The Polytechnic School, occupying an interesting old building on the Largo de Sao Francisco de Paula, is chiefly devoted to civil engineering.
This section during the past century has extended southward along the bay shore in a string of suburbs known as the Cattete and Botafogo, with that of Larangeiras behind the Cattete in a pretty valley of the same name, and thence on or near the Atlantic coast as Largo dos Leoes, Copacabana and Gavea, the last including the Botanical Garden.
The public parks and gardens are numerous and include the Botanical Garden with its famous avenue of royal palms (Oreodoxa regia); the Passeio Publico (dating from 1783), a small garden on the water-front facing the harbour entrance; the Jardim d'Acclamacao, forming part of the Praca da Republica (once known as the Campo de Sant' Anna) with its artistic walks and masses of shrubbery; the Praca Tiradentes (the old Largo do Rocio, afterwards rechristened Praca da Constituicao) with its magnificent equestrian statue of Dom Pedro I.
The British residents have an unpretentious chapel in Rua Evaristo da Veiga, the Methodists a more modern structure on the Largo do Cattete and the Presbyterians a chapel near Praga Tiradentes.
Another church of the same name faces on the Largo do Machado and shows the peculiar combination of a Greek temple surmounted by a modern spire.
In the work of improving the city, the national government assumed the expense of the commercial quays, the filling of the Sao Christovao bay, the opening of the Mangue canal and its embellishment, the opening of the Avenida Central, the extension of the sewage system and the addition of new sources to the water supply, while the city was responsible for the Avenida Beira-Mar, the opening of a new avenue from the Largo da Lapa westward to Rua Frei Caneca, the removal of the Morro do Senado, the widening of some streets crossing the Avenida Central and the opening and straightening of other streets.
The foundations were once laid for a great cathedral on the Largo de Sao Francisco de Paula, but the building stone was taken for a neighbouring theatre, and the foundations were afterwards used for the Polytechnic School.