Pueblo Deco

On May 13, 2014 · 0 Comments

I learned about an uncommon, unusual design style known as Pueblo Deco as I researched Pre-Nazi Swastika Architectural Details. Native American tribes of the US Southwest such as the Navajo used a symbol that would be mistaken by the general public today as a swastika. That element carried forward to some of the derivative Pueblo Deco buildings constructed prior to the Second World War, which is how I came across the style.

Pueblo Deco arrived at the intersection of two other architectural movements popular during the early part of the 20th Century through the 1930’s, Art Deco and Pueblo Revival. 12MC isn’t an architecture site and I don’t have any training in the field so I won’t even begin to describe the styles. I’ll let the images explain themselves: Art Deco was an unmistakable you know it when you see it design and Pueblo Revival was rather self-explanatory too. Imagine a mash-up of the two. Their spawn became Pueblo Deco.

KiMo Theatre, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Kimo Theater
Kimo Theater by Mike Tungate, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license

Albuquerque’s KiMo Theatre may best exemplify Pueblo Deco, or at least serve as its most recognizable landmark (map). This was the property I featured in my earlier article that sparked my initial curiosity.

The City of Albuquerque purchased the KiMo Theater in 1977, saving it from probable destruction after years of neglect. It began as the vision an immigrant entrepreneur, Oreste Bachechi, and opened in 1927 during the golden era of elegant movie palaces. As the city’s Kimo Theater History explained, Bachechi wanted a building "that would stand out among the Greek temples and Chinese pavilions of contemporary movie mania." His architect Carl Boller "traveled throughout New Mexico, visiting the pueblos of Acoma and Isleta, and the Navajo Nation" in search of inspiration. Even the name KiMo derived from the pueblos; it reflected a Tiwa word for mountain lion.

Albuquerque seemed to be the epicenter of Pueblo Deco. The Art Deco Society of New Mexico even published a Pueblo Deco Tour of the city.

Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, Arizona

IMG_2994 by Daniel Langer, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

Pueblo Deco spread within neighboring Arizona too. The state’s preeminent example may be the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, now a Waldorf Astoria resort, billed as "The Jewel of the Desert since 1929" (map).

Sometimes it’s mistaken for a Frank Lloyd Wright design. While Wright consulted on the project for several months, the actual architect was one of his former students, Albert Chase McArthur. As the hotel’s history page noted, "Perhaps the most obvious and dramatic design link to Wright is the use of indigenous materials that led to the creation of the ‘Biltmore Block.’ The pre-cast concrete blocks were molded on-site and used in the total construction of the resort."

The Arizona Biltmore anchored a high-end commercial and residential neighborhood that developed around it, the Biltmore District. Famous celebrities and politicians relaxed in the desert over the years. For example "Irving Berlin penned many tunes, including ‘White Christmas’ while sitting poolside at the Arizona Biltmore." The hotel last scored a minor historical footnote as the site where John McCain conceded defeat after his failed 2008 presidential campaign.

(former) Casa Grande Train Station, Casa Grande, Arizona

Casa Grande, AZ train station (destroyed by fire 6/09)
Casa Grande, AZ train station (destroyed by fire 6/09) by Ron Reiring, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license

Pueblo Deco buildings didn’t need to be grandiose and monumental to fit the general style. The Southern Pacific Railroad constructed a station in Casa Grande, Arizona in 1940 that presented a much more utilitarian form. It was rather simple although it clearly displayed elements of the fusion. Unfortunately despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building fell into neglect, remained empty for many years, caught fire in 2009 and could not be saved. Photographs of the fire were included on the Casa Grande Firefighters site.

The station used to stand at 201 W Main Street, now a vacant lot. Such a pity. The location still appears on OpenStreetMap for now (map).

Cliff Dwellers’ Apartments, New York City, New York

Cliff Dwellers’ Apartments, New York, NY

While primarily a regional style generally confined to the desert southwest, Pueblo Deco sometimes appeared outside of its natural range. The Cliff Dwellers’ (Cliff Dwelling) Apartments on Riverside Drive between West 96th and 97th Streets in New York City employed a number of similar design characteristics. The New York Times featured this structure in 2002, describing it as "A Terra Cotta Masterpiece."

