The paper discusses the main governance patterns present in urban and social policies in contemporary São Paulo. In a first moment, the article discusses the various policy heritages produced at different government levels, considering the importance of federalism in contemporary Brazil. A second session presents the most important elements of the structure of the metropolis. In a third moment I analyze the configuration of actors and institutional settings within which governance occurs. The fourth session presents the governance patterns. At least five governance patterns are present, respectively in social policies, large infra-structure policies, urban services/infra-structure, land use and the public security policies/crime.