About This Site

This page emerged from a course I teach called COMM 149 Rhetoric and Public Life for the Communication Studies department at San Jose State University. In that course, I share with my students a wonderful short story by William Gibson called The Gernsback Continuum. The Continuum represents a permeable membrane of reality through which one can visit the ideal futures imagined by planners and visionaries of the past. However, a person who has pierced the Gernsback Continuum experiences more than the bits and pieces of the idealized future - one enters it completely, often through a portal marked by madness. In his story, Gibson astutely points out the totalitarian implications of the Bauhaus inspired streamlined age and concludes that our somewhat dystopian present is vastly more desirable than the future promised by designers of the 1920s and 30s.

Even so, I must admit that I've been smitten by the streamlined and stylized future of the Deco Age, its curvilinear shapes, cubist principles, and stylized motifs, ever since I read Gibson's short story. Since then, I recalled his pronouncement that the architecture of the California coast looked as if it had been built by Ming the Merciless, whose techno-optimism and raygun emplacements reminded him of his native Mongo. And I remembered the protagonist who photographed one such structure in San Jose - just before it was bulldozed - before he unwillingly entered the Gernsback Continuum. When I read this scene, I lived in Florida and had no idea that I would eventually teach at San Jose State University. Like Gibson's photographer who disregards the floating san serif warning, "this way lies madness," I seemed destined to follow the stations of Art Deco's socio-architectural cross.

The images herein are the work of an amateur photographer and untrained architectural historian. They are available for your non-commercial use, provided you offer full attribution. I also request that you make a link to this page. While I hope you'll consider sharing your favorite South Bay deco haunts with me for future addition to this page, I cannot offer my services as a guide or travel planner. This is a passion for me, but not my field of expertise.

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All text (except that otherwise attributed) and images copyright 2000 Andrew Wood.