On the exterior, [Herman Lee] Meader again used terra cotta inventively. His designs of double-headed snakes, the skulls of cows, mountain lions, scowling masklike faces, spears and various American Indian details were worked into ornament. In 1916, The New York Herald praised the Cliff Dwelling’s appearance on a lot that had been considered "only fit for a billboard" and hailed its "made-in-America feeling." The Herald said its name opened up a new horizon for developers who had "exhausted the supply of names and styles from every famous palace, chateau and castle in Europe."

It was an interesting solution to fit a narrow, oddly-shaped lot. All apartments faced towards the Riverside Drive side of the building. CityRealty called it "…New York City’s architectural ode to the Wild West, this narrow and angled building is one of the city’s most eccentric." and noted that the American Institute of Architects had earlier said, it "symbolizes the life of the Arizona cliff dwellers and serves to tie these prehistoric people to Manhattan’s modern cliff dwellers."

It All Gets Confusing

I found plenty of other buildings that had been described as Pueblo Deco, or not. Once again my lack of architectural background made it impossible for me to parse. Was the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe a Pueblo Deco structure, or Pueblo Revival? Was Fort Worth’s Texas & Pacific Railroad Passenger Station Pueblo Deco or Zigzag Moderne Deco? I dunno. Sources differed and I didn’t have the knowledge to make an intelligent judgment. I still enjoyed looking at them.

I didn’t even know Zigzag Moderne was a thing. Maybe I should stick to geography.

Interstate Highway Time Zone Crossings

On April 6, 2014 · 7 Comments

I’ve been noticing search engine queries lately seeking additional information about points along US Interstate Highways where travelers cross from one time zone into another. I’m going to do that myself soon on my upcoming trip and I couldn’t find a comprehensive resource either. Maybe there’s one out there hidden away in a lonely corner of the Intertubes. Maybe not. I didn’t see it so I decided to create my own. Hopefully others will find this compact reference useful too.

Yes, I understand that mobile phones and other networked devices grab time changes automatically without human intervention from nearby cell towers as one drives merrily down the highway. However some of us like to be hyper-prepared before embarking on a journey. I even recorded the lat/long coordinates so travelers (OK, maybe just me…) could drop the waypoints into their GPS receivers and know exactly where the time changes would happen well in advance.

View Interstate Highway Time Zone Changes in a larger map

Readers will want to open this map in another tab or window. It’s not very useful in its present scaled down version that is included for illustrative purposes. Others may prefer the even more detailed Google spreadsheet with links that I prepared. The spreadsheet layout mimicked the geographic footprint of the United States in rough terms, for example I positioned Idaho at the top-left (northwest) and Florida at the bottom-right (southeast). That was also the reason why Interstate numbers on the spreadsheet and the lists below were ordered from large to small (I-94 to I-8). I didn’t reverse the order just to be obstinate. Even-numbered Interstates run roughly west to east across the nation with the 2-digit numbering increasing from south to north. There were also a handful of odd-numbered highways that crossed time zone boundaries too and muddied the construct a bit. Again, the rules applied in general terms only.

This exercise was a lot more tedious than I imagined. Believe me, I’d use much more colorful language if this wasn’t a family-friendly website. I’d assumed quite foolishly that the preponderance of time changes would happen at state borders, and simplify my task. Some do, although many more switch at random county borders which were much more difficult to pinpoint on a map. That’s why I think people have trouble tracking time zones as they drive. Now they have a tool — this page.

Here’s what I found. I’m sure errors or omissions crept into this because it was such a pain to compile. Please let me know and I’ll make corrections.

Change Between Pacific Time and Mountain Time

  • Interstate 90: Idaho <--> Montana
  • Interstate 84: Baker Co., OR <--> Malheur Co., OR
  • Interstate 80: Unincorporated Elko Co., NV <--> West Wendover, Elko Co., NV(1)
  • Interstate 40: California <--> Arizona (Standard Time); Eastern Arizona <--> SE corner of Navajo Reservation in AZ (Daylight Saving Time)(2)(3)
  • Interstate 15: Nevada <--> Arizona (Standard Time); Arizona <--> Utah (Daylight Saving Time)(2)
  • Interstate 10: California <--> Arizona (Standard Time); Arizona <--> New Mexico (Daylight Saving Time)(2)
  • Interstate 08: California <--> Arizona (Standard Time); no change during DST(2)(4)

