are numerous alternative art galleries, and underground bars where skateboarders, weed smokers and anarchists rub shoulders with businessmen getting off of work.
Different eras of architecture blending seamlessly along the pedestrianized streets of Centro.
São Paulo’s artistic side emerges in unexpected places.
Rush hour at Estação da Luz, one of the busiest subway stations in Latin America.
Multileveled subway station at Estação Sé.
The area around 25 de Março is considered the largest commercial center in all of Latin America, and is one of the best places in the city to see São Paulo’s diversity.
Around 25 de Março, Chinese and Korean merchants sell electronic goods to Bolivians and Paraguayans, while Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese folks sell clothes and produce to every other race under the sun. São Paulo has one of the largest populations of Muslims in Latin America, with many migrants coming from the Middle East since the Arab Spring.
Winter light during rush hour next to Catedral da Sé. — at Catedral Metropolitana da Sé.
Sea of buildings in Centro.
Korean shop owners in Bom Retiro, one of São Paulo’s most diverse neighborhoods.
Centro also has a dark side, as seen in Cracolândia, an area where crack is openly bought, sold and consumed. City officials, including the current mayor Fernando Haddad, have made progress in improving parts of the area with drug rehabilitation centers, but problems still remain.
Police officers ordering passengers off a city bus while searching for a criminal. While crime does exist in São Paulo, it does not feel worse than San Francisco, New York or any major American city.
Under the Elevado (the elevated freeway) in Santa Cecília.
São Paulo is a city of immigrants and that diversity can best be seen in Liberdade, a densely packed neighborhood of Japanese restaurants, Chinese markets, and narrow, hilly streets that light up beautifully at night. Brazil has the largest concentration of Japanese people outside of Japan, and the majority live in this neighborhood.
Aska, a cozy, Japanese ramen joint, that has super cheap prices (extremely unusual in this city), delicious food, as well as a long wait.
Barra Funda is an up and coming industrialized area northwest of downtown, characterized by art galleries and music venues of all types. This display was at Galeria Fortes Vilaça, which recently hosted an exhibition on the world famous São Paulo graffiti duo, Os Gemeos.
Sunrise from an apartment building in Vila Nova Conceição.