Greeks of the New World:Intersections of Neo-Prehispanic Style and Pan-Americanist Ideologies in Southern California

Gonzalez, Madeline, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Reilly, Lisa, AR-Arch History Dept, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, AR-Arch History Dept, University of Virginia
Sewell, Jessica, AR-Arch History Dept, University of Virginia

Amid the early decades of the 20th century, the United States became more global as a result of its territorial acquisitions in the Pacific and its World War I victory in Europe. This led to the rise of an ideology referred to as Pan-Americanism, which eventually became interpreted within the context of the United States as a way for the country to envelope, re-contextualize, and declare the entirety of the Western Hemisphere ‘American.’ The rise of this cultural ideology mirrored the popularity of Neo-Prehispanic Style across the country. Neo-Prehispanic Style, more familiarly referred to as Mayan Revival Style, was interpreted architecturally in the United States as a re-imagination of indigenous Latin American forms, with stylistic and architectural references to the Mayan, Aztec, Incan, Zapotec, and other pre-Columbian groups. Too often, Neo-Prehispanic style is categorized simplistically as part of the general revival movement of the early 20th century or under the “Zig-Zag Moderne” classification of Art Deco. While there has been some attention paid to the style in academic writing, these resources fail to critically look at Neo-Prehispanic style, rarely question its presence within the landscape, and do not attempt to understand why it became so prevalent in Southern California. This thesis provides a more critical look at the style in the context of a Pan-American cultural landscape, a step away from previous publications that only sought to survey and document the style’s presence. The research presented within this thesis helps in expanding the definition and interpretation of Neo-Prehispanic style, and creates a path for it to be studied not as a small part of larger architectural movements, but rather as a unique expression of United States culture in Southern California during the early decades of the 20th century.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Pan-Americanism, Neo-Prehispanic Style, Mayan Revival, Zig-Zag Moderne, Pan-American Union Building, Aztec Hotel, Robert Stacy-Judd, Bullocks Wilshire, Wilshire Boulevard, Eastern-Columbia Building
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