Change Between Mountain Time and Central Time

  • Interstate 94: Stark Co., ND <--> Morton Co., ND
  • Interstate 90: Jackson Co., SD <--> Jones Co., SD
  • Interstate 80: Keith Co., NE <--> Lincoln Co., NE
  • Interstate 70: Sherman Co., KS <--> Thomas Co., KS(5)
  • Interstate 40: New Mexico <--> Texas
  • Interstate 10: Hudspeth Co., TX <--> Culberson Co., TX

Change Between Central Time and Eastern Time

  • Interstate 94: Indiana <--> Michigan
  • Interstate 90: LaPorte Co., IN <--> St. Joseph Co., IN(6)
  • Interstate 85: Alabama <--> Georgia(7)
  • Interstate 80: LaPorte Co., IN <--> St. Joseph Co., IN(6)
  • Interstate 74: Illinois <--> Indiana
  • Interstate 70: Illinois <--> Indiana
  • Interstate 65: Jasper Co., IN <--> White Co., IN /AND/ Hart Co., KY <--> Larue Co., KY(8)
  • Interstate 64: Perry Co., IN <--> Crawford Co., IN
  • Interstate 59: Alabama <--> Georgia
  • Interstate 40: Cumberland Co., TN <--> Roane Co., TN
  • Interstate 24: Marion Co., TN <--> Hamilton Co., TN
  • Interstate 20: Alabama <--> Georgia
  • Interstate 10: Jackson Co., FL <--> Gadsden Co., FL

Bonus Roads(9)

  • Western Kentucky Parkway: Grayson Co., KY <--> Hardin Co., KY(10)
  • Cumberland Parkway: Russel Co., KY <--> Pulaski Co., KY(11)


(1) West Wendover is the only part of Nevada that officially observes Mountain Time, primarily so gamblers from Salt Lake City — the nearest large town — won’t have to deal with a time change and can focus on losing their money without distraction. This was described in (West) Wendover: What Time? What State?
(2) Arizona does not recognize Daylight Saving Time, meaning that for practical purposes the spot where the time zone change takes place shifts in the Spring and the Fall. This can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations.
(3) The exception to the "Arizona doesn’t recognize DST rule" is the portion of the sprawling Navajo Nation that crosses into Arizona. The Navajo did this to assert their sovereignty as well as to keep their tri-state Nation on the same time all year.
(4) Interstate 8 extends from San Diego, California to south-central Arizona; fairly short by interstate standards. Therefore it does not experience a time change when the two states observe the same time (i.e, when the Pacific Time Zone switches to DST and Arizona remains on Mountain Standard Time)
(5) I crossed this one during my Dust Bowl trip. See Kansas Mountain Time.
(6) You’re not seeing things. Interstates 80 and 90 are repeated with the same information here. That’s because they’re co-signed at this spot.
(7) Interstate 85 is the best example of an odd-numbered Interstate messing up my chart. The time change happens at a very southern segment of this very eastern highway.
(8) Interstate 65 starts in Central Time in an Indiana suburb of Chicago, switches to Eastern Time as it heads south, then switches back into Central Time in Kentucky
(9) I included Kentucky parkways because they’re significant roads albeit they’re not Interstate highways (not even Secret Interstates). I probably could have added other roads too.
(10) I will be crossing here on an upcoming trip. This was the spot that inspired me to go ahead and compile the list.
(11) I crossed here in the summer of 2013 during my Kentucky Adventures.

Largest Artificial Lakes

On July 16, 2013 · 2 Comments

I had some fun with artificially created geographic features lately, first with the largest artificial islands and then with islands joined artificially to the mainland. Now, I thought, I’d flip the concept to its opposite extreme. Instead of land on water, how about water on land? What might be the largest area of terrain intentionally flooded to make an artificial lake or reservoir?

My continuously growing bag of possible topics might come in handy, I though. This was my big spreadsheet that I use to tally new bits of geo-trivia as I come across them, most of which will never see the light of day on Twelve Mile Circle. Yes, I did seem to recall something. Ah, here it was: according to the CIA’s World Factbook, "Lake Volta is the world’s largest artificial lake by surface area (8,482 sq km; 3,275 sq mi)."

