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Designing Pan-America

Designing Pan-America
U.S. Architectural Visions for the Western Hemisphere
Foreword by Robert Rydell

Coinciding with the centennial of the Pan American Union (now the Organization of American States), González explores how nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. architects and their clients built a visionary Pan-America to promote commerce and cultural exchange between United States and Latin America.

Series: Roger Fullington Endowment in Architecture

January 2011
Active (available)
280 pages | 10 x 10 | 204 color and b&w illus., 1 map |

Late in the nineteenth century, U.S. commercial and political interests began eyeing the countries of Latin America as plantations, farms, and mines to be accessed by new shipping lines and railroads. As their desire to dominate commerce and trade in the Western Hemisphere grew, these U.S. interests promoted the concept of "Pan-Americanism" to link the United States and Latin America and called on U.S. architects to help set the stage for Pan-Americanism's development. Through international expositions, monuments, and institution building, U.S. architects translated the concept of a united Pan-American sensibility into architectural or built form. In the process, they also constructed an artificial ideological identity—a fictional Pan-America peopled with imaginary Pan-American citizens, the hemispheric loyalists who would support these projects and who were the presumed benefactors of this presumed architecture of unification.

Designing Pan-America presents the first examination of the architectural expressions of Pan-Americanism. Concentrating on U.S. architects and their clients, Robert Alexander González demonstrates how they proposed designs reflecting U.S. presumptions and projections about the relationship between the United States and Latin America. This forgotten chapter of American architecture unfolds over the course of a number of international expositions, ranging from the North, Central, and South American Exposition of 1885–1886 in New Orleans to Miami's unrealized Interama fair and San Antonio's HemisFair '68 and encompassing the Pan American Union headquarters building in Washington, D.C. and the creation of the Columbus Memorial Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic.


AAUP Book, Jacket and Journal Show:
Honors: Scholarly Illustrated

  • Foreword by Robert W. Rydell
  • Preface: Entre autopista y puente
  • Acknowledgments
  • Pan-American Architecture Chronology
  • Introduction: Entering Pan-America
    • Mapping the Sources of the Pan-American Idea
    • The Pan-American Citizen
    • Equal Representation for All Americans
  • Chapter 1. The Birth of Pan-American Architecture: Hemispheric Fairs, 1884-1901
    • Logical Pan-Americanism at Two New Orleans Expositions
    • Before the White City: Quadricentennial Visions for 1892
    • The Pan-American Exposition in an American Power City, 1895-1901
  • Chapter 2. A Rubber-Fig Tree for the Patio: America's Peace Temple, 1907-1913
    • The Competition
    • After the Competition
    • Transforming the "Latins" with Patio and Pool
    • Nuestra Pan-América
  • Chapter 3. In Search of Modern Pan-America: The Columbus Memorial Lighthouse
    • Kelsey's Perfect Competition
    • Pan-America's Heritage Is Explored in Stage One
    • Kelsey Orchestrates the Second Stage
    • Gleave's Transformative Cross
    • Building the Unwelcomed Columbus Memorial
  • Chapter 4. Gateway to the Americas: Dreaming Interama, HemisFair Living
    • Interama and the Inter-American Subject
    • HemisFair '68 and New Liaisons with Las Américas
    • The Last Hemispheric Fairs
  • Epilogue: Enter Here: The Great Pan-American Way
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Robert Alexander Gonzalez is Director of the El Paso Program and Associate Professor of Architecture on the El Paso campus of the Texas Tech University College of Architecture. A historian and registered architect, Gonzalez is the founding editor of the bilingual journal Aula: Architecture & Urbanism in Las Américas, which is devoted to the architecture, urbanism, and public art of Latin America and U.S. Latinos.


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An engraving titled General Grant on a Banana Plantation, in William Eleroy Curtis' Capitals of Spanish America (1888), brings together the many images that consumed one of Pan-America's earliest and most impassioned promoters (Fig. I.1). Reminiscent of an exploring Christopher Columbus, Ulysses S. Grant on horseback takes in a "tropical" world framed by banana leaves and barefoot natives. Using similar images throughout the book, Curtis hoped to incite in late-nineteenth-century U.S. Americans a curiosity about foreign lands, which were increasingly seen not as independent republics with national capitals but as plantations, farms, and mines to be exploited by the United States with new shipping lines and railroads. Curtis knew that these alluring glimpses of Latin America would fuel U.S. desires to dominate commerce and trade in the Western Hemisphere and invigorate the commercial transactions already taking place across the Americas. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, U.S. architects were called on to help set the stage for this burgeoning relationship. In expositions held in New Orleans, Chicago, and Buffalo between 1884 and 1901, architects gave form to spatial constructs materializing the bond between the American republics as the fate of the Western Hemisphere. Like Curtis, they deployed an amalgam of historical imagery and mythological themes to represent this newly envisioned Pan-America in physical form. They helped identify a Pan-American heritage to support the Western Hemisphere's evolution as part of a common history. The eclectic collection of world's fairs, monuments, and design proposals that architects developed, however, remain to this day unexamined as a group. A comprehensive review of these projects reveals the extent to which architectural expressions helped shape the ideological construct of an imaginary Pan-America. Along with designs meant to inspire future hemispheric enthusiasts, architects also projected the notion of a model Pan-American subject, and imagined personification of the history, cultural practices, and attitudes that Pan-American enthusiasts had deduced were "essential" characteristics of the nations of Latin America. Cities were cast as gateways to the Americas, initially with respect to a city's port and proximity to Latin America—where Pan-American enthusiasts could gain access to "the far south" and draw in its goods—and eventually in connection to a city's populace and "Latin" heritage, where actual Pan-American subjects could be found.

