It’s funny, by now Christ Redeemer is such an indelible part of the Rio landscape that I hadn’t stopped to think about what a technical feat it was to put a massive statue on top of a mountain in 1928. This article from A Revista da Semana, October 1928, seems much less concerned with spectacle (or the Lord) than with the prospect that Cristo could be blown off the top of Corcovado and crush Humaitá.
THE MONUMENT TO CHRIST REDEEMER
The highest hope of the Christian people of Rio de Janeiro will soon be realized. As soon as in a year… the monument to Christ Redeemer will tower over the city and the sea, at an altitude of over 700 meters on the peak of the Corcovado.
Paris is known for the Eiffel Tower; New York for the Statue of Liberty; Rio will be considerably more so for its Christ. The statue, which is on the verge of being assembled, was envisioned by the illustrious architect dr. Silva Costa and executed by the sculptor Paul Landowski. With a total height of around 40 meters, the monument will have the following approximate dimensions: height of the statue, 30m; height of the head, 3.75m; length of the hand, 3.2m; distance between right and left fingertips, 30m; base of the pedestal, 100 sq. m.; volume, 419 cubic m; weight, 1,145 tons; total weight, 1,680 tons.
Nothing like this monument has yet been attempted in the history of the world. And we would do well to reproduce the words of the speech given by dr. Silva Costa at the Rotary Club, in July of last year:
“The State of Liberty raises her right arm vertically, the hand of which holds a torch; the statue of Notre Dame du Puy and Saint John forms a single figure with the Christ Child; the statue of St. Carlos Borromeo holds only the forearm away from the body. The vast bulk of the body, due to its circular form, offers relatively little resistance to the wind…”
[And he goes on at length about measurements…]
“The wind blows with great force on the Corcovado, and, if we consider that its velocity could double during a cyclone, we see that this is indeed a daring construction, in its form just as much as its location – given that during the execution of the most difficult element, the arms, I have no firm ground upon which to erect the scaffolding.”