Living Museum is all Camera-Hogging Art Deco
“It’s a near-cloudless afternoon, and I’ve spent the past hour weaving dreamily around dozens of sun-dappled, immaculately preserved 1930s buildings. Art deco was all the rage when these storefronts were erected; the streets are a feast of streamlined edges, zigzag patterns and palm-fringed pastel facades,” Dallas News freelancer John Lee writes on a visit to Napier and Hastings earlier this year.
“Within two years [of the 1931 earthquake], Napier – which also increased in size when the quake pushed a large swath of ‘new’ land up from adjoining Hawke’s Bay – was back on its feet. