Wilson, Chris. The
Myth of Santa Fe: Creating a Modern Regional Tradition. Albuquerque : University
of New Mexico Press, 1997.
Wilson argues that
Santa Fe is a prime “example of the invention of tradition and the on-going
interaction of ethnic identity with tourist image making” . Following
a brief pre-colonial and Spanish colonial history of the New Mexico area, Wilson
describes the emerging town of Santa Fe, including its racial-ethnic consciousness.
He traces how New Mexico’s desire for statehood (from 1848 until ratification
in 1912) resulted in the emergence of two contradictory public images of Santa
Fe: the progressive, typical American city of thriving business and a romanticized,
ancient adobe village – a mecca for tourists. In fact, “once statehood
was achieved...the romantic image of the city became the central vehicle for
economic resurgence and the blueprint for its physical transformation” .
This romantic image was promoted by the museum world (e.g. the Museum of New
Mexico), the artistic profession, as well as political entities. He then
describes the historic preservation movement in Santa Fe, as a movement intent
upon removing all signs of Americanization and restoring many buildings, such
as the Acoma Mission. Wilson concludes with a discussion of the effects
of the movement, the establishment of a design-review ordinance and the mandates
of architectural regionalism. Intermixed, too, Wilson includes several
poignant and photographic essays, depicting modern-day challenges to the romanticized
Santa Fe through architecture, art, and the coyote. [J. Hembree]