The tension inherent in the asymmetrical U.S.-Latin American relationship that was developing animates this architectural history. Along with the historical themes and multiple styles of architecture used to create this imaginary heritage came hierarchical designations and stereotypes. In their effort to induce loyalty, U.S. architects and their clients inadvertently, and intentionally, presented the United States as a powerful, dominant, modern leader and the Latin American nations as picturesque, exotic, and requiring guidance. This tendency reached its apex in 1910 in Paul Philippe Cret and Albert Kelsey's design of the classical Pan-American Union Building. This was the headquarters that housed the organization Curtis directed from 1890 to 1893. As subsequent "explorations" of Pan-America were embarked upon, this asymmetrical trajectory began to shift, revealing new visions of Pan-America and its model subjects. This became evident when the Pan-American Union held an architectural competition in 1928 for a Columbus Memorial Lighthouse in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Reflecting increased intercontinental travel, the beacon was to serve ships and airplanes while providing a crypt for Christopher Columbus' remains. Pan-American Airways (also called Pan-American World Airways and Pan-Am) had been established in 1927. Out of the hundreds of designs submitted to this competition, a number of modernist entries broke from the clichés that had been used to represent Pan-America. This was especially true of the European, Latin American, and Russian design submissions. The competition program encouraged an internationalist approach based on the continued development of commerce, trade, and travel within the Americas. These designs also reflected the anti-historicist aims of the Modern movement of the 1920s.

By the end of the 1930s, the Pan-American Union showcased itself with a modern "white box" pavilion at the New York World's Fair of 1939–1940. The organization also appropriated the modern-style Argentina Pavilion at the fair when it decided to establish what it called the Inter-America House in the Argentine structure to aid and welcome visiting Latin Americans at the exposition. The United States' gaze had already turned to a Modern movement that was flourishing in Latin America. Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa's Brazil Pavilion seized the architectural community's attention. The New York fair reported the largest representation of Latin American national pavilions and exhibitions seen on U.S. territory at the time, and their structures reflected this Modern style (Fig. I.2). The press made much of Brazil's "tropical pavilion," where coffee and rare birds were showcased. Yet it also noted how the pavilion presented a stark architectural contrast to the conventional views people had developed of Latin America. Brazil's tropical world was framed not by banana leaves and barefoot natives but by a sweeping ramp and a screened and fluid modernist structure on concrete pilotis.

Modern representations of Pan-America were explored again in the 1950s and 1960s in the context of two fairs: Interama in Miami and HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio. These designs represent the last major projects of this history. Although Interama was never built, a set of fully developed design proposals reveals the extent to which the midcentury modern architects who designed it vigorously explored Pan-America's form and expanded upon the notion of a model subject. The two fairs not only proposed expressions of a modern Pan-America as an innovative enterprise of cultural exchange, but the contrasting approaches taken by each set of architects also reflect how diverging responses to rapidly changing U.S. cities led to each fair's successes or failures. When a team composed of some of the nation's most famous architects designed Interama, it carefully wove regional references into modern designs. The unprecedented utopic landscape the architects created was disconnected from developments in Miami, especially changing urban conditions resulting from an immense influx of Cuban-American refugees. Conversely, local interests intent on ensuring Mexican American representation at HemisFair ’68 played a critical part in that fair's development. The fair's downtown location led its architects to respond to the city's historical fabric. Although ethnic tensions affected its history, HemisFair ’68 was the first U.S. fair in which Latinos were involved throughout its development. A reevaluation of previously defined notions of the Pan-American subject took place in Miami and San Antonio. Both sets of exposition architects had hoped to address the urban design issues of their day, even as they failed to fully locate immigrant and long-standing Latino communities in their hemispheric expressions.

As the history of Pan-American architecture comes to an end, this alternative notion of the Pan-American subject, specifically one who was locally based, emerges as one of the movement's most important legacies. Interama's international approach proved to be too disconnected from the realities of Miami. At HemisFair ’68, Pan-America was not seen through the international lenses of commerce, trade, and travel that framed the Miami episode. Instead, the motivation for the fair was to celebrate an already-achieved unity of Latins and Anglos. In retrospect, it is no coincidence that these fairs emanated from cities eventually known for their distinctive ethnic composition.

Since the late nineteenth century, architects and hemispheric enthusiasts had advanced projects to promote Pan-America's grand and elevating message of hemispheric unity, commonality, and mutual assistance. This Pan-America was tied to epic narratives of an indigenous past, to the discovery of the New World and its independence from the Old World, and to the establishment of new cities and mission sites throughout a perceived tropical, virgin land. U.S. citizens motivated by the desire to foment commerce and trade emerged as the movement's most committed supporters and shapers. They helped construct an image of Pan-America as a shining beacon of hope, as an opportunity to guide the Western Hemisphere's development along a prosperous and safe path. This led to the formation of a long list of associations, professional societies, social organizations, and educational clubs and congresses (Fig. I.3).

It may be surprising to see the number of celebrated architects who participated in these attempts to give Pan-America architectural form. Although one project might represent a single moment in an architect's career in which he or she only briefly engaged the concept, several architects and artists worked on numerous Pan-American-themed projects over the course of their careers, including John Merven Carrère, O'Neil Ford, Henry Hornbostel, Albert Kelsey, Hugh Ferris, Edward Durell Stone, and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The goal of this book is not to identify the most dedicated, passionate, or successful Pan-American architects or enthusiasts but to reveal how individual and collaborative interpretations contributed to shaping this evolving ideological construct. The projects examined here do not constitute a complete list. This study has been limited to selected landmarks. I hope this study will inspire a parallel examination of related conceptual expressions in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. This neglected chapter of American architecture also sheds light on an evolving Pan-American built environment that still exists today, with each new project extending this century-long interest in giving a physical form to Pan-America.

Mapping the Sources of the Pan-American Idea

Although U.S.-defined Pan-Americanism emerged in the late nineteenth century as a broad desire to forge hemispheric connections, with commercial interests at the core, a more subtle Pan-American discourse evolved alongside it, which the U.S. government articulated as an ideological tool for defining a rhetoric of common purpose and regional identity based on understanding South, Central, and North America as a hemisphere. These developments were based on what historian Arthur P. Whitaker identified as the Western Hemisphere idea, a belief "that the peoples of this Hemisphere stand in a special relation to one another which sets them apart from the rest of the world." Although the Pan-American concept's definition continuously shifted, reflecting historical circumstances and its many framers, the U.S. government's appropriation of the concept sits firmly at the center of this history. The origin of the Pan-American is attributed to Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan liberator, who introduced the notion in his famous Jamaica Letter of 1815 in conjunction with a proposal for a unified state of Latin American nations—a vision that precedes Whitaker's notion of commonality, since Bolívar's vision was rooted in pan–Latin American solidarity. Bolívar explored the concept in his early-nineteenth-century writings, and it inspired an unprecedented meeting of nations he organized in Panama in 1826, to which the United States and Spain were invited as guests. The United States' appropriation of the concept did not occur until the late 1800s, when officials embraced it as an ideological instrument to facilitate the nation's political and commercial ambitions. They did so while taking advantage of the fact that Pan-Americanism had already been appropriated in a series of earlier projects, often reflecting similar motivations. When the concept was formally embraced in Washington at the First International Conference of American States of 1889–1890, the United States assumed a leadership role in this movement, even though subsequent conferences took place throughout Latin America (see Table I.1). This conference led to the founding in 1890 of the Commercial Bureau of American Republics, an organization constantly restructured and renamed through the mid-1940s. From the outset, the United States established that the U.S. secretary of state would serve as permanent director of the organization's governing board. This led to expressions of distrust. Latin American participants at the first conference voiced their belief that the Pan-American mission could exist only by abandoning elements of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which called for U.S. dominance of the Western Hemisphere. This internal tension eventually affected how U.S.-government-defined Pan-Americanism evolved and why the organization was restructured.

Latin Americans again voiced concern when Secretary of State Elihu Root helped give the movement a home in Washington, D.C., with the establishment of a secretariat in 1906 for the organization, by then renamed the International Bureau of American Republics. When the bureau (once again renamed the Pan-American Union) erected its new headquarters building in 1910, prominently located on the Washington Mall, Latin American representatives again grew concerned that hemispheric hegemony was being institutionalized in the capital city of the dominant member nation. The Pan-American Union finally established a democratic representation of the American republics in the early 1920s, when Colombia demanded a representative format for choosing the governing board's director and the organization's director-general. Not long after that, Latin American representatives controlled the most important seats of power within the organization. This was an important moment in the history of U.S. imperialism, as the path to a neutral and balanced union of the American republics was being paved. By 1948, when the organization changed its name to the Organization of American States, it occupied an expanded complex of buildings, with Cret and Kelsey's original classical structure sitting at the center as a remnant of an important but past phase of the organization's beginnings.

Alongside the organization's history, other U.S.-defined conceptions of Pan-Americanism emerged as various U.S. cities throughout the U.S. South also appropriated the Pan-American concept. Cities began to claim the title of Gateway to (or of) the Americas, initially with respect to port activity, as was the case with New Orleans and Miami. Other conditions also inspired the title, as seen when El Heraldo de Brownsville noted in 1939, "The extreme southern position of the Brownsville airport weather station, located here at the 'gateway of the Americas,' puts it in an advantageous position for the collection of aerological and surface reports." The report noted how the station's reach extended as far south as the Panama Canal. Early Pan-American Airways postcards claimed Miami as the "Aerial Gateway between the Americas." By the 1960s, cities with Latino populations and with strong ties or proximity to Latin America also asserted hemispheric centrality. Growing out of this tendency, Latinos have more recently appropriated the concept with numerous projects, often identified with the term "las Américas."

An outline of the long history of constructing Pan-America in the built environment illustrates that this development occurred sporadically (see Map FM.1 and chronology). This history extends from a time when Pan-America was shaped by desires to promote the United States' economic and political prominence in Latin America to a time when ethnic communities in the United States engaged and appropriated the Pan-American concept on their own terms. In an effort to impose a disciplined framework on this mapping process, I consider only projects that were initiated by and for U.S. interests with the intention of representing the Western Hemisphere in the built environment. Although Laredo's bridge and border sit like crosshairs at a border crossing, registering a unique and multilayered Pan-American cultural landscape, that example does not figure into this architectural study. At the same time, the Columbus Lighthouse is included in this study even though it is located in Santo Domingo. This is because the competition that led to the construction of this monument was sponsored by the Pan-American Union and organized by Albert Kelsey, who served as the competition's technical advisor. Other projects such as Chicago's World Columbian Exposition of 1893, which began with a strong hemispherically themed objective, are identifiable by their multinational claims or by their references to Christopher Columbus. Still others remain curious and remote expressions connected by name alone today, some long regarded as idiosyncratic remnants of a bygone era. Ask a New Yorker what motivated the transformation of Sixth Avenue into the Avenue of the Americas in the 1940s. The answer may reflect a hint of uncertainty and nostalgia. The institutions, monuments, and place-names considered in this study, built or unbuilt, are as diverse as the various constituencies that created them, be they the United States, city officials, associations of people, or passionate hemispheric enthusiasts.

Like Luigi Pirandello's six characters in search of an author, my book attempts to situate these landmarks in their historical location with respect to one another. The resulting history must also be located, given its interdisciplinary nature. As the first book to present a comprehensive history of Pan-American architecture, this work sits at the intersection of American and Latin American studies, the study of American architecture, the nascent field of hemispheric cultural studies, and political and diplomatic histories. The projects present a form of political and diplomatic architecture that used thematic strategies conceived to forward Pan-Americanism's multinational message. More specifically, this history resides in the growing field of "world's fair and exposition studies." Both terms are used in this book, with "hemispheric fair" also used to refer to those fairs that focused on the Western Hemisphere. The fairs examined here highlight architecture's historical function as a medium of propaganda, and this study builds upon the works of Zeynep Çelik, Pat Morton, and Robert Rydell. This history also intersects the studies of U.S. embassies conducted by Ron Robin and Jane C. Loeffler, although as representations on domestic soil, the projects I examine may be seen as reciprocal cases of diplomatic architecture.

Numerous studies resonate with Pan-America's history of architectural expression articulated to affirm a political and cultural stance, including the architecture of cultural centers, museums, and national pavilions and monuments. Pan-American architecture's focus on multinational representations brings to mind world monuments, peace unions, and other intergovernmental architectural forms, not to mention theoretical global projects that were never constructed, such as Le Corbusier's Mundaneum. Finally, with the focus on Pan-Americanism and the explicit ordering of space that was meant to simultaneously promote (often superficial) representations of unification and a Latin-Anglo division, this history intersects the architecture of colonization, bringing to mind the architectural culture of British India and French Africa. An example of this is seen in two flanking statues at the entrance to the Pan-American Union, where North and South America are represented as simultaneously resonant and distant entities. The continents take the form of depictions of two mothers, each protecting her young son, alluding to shared maternal instincts and the possibility of a friendship (given their shared experiences). The variety of projects examined here serves to call into question repeated attempts to clarify a vision of a U.S.-defined (new) world with repeating themes providing a vision of a common heritage.

