A history in postcards of Mexican tourist towns in the first half of the twentieth century, with nearly two hundred illustrations.
Between 1900 and the late 1950s, Mexican border towns came of age both as tourist destinations—in some cases by luring Americans who wanted to escape Prohibition—and as emerging cities. Commercial photographers produced thousands of images of their streets, plazas, historic architecture, and tourist attractions, which were reproduced as photo postcards.
Daniel Arreola has amassed one of the largest collections of these border town postcards, and in this book he uses this amazing visual archive to offer a new way of understanding how the border towns grew and transformed themselves in the first half of the twentieth century, as well as how they were pictured to attract American tourists.
Postcards from the Río Bravo Border presents nearly two hundred images of five towns on the lower Río Bravo: Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Piedras Negras, and Villa Acuña. Using multiple images of sites within each city, Arreola tracks changes both within the cities as places and in the ways in which they’ve been pictured for tourist consumption. He also shows how postcard images, when systematically and chronologically arranged, can tell us a great deal about how Mexican border towns have been viewed over time. This innovative visual approach demonstrates that historical imagery, no less than text or maps, can be assembled to tell a fascinating geographical story.
“This is masterful cultural geography with rich visual materials, delivered in a unique and compelling fashion.” —Journal of Latin American Geography