Just a trolley ride from El Paso, Ciudad Juárez was a popular destination in the early 1900s. Enticing and exciting, tourists descended on this and other Mexican border towns to browse curio shops, dine and dance, attend bullfights, and perhaps escape Prohibition America.
In Postcards from the Chihuahua Border Daniel D. Arreola captures the exhilaration of places in time, taking us back to Mexico’s northern border towns of Cuidad Juárez, Ojinaga, and Palomas in the early twentieth century. Drawing on more than three decades of archival work, Arreola uses postcards and maps to unveil the history of these towns along west Texas’s and New Mexico’s southern borders.
Postcards offer a special kind of visual evidence. Arreola’s collection of imagery and commentary about them shows us singular places, enriching our understandings of history and the history of change in Chihuahua. No one postcard tells the entire story. But image after image offers a collected view and insight into changing perceptions. Arreola’s geography of place looks both inward and outward. We see what tourists see, while at the same time gaining insight about what postcard photographers and postcard publishers wanted to be seen and perceived about these border communities.
Postcards from the Chihuahua Border is a colorful and dynamic visual history. It invites the reader to time travel, to revisit another era—the first half of the last century—when these border towns were framed and made popular through picture postcards.