The Pan-American Citizen

From coast to coast, the notion of the Pan-American citizen gained popularity throughout the 1930s and 1940s, giving further credence to a common Pan-American heritage. In 1939, Wilma Arline Sallade donned an inter-American dress made of 8,000 postage stamps from the Americas at Tampa's Pan-American Hernando de Soto Exposition (Figs. I.4 and I.5). In 1941, the Los Angeles Mexican American Chamber of Commerce presented actress Mona Maris with a Pan-American Citizen Award. Although these occasions were associated with civic rituals and were isolated gestures, such cultural performances of notions of subject identity played a critical role in the conceptualization and shaping of the buildings and urban landscapes examined in this architectural history. This study shows how the imagined Pan-American subject was tied directly to each project through its development, design, and promotion phases. This imagined citizen symbolically stood at the center of each structure as the embodiment of the Pan-American mission. The identified—and often, self-identified—"Pan-American" was at times the progenitor of a project and at times the benefactor. This history begins with the Pan-American promoters, the Anglo-American experts such as Curtis who had traveled "down South" and mastered all things "Latin," and it ends with supposedly enlightened U.S. citizens living in harmony within an environment that was seemingly shaped by a strong Latin American heritage. The presence of this imagined hemispheric subject throughout this history, an imagined figure identified as a "Pan-American" in many instances, helps outline the hemispheric motives that preceded, followed, and overlapped the period of heightened U.S. imperialism.

This history purposefully raises the question of the Pan-American subject—the imagined Latin American—and my analytical approach benefits from postcolonial theories. Yet this study seeks to move beyond the colonizer and colonized framework by focusing on the imagined subject. As an architectural history, this study is an opportunity to examine the spatial definitions of a fictional or imaginary occupant of architecture. I have undertaken this study in the hope that it will contribute to the field of critical Orientalist studies as applied to architecture because theories identified with Edward Said's Orientalism are applicable to the theories of resistance that he also explored. The study of Pan-American architecture examines not only the way U.S. interests spatially imagined the Other but also the oppositional activity that ensued as architectural developments unfolded. Furthermore, as an analysis of the construction of an artificial, ideological identity associated with a fictional Pan-America, this study presents an opportunity to explore the architectural strategies used to create and take apart this imaginary place. Other regionally based intergovernmental organizations—the European Union, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—have projected the concept of subject types. Yet none has yielded this amount of architectural production. This study not only presents some of the earliest examples of the construction of a multinational subject; it reveals how this occurred through diplomatic discourse, the news media, and architectural designs. As architects navigated these complex cultural formations, they translated what they understood as "cultural imperatives" into built form with the careful selection of architectural styles, iconography, symbols, and theatrical devices. The multiple ways in which the Pan-American subject was imagined and represented reflect the breadth of U.S.-defined Pan-Americanism, whether it engaged cultural constructions tied to a city's local population or a Latino community. This is an important case where architectural evidence helps inform a much larger and complex diplomatic phenomenon.

Examinations of the Pan-American subject are beginning to be pursued in the field of hemispheric cultural studies, but this has not been the case with U.S. imperialist studies, which continue to focus on the colonized Pan-American subject, the Latin American. Such scholarship typically focuses on international policies and economic and trade relations. Criticism of U.S. imperialism often centers on the Monroe Doctrine, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the history of the United Fruit Company, and the interventionist policies of the United States in Latin America. These studies tend to come from the fields of history, diplomacy history, and Latin American and international studies. A few scholars have also examined U.S. imperialism in the context of Pan-Americanism's cultural and artistic dimensions, but fewer still have considered its built environment. Studies that examine the intersections of the Pan-American concept and U.S. Latino cultural production are few and far between, and this area in particular benefits from this Pan-American architectural history. A brief examination of how U.S. imperialist studies often intersect with the built environment helps clarify the difficulty that exists when defining Pan-America outside the imperialist framework, specifically with regard to the Pan-American subject.

Historian Ricardo Salvatore's examination of the Pan-American Union's inner workings illustrates the way the organization's numerous propagandist projects exemplified overt cultural hegemony. He examines how this "representational machine's" ideological dissemination of a U.S.-government-defined Pan-America was facilitated by educational films, printed literature, various societies and clubs, and planned excursions to Latin America. Salvatore observes how the movement harbored a relationship based on unilateral power, even when it appeared well intentioned. In this context, the Pan-American loyalist appears, both as a part of this machine and as the recipient of the propaganda. In other studies, Salvatore examines such infrastructural projects as the Pan-American Highway, which he regards in the same vein, calling it an example of "imperial mechanics." His analysis of the Pan-American Union would differ substantially, however, if he had taken the organization's later developments into consideration, specifically the moment when Latin American members challenged these tactics and took control of the organization. Furthermore, in some parts of the U.S. Southwest, Latinos embraced the organization's propagandist projects and clubs to edify their own communities and their collective sense of identity, further complicating the notion of a Pan-American subject. Salvatore's study is an important contribution because it sheds light on the dynamics of this period of increased U.S. activity, and the role the newly constructed Pan-American Union Building played during this time of U.S. imperialism.

