Author William L. Bird at Tucson Modernism Week

Date: Saturday, November 11, 2023

Time: 10  – 11 a.m.

Where: Rincon Congregational Church, 122 N Craycroft Rd, Tucson, AZ

Tickets: $10, available at the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation website

William L. Bird, author of In the Arms of the Saguaros, interprets the rise of modernism through postcard images of Tucson, offering a fascinating journey through time as he explores the transformation of the city. In his talk, “Every Day I Walk These Streets: The Curt Teich Postcard and the Coming of Modern Tucson,” Bird embarks on a visual and historical adventure, tracing the evolution of Tucson from its early days to the vibrant, modern 20th century city.

1940s postcard of downtown Tucson

Tucson postcards, not surprisingly, also featured saguaros. Bird’s latest book, In the Arms of the Saguaros shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their images have fulfilled attention-getting needs and expectations. Through text and lavish images, this book explores the saguaro’s growth into a western icon from the early days of the American railroad to the years bracketing World War II, when Sun Belt boosterism hit its zenith and proponents of tourism succeed in moving the saguaro to the center of the promotional frame. 

William L. Bird Jr. is a curator emeritus of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. His interests lie at the intersection of politics, popular culture, and the history of visual display.  

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