The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly

tuned our ear to mockingbird chorales and the painted bunting warble,
Harrigan provides similar nuances. He reminds us of the smaller, in-
conspicuous, remarkable denizens of special places in this big country.
He does this in an understated way, linking land and life together in
order to better understand Texas as his home.
University of Texas at Austin ROBIN W. DOUGHTY
Cowtown Moderne: Art Deco Architecture of Fort Worth, Texas. By Judith
Singer Cohen. Foreword by David Gebhard. (College Station:
Texas A&M University Press, 1988. Pp. xviii+ 2o02. Foreword, pref-
ace, introduction, illustrations, notes, glossary, bibliography, in-
dex. $29.95-)
Although Art Deco's rediscovery began twenty years ago, its fascina-
tion continues. Such classics as Manhattan's Chrysler and Empire State
skyscrapers, Raymond Loewy's Broadway Limited train, Radio City
Music Hall, and the New York World's Fair of 1939 evoke an era of ur-
bane cosmopolitanism when, despite economic depression, people re-
tained a utopian faith in technology. Continuing interest in Art Deco
stems from the fact that our society has lost both its urbanity and its
faith in high-tech solutions. In recent years historians of Art Deco ar-
chitecture have moved beyond New York and Los Angeles to chronicle
its manifestations in such places as Miami Beach, Tulsa, Washington,
D.C., New Mexico, and now, with Judith Singer Cohen's fine study,
Fort Worth.
Cowtown Moderne represents local history at its best while also adding
in crucial ways to our general knowledge of Art Deco. Cohen's title
seems part boast, part irony, but it also serves a substantive purpose.
What does it mean, it asks, that Fort Worth, the quintessential cowtown,
erected businessmen's ziggurats in terra cotta, an exuberantly named
Aviation Building, swank chrome and black-glass retail establishments,
even its own moderne exposition, almost as soon as New York or Chi-
cago had theirs? What does it mean that the Light Crust Doughboys for
years broadcast a daily program of western music from a studio in the
ultra-moderne headquarters of their sponsor? Or that Mrs. Baird's
Bread-baked at home in her own oven as late as 1919-emerged dur-
ing the 1930s from a hygienically white minimalist structure whose
mechanized processes appeared to advantage through a band of plate
glass running around two of its sides? The Fort Worth that Cohen por-
trays in this volume avidly desired to merge with the twentieth century.
Cohen's study is a model of how local architectural history should
be written. Basing her work on exhaustive library and archival re-
search, numerous interviews, and well-chosen period photographs

560

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed September 23, 2014.