At the centennial of the Pan-American Exposition of 1901, historian Sara Castro-Klarén wrote an essay on Pan-Americanism in which she also presents the Pan-American Union through the lens of imperialism. She does this by projecting the headquarters building as the capstone of the United States' appropriation of Bolivarian Pan-Americanism, which she carefully unravels. Referring to the United States as the "empire," she writes: "Thus, Bolívar's idea was finally harnessed and, like an Egyptian obelisk or the Parthenon, transported to the center of the empire to be inversely deployed." To describe how this took place, she begins with the original meaning of Pan-Americanism, or americanismo, as Bolívar stated it. She outlines a historical account of the concept's formation, reconstructing the steps that led to his proposal. Castro-Klarén discusses the philosophical underpinnings of the concept and elucidates them in terms of the Liberator's elite education and his travels throughout Europe. She also attributes formation of the concept to Bolívar's dislocating experiences, which occurred during the throes of revolution. She writes:

In moving out of the place where they had been born, the home of their forefathers and mothers, Bolívar's troops discovered new agencies and unforeseen subjective and material landscapes. This general movement of the known world inaugurated the possibility of the idea of a Pan-American identity: that is to say, a sense of a shared and restricted life experience lived on a commonly possessed territory and within a set of trans-temporal and trans-individual cultural parameters. Despite the fact that Bolívar ended in political defeat, his invention of a historically sui generis American subject remains.

When she discusses the manner in which the United States appropriated the term "Pan-American," Castro-Klarén points out that the redefining and liberating elements of the concept were lost and that the United States deployed the Liberator's call for unity to serve its economic interests. As she depicts this historic transition from Bolivarian Pan-Americanism to U.S. Pan-Americanism, Castro-Klarén felt compelled to ask if history repeats itself. She raised the question in the context of the U.S. annexation of northern Mexico in 1848, the Chicano movement of the 1960s, and massive immigration throughout the Americas.

Recent scholarly developments suggest that paralleling Bolívar's dislocated "sui generis American subject" are the dislocated subjects who found themselves in a mid-nineteenth-century United States in the throes of their own cultural revolutions. "Revisionist" literature has helped identify these early forms of U.S. Latino hemispheric consciousness. Arte Público Press, founded in 1979 by Nicolás Kanellos, has worked in conjunction with the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project to identify and publish many works of recovery literature, some dating from the American colonial period. Writers who addressed a hemispheric consciousness produced many of these U.S.-based Spanish-language texts. Kirsten Silva Gruesz, in Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing, focuses on the emergence of Spanish-language print culture in the United States in order to identify this type of hemispheric consciousness. In examining how writers contributed to a Pan-Latino identity with broadsheets, newsletters, and Spanish-language newspapers, Gruesz points out that they constructed a distinctive consciousness with the understanding that readers like themselves existed across the United States and Latin America. They maintained their connections across the rapidly changing American topography by identifying with each other through the subjects they chose to write about. It is difficult to prove to what extent this genre of writing influenced U.S. Latino appropriations of the Pan-American organizations and student forums that took root in their communities in the twentieth century. Numerous Spanish-language and bilingual magazines, the New Orleans–based El Mercurio (1911–1927) and Pan-American Magazine (1910–1916), for example, often dealt with the Pan-American concept while addressing U.S. Latinos (Fig. I.6). These were filled with iconic images of the Western Hemisphere, as seen in El Mercurio's illustrations. U.S. Latinos were erecting independent frameworks of empowerment, however, rather than formulating critiques of the Pan-American Union's propagandist material and the hemispheric discourse that resulted. Latinos took advantage of these locally based organizations to edify their own communities.

In the first decade of the twentieth century, newly conceptualized U.S. institutions and the buildings that housed them also demonstrate the way the Pan-American concept was used to identify Latin American immigrants, another indication that a Pan-American identity was associated with Mexican Americans and Latin American immigrants in the United States. One of the earliest examples was a proposal in 1916 to establish a series of Pan-American universities in the nation's southern states and one in Panama City. Upon moving to Coconut Grove in Miami, the recently resigned Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan hoped these universities would form a network of intellectual and cultural centers in the Western Hemisphere. Bryan had served as the ex officio chairman of the Pan-American Union's governing board, and he imagined a hemispheric population being indoctrinated at these schools. Although Bryan's vision led to the founding of the University of Miami in 1925, Pan-American College (today, the University of Texas-Pan American), founded in Edinburg, Texas, in 1952, contributed to his vision with its goal of casting a wide net to Latinos and Latin Americans, although in the 1950s, this was an Anglo-controlled institution.

Two U.S. hospitals, in which recent Latin American immigrant were the primary clients, present similar cases of hemispheric identification. In 1927, the Pan-American Medical Association and Hispanic Medical Center founded the Pan-American Hospital in New York City to serve 200,000 Latin American immigrants. Their goal was to provide medical services to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking New Yorkers. This effort lasted only a few years. In 1963 a Pan-American Hospital (today, Miami Metropolitan Hospital) was founded in Miami by Cuban doctors in exile wanting to provide medical services to the immigrant Cuban community. Cultural centers across the southern states also adopted the hemispheric identification throughout the 1960s, targeting Latino populations or a city's heritage. This occurred with the Pan-American Center of St. Augustine, Florida, built in 1965, and the one in Las Cruces, New Mexico, built in 1968. There is a fine line between these types of U.S. Latino institutions and other examples that maintain a focus on the equal representation of all the American republics. Another popular term, "Americas" (in English), also introduces ambiguity, as seen with such institutions as the Americas Society in New York City, founded by David Rockefeller in 1965, and the Organization of American States' own Art Museum of the Americas, which opened in 1976.

