São Paulo has a history of actions, projects and plans related to urban planning that can be traced to the governments of Antonio da Silva Prado, Baron Duprat, Washington and Luis Francisco Prestes Maia. However, in general, the city was formed during the 20th century, growing from village to metropolis through a series of informal processes and irregular urban sprawl.
Thus, São Paulo differs considerably from other Brazilian cities such as Belo Horizonte and Goiânia, whose initial expansion followed determinations by a plan, or a city like Brasília, whose master plan had been fully developed prior to construction.
The effectiveness of these plans has been seen by some planners and historians as questionable. Some of these scholars argue that such plans were produced exclusively for the benefit of the wealthier strata of the population while the working classes would be relegated to the traditional informal processes.
In São Paulo until the mid-1950s, the plans were based on the idea of "demolish and rebuild", including former Mayor Prestes Maia São Paulo's road plan (known as the Avenues Plan) or Saturnino de Brito's plan for the Tietê River.
In 1968 the Urban Development Plan proposed the Basic Plan for Integrated Development of São Paulo, under the administration of Figueiredo Ferraz. The main result was zoning laws. It lasted until 2004 when the Basic Plan was replaced by the current Master Plan.
That zoning, adopted in 1972, designated "Z1" areas (residential areas designed for elites) and "Z3" (a "mixed zone" lacking clear definitions about their characteristics). Zoning encouraged the growth of suburbs with minimal control and major speculation.Panorama of São Paulo at night.