Pueblo Deco, by Carla Breeze (1990)


“The Wild West has rustled the imagination of the American public… As train tracks raced across the continent, travelers sought to experience the sublime and awesome landscape, the immense Grand Canyon, rugged mountain ranges, and mauve deserts under a cobalt sky. The intense sunlight had an elemental quality.… Travelers wanted the scent of Indian fry bread wafting on desert air without risk of dying from thirst. They wanted to tramp about seemingly transient towns built of mud without fear of rattlesnakes. And often these same travelers simply wanted to immerse themselves in the ambience of the area without even leaving the train station.

So begins Carla Breeze’s “Pueblo Deco” (1990), in which the author coined the term for this style of architecture that we’ve come to associate with the American Southwest. Pueblo Deco is a dreamy amalgamation of Art Deco architecture and the legends of the Wild West, of Native and Latino cultures, of the hot sun baking down on an unforgiving desert.

Sometimes called “Pueblo Revival,” the style emphasizes applied ornament via extensive tilework or murals. No building was too important or too trivial; art houses, movie theatres, train stations, retail stores, senior living houses, and more were all built in this style.