Sorocaba is a city in southern Brazil, in the southeastern portion of São Paulo State. As of 2007, its population was approximately 590,846. The title of Manchester Paulista was given to the city in the end of 19th century, due to the rapid increase of English textile industries in the city, along with the opening of one of the most important railways of São Paulo, the Estrada de Ferro Sorocabana. The metallurgy and steelmaking technologies inherited from the city's earlier days gives Sorocaba a leading role in mechanical engineering. Sorocaba's Industrial Park is one of the most important centers of engineering, manufacturing and assembling in South America.
Dom Francisco de Sousa, Governor-General of Brazil (1591 to 1602), believing in the existence of gold in the region, settled the Pelourinho - symbol of the Royal power - as the village Nova Vila de Nossa Senhora da Ponte de Mont Serrat. Gold wasn't found, and the Governor-General returned to the Royal Court. Twelve years later, Dom Francisco de Sousa changed the name of the village to Itavuvu.
Baltazar Fernandes, a member of an expeditionary group called Bandeirantes, laid the foundations of Sorocaba in the year of 1654. The chapel of Nossa Senhora da Ponte (which is now the Cathedral located in Fernando Prestes square, downtown) was built by him, along with the São Bento de Parnaíba monastery (now São Bento monastery) years later. It was also Fernandes who brought the first Benedictine monks to teach, assist the poor and the ill, and to give religious assistance to the Native Americans in the region. The monastery was donated to the Benedictines in the year 1660, after which Frei Anselmo da Anunciação and Frei Mauro were chosen to assume office. The first streets and houses started to spread around the neighborhood.
In the year of 1661, Baltazar Fernandes went to São Paulo to request that Sorocaba be named a village from the Governor-General, Correia de Sá e Benevides. So, on 3 March 1661 Sorocaba became known as Vila de Nossa Senhora da Ponte de Sorocaba. The organization of the Municipal Council followed shortly, with the main nominees being: Baltazar Fernandes and André de Zunega (judges), Cláudio Furquim and Pascoal Leite Pais (city councillors), Domingos Garcia (procurator) with Francisco Sanches (clerk).
With the arrival of colonel Cristóvão Pereira de Abreu and his troops in 1773, begins the main chapter of the history of Sorocaba: the Tropeirismo.
The transportation of goods in the back of Equidae which traversed the North-South route of the country came across Sorocaba, which was strategically placed in the main route between Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. Soon Sorocaba had its own Feira de Muares (equidae fair), where troops from all states came to feed and rest their cavalry on the way to the mineral and forest expeditions, and buy and sell goods, equidae and slaves. Given the growing number of people working in the city, the commerce and the first industries began to appear. Goods bought in Sorocaba were known from across the Country, spread by the merchant troops. The main events of Troperismo comprehended a hundred years of the Sorocaba history, from 1770 to 1870.
During the American Civil War, English textile industries ran out of cotton, which was imported from the Southern United States. Soon, producers from England started to search around the world for alternative places to cultivate cotton - one of them was the then-Province of São Paulo, which included Sorocaba. In 1862, Lieutenant-Colonel Francisco Gonçalves de Oliveira Machado built the first cotton plantation in Sorocaba. The local environment and weather were ideal, and the plantation flourished. The first harvest exceeded all expectations, starting another circle of industrial and economic development. Several textile industries from England were built in the city, changing the landscape with chimneys, saw-styled roofs, large, orange brick-built buildings and smoke. During this time, Sorocaba received the title of Manchester Paulista (Paulistan Manchester), given the resemblance with its laboring twin city.
With the opening of the Companhia Sorocabana railway on June 20, 1872 and its transport of cotton products, animals and passengers to São Paulo, Sorocaba had a major leap in development. Six locomotives and 62 bandwagons were brought from Europe, with seven stations initially planned.
Telegraphic services started in April 3 1873. Years later, the railway expanded to the borders of the State, with Estação Sorocabana being the central station.