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In the colonial times of Brazil, cannons defended the cities against invaders from the sea. Protected by its natural channel, São Sebastião prospered, preserving part of its colonial architecture. In 1969, experts from the Institute for Historic Preservation made a architectural survey that led to the preservation by Law of seven blocks in downtown (called the historic center) and of some other isolated estates: the Main Church, the Franciscan Cloister of Nossa Senhora do Amparo and the house on the place of the courthouse... So, part of the historic testimony of the XVII and XVIII centuries remained intact.
One can learn about the city's historical past with a monitored visit to the city's center that includes an exposé about history and land appropriations since the times of the indians, the land division into fiefdoms and the first land allotments within the present limits of the municipality, as well as an exposition about the urban occupation, architecture and construction methods. Standing out are the buildings of the local City Chamber, The Jail and the Main Church.

The city always made its living from and by the sea to transport its wealth, that was sugar and coffee. With the decline of these activities, the local population of caiçaras started to live from fishing and the selling of banana harvests using coastal canoes that came from the city of Santos and from other places in the area.

The regional transport was also done by the coastal steamers of the Companhia de Navegação Costeira and Lloyds Brasileiro companies. Maritime transport was heavily used until the thirties when the first roads were opened in the northern litoral region of the state.

The states upland or plateau was known by the indians who accessed it by trails. It is known that the mostly used were the trails of Rio Grande and Ribeirão do Itú, both located in the area of Boiçucanga. When the first, so called troopers, arrived with merchandise from other places and taking back dried fish, the trails were occupied and broadened still within the XVII century. They were transformed into the present highways, such as it is the case with the São Sebastião - Bertioga highway and the old "Dória" road known today as Rio Pardo, that linked São Sebastião to the town of Salesópolis in 1832.

The access to the northern litoral, more precisely, Caraguatatuba was already done since 1805 through a trail described decades later in the Law Project of state congressman Manuel Hipólito do Rêgo: "starting at the town of Paraibuna, it dwindles down to the corner of Caraguatatuba's Beach, and from there by means of the the so called "estrada da marinha" it went over four leagues or 22 kilometers to the old "Villa".

This project approved on December 13, 1929 by the chamber of congress was responsible for the redemption of the northern litoral. A congressman from São Sebastião achieved that a dream turned into a decree: "The public authority is herewith authorized to construct in the port of São Sebastião a docking pier for steamers as well as a road for vehicles that shall link the town of Santos to Ubatuba following the shoreline with two branches to the hinterland - one at its most convenient point in the municipality of São Sebastião or Caraguatatuba in the direction of the town of Paraibuna, and the other linking the town of Ubatuba to the city of Taubaté".

Until the beginning of the eighties the cars had to pass trough some stretches right on the beaches, such as in Santiago, Boracéia, Baleia (18 kms.) and only aat low tide . During the final term of his government, President Jõao Baptista Figueiredo wanted to finish the Rio - Santos highway at any costs, and ignoring the original and egologically conceived plan, changed its track, leaving already finished bridges and overpasses ( some more than 50 meters high and 250 meters long) standing useless right in the middle of the jungle.

The construction of the "Tebar"(Terminal Maritimo Almirante Barroso) an oil terminal, started in 1961 and endured until 1969 linking pipelines to the towns of Santos, Cubatão, Paulínea and Capuava. In 1968 the norwegian tanker BJorgfjell became the terminal's first pumping and discharge operation with crude oil from Irak.

The roads continued to be the dorsal spine for the development of Petrobrás, that improved the regions economy by providing commercial and service resources for the demands of its employees.




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