Mesilla, New Mexico & The Barrio Historico of Tuscon, Arizona
Mesilla (near Las Cruces) and the Barrio Historico of Tuscon are magnets to photographers wanting to capture the historical spirit of the southwest. Both communities offer classic adobe structures, wonderful windows, doors and gates. The mix of flamboyant colors add considerable panache and flair.
Mesilla ("Little Tableland") is the best-known and most visited historical community in Southern New Mexico. Since its' beginning, around 1848, Mesilla has had a major influence on the economic, cultural, historical, and political life of the Mesilla Valley. From the Gadsden Purchase, to the Civil War, to the Butterfield Stage Coach Trail, to the trial of Billy the Kid, to being a lively social center in the 1880s--Mesilla has been a prominent part of the rich history of the Southwest.
Today, many of Mesilla's population of nearly 2,200 residents are direct descendents of Mesilla's early settlers. As such, they have retained many of the "hearty folk" qualities of the original founders. Mesilla has a rich and diverse heritage with the integration of Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American cultures. Perhaps the greatest import of the past history is the physical character of the community itself. The traditional adobe structures and architectural features modified through time because of style and technology still remain as a reminder of the long and significant history of the town.
Tuscon's Barrio Historico
The barrios were built in the early 19th century to house the growing population of Tuscon. In 1854, the city became a U.S. territory along with the rest of present-day southern Arizona under the Gadsden Purchase. While other parts of the city were Americanized, the barrios retained their own culture largely due to their distance from the railroads, which brought in the newcomers.
Barrio Historico is one of the best preserved historical districts. The nearly 20 blocks of Sonoran-style adobe row houses painted in yellows, reds, purples and other colors of the rainbow give the area the feel of a Mexican village more than a turn-of-the-century American city. The homes house artist studios, young couples and some longtime Hispanic residents, making it one of the more diverse neighborhoods in the city.