Latino communities nationwide have embraced the Pan-American concept, but an imagined Pan-America has resonated with people from all walks of life. The concept's diverse interpretations have invited many to participate, broadening the notion of a Pan-American identity. The poet Muna Lee is a perfect example, given her desire to identify a Pan-American character in her writings and lifestyle. Pan-Americanism is not solely the purview of the diplomats and architects who have attempted to represent this complex ideology. It has appealed and continues to appeal to travelers, writers, artists, and social groups interested in exploring cross-cultural connections. In geographic terms, Pan-American identity is rooted in an imagined state of coexistence with all the peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The free-floating image of linked continents that geography textbooks in the United States have popularized served as the mental picture. In Orientalism's terms, it is rooted in one's curiosity-driven desire to gain access to the Other within these territories. It is thus associated with U.S. Americans projecting a Pan-American identity as a result of their excursions "down South" (as opposed to travels to Canada or in the United States). Border dwellers living between and at the juncture of the United States and Mexico (or symbolically, the U.S.–Latin America border) may also have engaged the concept as they examined cultural categories. Finally, others embraced a Pan-American identity as a result of travel in Latin America, or because of connections made or felt with all of the Americas, often the result of educational pursuits, civic projects, or festivities.

Popular culture and institutions throughout the United States have liberally used the term "Pan-American" to characterize recreational journeys and trade and business ventures. Accounts of the Pan-American subject's triumphs and travails were captured in film and print, often to amuse and entice curious consumers (Figs. I.7 and I.8). In the popular press, as early as the late nineteenth century, there were accounts of Latin Americans visiting the United States in diplomatic or economic missions who were simply referred to as "Pan-Americans." In the same pages, U.S. citizens trekking through South America's jungles for an adventure in "America's backyard" or investing in coffee plantations as part of an exotic business venture were similarly identified. The media and travel industry invited people to partake in these hemispheric encounters, with Pan-American World Airways leading the way (Fig. I.9). Carmen Miranda contributed with her lyrical flirtations that promised adventure down "South American Way" (Fig. I.10). Films of this period familiarized U.S. Americans with this new identity, including Flying Down to Rio (1933) and Orson Welles' unfinished film It's All True (1941–1942), but apparently not the box-office flop Pan-Americana (1945; Fig. I.11). In New York City, the spirit of Pan-America was captured in the energetic big-band sounds of Maya's Pan-American Orchestra, especially with its popular soundie The Havana-Madrid Show: Paran-Pan-Pan (1941). References to these musicians as Maya and His Rhumba Ambassadors or Los Diplomáticos cast the entire affair in multinational terms.

In the academy, educational pursuits helped develop future Pan-Americans. Latin American studies programs were established in universities and colleges across the United States beginning in the 1920s. Originally modeled on the Orientalist area studies programs, they increased in number in the 1930s during the Roosevelt administration and in 1940 with the founding of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, headed by Nelson D. Rockefeller. They got another significant boost with the passing of the Title VI National Defense Education Act of 1958. Leisure travel and recreational programs emerged around the same time, taking the form of road races along the Pan-American Highway, the Carrera Panamericana, founded in 1949, and the Pan-American Sporting Games scheduled to be held in 1942, but not inaugurated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, until 1951 (Fig. I.12). Confirmation that the Pan-American was in me, in you, and in the couple next door was dramatized in I Love Lucy, which was introduced to U.S. television audiences in 1951. In this depiction of an ethnically mixed marriage, the Latin (Desi Arnaz) was presented as the stable and controlling partner and the Anglo (Lucille Ball) as the immature and erratic one, a reflection of gender stereotypes of the time and an attempt to capitalize on Ball's comedic talent. The Pan-American spirit resided in Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Public interest in all things Pan-American seemed to reach an apex in the early 1950s. The same year that Desi Arnaz entered U.S. American homes, Miamians flew down a talented New York visionary to help them design the tropical world's fair that would be known as Interama. They, too, hoped to capitalize on the dizzying spirit that emanated from Pan-America.

