Young men ride horses on a dusty main road through town. Cars and gas stations gradually intrude on the land, and, years later, curiosity shops and cantinas change the face of Mexican border towns south of Arizona. Between 1900 and the late 1950s, Mexican border towns came of age both as centers of commerce and as tourist destinations. Postcards from the Sonora Border reveals how images—in this case the iconic postcard—shape the way we experience and think about place.
Making use of his personal collection of historic images, Daniel D. Arreola captures the evolution of Sonoran border towns, creating a sense of visual “time travel” for the reader. Supported by maps and visual imagery, the author shares the geographical and historical story of five unique border towns—Agua Prieta, Naco, Nogales, Sonoyta, and San Luis Río Colorado.
Postcards from the Sonora Border introduces us to these important towns and provides individual stories about each, using the postcards as markers. No one postcard view tells the complete story—rather, the sense of place emerges image by image as the author pulls readers through the collection as an assembled view. Arreola reveals how often the same locations and landmarks of a town were photographed as postcard images generation after generation, giving a long and dynamic view of the inhabitants through time. Arranged chronologically, Arreola’s postcards allow us to discover the changing perceptions of place in the borderlands of Sonora, Mexico.