pbromaghin,
Thanks for the links to a real place! The only problem I have with your excellent logic is the fact that all of the images I've been able to find of Recife make the city appear to be on much flatter land than is shown in the old images. Having never been on the continent, let alone in the city, I am completely ignorant, however. Is Recife backed by substantial hills? Are these pictures perhaps of more than one city... a steamer voyage along the coast? There are other images that show the same buildings that are in the back of the parade shot, and the building that pgomena called an opera house is high on the right in one of the others, but that city is definitely very steeply situated on a hill. There are also some that have no relation to that place.