That introduced a quandary. Did "largest" mean a measurement of area or volume? Would it mean the list might change with fluctuations in rainfall or during times of drought? Those were not issues with islands. Islands weren’t measured by volume. Their surface area might changed slightly due to tides or erosion although probably not significantly assuming proper maintenance. Reservoirs, however, could change drastically by size or volume repeatedly during their lifetimes. Suddenly, something so simple in my mind became much more complex as it unraveled.

I did learn a couple of new terms in the process, though. "Conservation Pool" is an optimal level that meets the needs for which the reservoir was created. "Flood Pool" is the absolute maximum a reservoir can hold. The two values often differed drastically. Most of the calculations used in rankings, as far as I could tell, seemed to rely on the flood pool rather than the conservation pool as a means to preserve consistent measurements. That’s what I tried to use too.

It still didn’t answer which "largest" I should use so I decided to examine both: size as defined by square kilometres and volume as defined by cubic kilometres. Ponder that for a moment, a cubic kilometre of water!

Lake Volta

LAKE VOLTA. by Fraser Morrison, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license

Lake Volta in Ghana had the largest area that I could find, the 8,482 km² mentioned previously (other sources listed it slightly differently, an issue I found with all bodies of water examined). That made it larger than the land area of the U.S. states of Rhode Island (2,706 km²) and Delaware (5,060 km²) combined, or more than fifty times the size of the District of Columbia. That’s a seriously large man-made lake.

View Larger Map

The damming of the White and Black Volta Rivers in 1965 caused the displacement of literally tens of thousands of people. On a more positive side, Volta’s Akosombo Dam generated electricity for most of Ghana and created a thriving fishing industry.

Lake Kariba

HX9V_DSC03096_Farewell Lake Kariba
HX9V_DSC03096_Farewell Lake Kariba by Allan_Grey, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license

As I think about it, volume would probably be a more important indicator of size than area. A reservoir exists to store fresh water, and the more it can store for the needs of a surrounding population, the better. The largest volume of any artificial lake is Lake Kariba which straddles the Zambia and Zimbabwe border, with a storage capacity of 181 km³.

Lake Kariba

That’s an almost unimaginably large number as I considered it some more. Sure, it pales in comparison to an ocean, however, this particular body of water was created by people.

The lake filled what was known previously as the Kariba Gorge when the Zambezi River was dammed in 1958. Today its shores appear to be a great location for African safaris based on the online sources and photos I encountered as I researched it further.

Lake Sakakawea

Shoreline of Lake Sakakawea at Fort Stevenson State Park, North Dakota
Shoreline of Lake Sakakawea at Fort Stevenson State Park, North Dakota by loyaldefender2004, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license

I then turned my attention to the United States to see how it compared — not very favorably as it turns out versus the monster-sized international contenders.

North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea on the Missouri River took the prize for largest area in the US.

Lake Sakakawea

Its 1,546 square kilometres seemed impressive until placed against Lake Volta’s 8,482 km².

On a completely irrelevant tangent, Wikipedia included an essentially meaningless statement which fascinated me anyway because I’m drawn to odd claims:

The creation of the lake displaced members of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation from the villages of Van Hook and (Old) Sanish… one name that had been proposed [for a new town of displaced residents] was Vanish (a portmanteau of the two previous towns’ names).

I so desperately wanted to confirm that claim — everyone knows how much I love a good portmanteau — however Wikipedia offered the statement without attribution. I found one possible source although it offered little evidence that Vanish was anything other than a tongue-in-cheek proposal. I guess it would have been too good to believe that Van Hook and Sanish would vanish to (nearly) form Vanish.

The media wittily called the new town Vanish, a play on Sanish’s name and its unavoidable fate, but there’s no “Vanish, ND” on the maps today. When you lay the map… over nearby towns to figure out which one this is, you realize that the government was far less witty than the newspapers. The powers-that-be named the new town… New Town.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead
Lake Mead by Kath B, on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license

Lake Mead is the US’s volume leader at 35.7 km³ which would hardly make a dent in Lake Kariba’s 181 km³ even though it’s still a massive amount of water.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead formed behind the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada. The lake also served as a good example of difference between capacity measurements, conservation pool vs. flood pool. It’s depth has fluctuated wildly during protracted drought cycles and has flirted with critical shortage levels in recent years.

I thought about including examples from other nations represented by 12MC readers. The area/volume dichotomy doubled my writing requirements and I began to lose interest.

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