‘El mejor anuncio de la historia’, or ‘the best ad in history’ is a picture taken in February 2008, which neatly encapsulates several aspects of the city’s urban landscape: the formal, the informal and the promotional.
At the time it was taken, 54% of Caraqueños (as the inhabitants of Caracas are called) lived in ranchos such as those featured in the top half of the image. Ranchos are the forms of informal housing that cover the hills surrounding the city. Clusters of self-built ranchos form larger neighbourhoods referred to as barrios – similar to the Brazilian favelas.
Meanwhile, in the lower half of the picture, beneath the ranchos, lie the more formal infrastructural elements of the city. Both the highway and the tunnel were completed in the 1950s, a decade which saw Venezuela’s most significant modern transformations, most notably in mass housing and infrastructure.
Besides the sharp contrast between the formal and the informal in Caracas, propaganda and advertising are another crucial element in the city’s landscape. Large political or commercial posters are mostly added to the city’s tall buildings which dot Caracas’ verdant valley. […]