27 October 2012
Last updated at 01:24
Exactly 100 years ago in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s "Bondinho" or cable car started taking people up Sugar Loaf mountain at the entrance to the city’s Guanabara Bay
The cable car was dreamed up in 1908 by a man who wanted to boost tourism in Rio, and is today one of the city’s most popular attractions after the Christ the Redeemer statue, with 1.3m visitors in 2011.
The first cable car was made out of wood and held 22 people. When it was built, there were only two others of its kind in the world - in Spain and Switzerland. The worker standing on it was responsible for cable maintenance.
The construction was challenging: Climbers were used to take up the equipment and Bondinho mastermind Augusto Ferreira Ramos was mocked by fellow engineers, who suggested the cable car should lead straight to the national asylum.
The wooden cable car was replaced in 1972 by the model that inspires the current cars, which use glass panels Even before that, it received famous visitors such as John F Kennedy and Albert Einstein.
In 1977, American ropewalker Steven McPeak walked over the cables holding a metal rod as a counter, crossing the gap between Urca Hill (220m/721ft high) and the Sugar Loaf (396m/1299ft).
But perhaps the cable car’s most notorious moment was starring in a James Bond movie. The storyboard depicts the fight between 007 Roger Moore and his foe Jaws, staged in – or rather on top of – the cable car, for a scene in Moonraker (1979).
Today, both the number of visitors and queuing time to go up are on the rise. The firm that runs the cable car is planning on making upgrades to cope with the demands, but the changes will only be completed in time for the Olympics in 2016 - not the World Cup in 2014.
The view offered from the top of Urca Hill attracts mostly tourists during the day, but at night it is the cariocas, as Rio’s residents are called, who go up, attracted by the concerts and parties staged during the summer. * All pictures courtesy of the archives of Companhia Caminho Aereo Pao de Acucar