Equal Representation for All Americans

With the emergence of the imagined Pan-American citizen, the movement's reach may have seemed pervasive, but this did not mean that the Latin-Anglo division at the core of the concept had disappeared. Pan-America would continue to be characterized by a model of multinational unity and simultaneously by a model of unrelenting divisions—all the American republics would be viewed through the bifurcated lenses of the Latin and the Anglo. Representations of the whole seemed to only strengthen stereotypes of "the far South." Often, the Pan-American heritage theme served as a synecdoche for a generic Latin American, who was treated as a legitimate stand-in for any and all things Latin American. As the Pan-American concept was continuously used to represent this asymmetrical relationship, the United States assumed a position of elevated importance. The goal of equality between nations that the concept asserted with "Pan" was compromised by cultural contrasts that continuously singled out the United States from the rest: English versus Spanish/Portuguese, Protestant versus Catholic, Anglo versus Latin. A number of U.S. architects employed design strategies to represent this asymmetrical relationship, though they represented the two entities side by side with structures that were most often commissioned by, designed by, and built by and for U.S. interests. In some projects, a minimal representation of Latin America (in design as well as participation) was enough to earn the Pan-American designation. This occurred even though the Pan-American Union's official membership asserted the promise of equal unity among the twenty-one member republics. These countries were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. This list seemed to allow creators of numerous independent projects to sidestep accountability and equality required for the member nations: a reference to the Washington organization was a reference to all the Americas. Though Canada was excluded as a member (as the list indicates), it was often present in the ubiquitous silhouette of the Americas, although the Pan-American Union's logo explicitly pointed out Canada's nonmembership in its logo (Fig. I.13). Was the organization half-empty or half-full? The evolution of the organization eventually led to the current list of thirty-five member states, with Canada joining in 1990.

The question of equal representation among the American republics would remain a complicated issue because it was difficult to attain, especially in the organization of a world's fair. The development of an architectural project and its national representation depended on many and various uncontrollable elements (origin of the idea; the sources of funding the civic, state, national, and international interests at stake). At its best, a Pan-American project suggested that all the American republics would come together in unity and equality. Projects branded with the name, however, could rarely deliver on such a promise because it would have required the commitment of so many nations, and architects did not always feel compelled to rectify the situation with their designs. Why would they if the Spanish Renaissance style was enough to indicate a Latin presence, as assumed at Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition of 1901? Furthermore, architects did not see projects that emphasized regional identity as being equal to those that emphasized neutrality, as was the case with the designs submitted to the League of Nations Competition of 1927 and the United Nations Competition of 1964. Pan-American projects were conceived not simply as assemblies of nations but as celebrations of the emergence of ever-changing hemispheric relationships, and they were deeply entrenched in cultural associations.

That Pan-American architecture perpetuated divisive constructs because of its aim of bringing entities together suggests a contradictory ideology from the outset. Historian Lawrence E. Harrison examines the incongruity that many felt was inherent in the Pan-American project in his book The Pan-American Dream: Do Latin American Cultural Values Discourage True Partnership with the United States and Canada? (1998). Harrison points out that even today many still regard the projection of unity as an illogical assumption. In the late-nineteenth-century fairs, however, Pan-American expressions did not hide the fact that these projects were no more than economically and politically driven instruments imbued with calls for unity and exchange. U.S. Pan-Americanism firmly located all citizens of the New World on either side of a geopolitical line that separated the United States from Latin America. It encouraged Pan-American acts of kindness and adventure, and hemispheric subjects were defined by the intentions behind their desire to cross that line—to travel down south or north. Arguments were seldom made for cultural unification or acculturation and certainly never for political unity, as these were not the original purposes of the organization. The Pan-American Union maintained a safe distance from ever appearing to operate like an actual peace union, and in the 1930s, the United States repeatedly rejected proposals for a League of American Nations. It rebuffed plans forwarded by the Dominican dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo for an organization with greater powers than the Pan-American Union, although a stronger organization eventually was realized in 1948 with the Union's transformation into the Organization of American States. The spiraling gesture of all Americans coming together as one, seen in the opening ceremonies of the Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007, worked for the world of sports but not for a nation wanting to maintain its sovereignty and leadership position (Fig. I.14).

Networks of exchange were conceived in nonpolitical, unifying terms, unless circumstances required otherwise. For example, although the Pan-American Highway was mostly used as a conduit of exchange and travel, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to collaborate on its construction with "Military Road" extensions of the highway in the 1940s. They did this when the war emergency caused the United States to turn its attention to Central America, a region that was considered vulnerable. This occurred, however, while the highway continued to function as a popular mode of travel, especially for those wanting to motor down to Mexico. With Pan-American Airways flying people to any number of destinations "down South" with greater frequency, the subjects of leisure and unity remained at the center of a perceived Pan-American lifestyle (Fig. I.15). The ever-growing promise of modes of travel available to anyone who could afford to partake in the trans-American encounter remained a favorite topic of interest in the press. The enticement started with late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century world's fairs, with their exhibits featuring commerce and trade and any number of ambitious infrastructural projects promising even more connections throughout the Americas. Curtis' depictions of Latin America's raw materials had planted the tropical seed. The hemispheric notion was such a grand idea that it took on a life of its own.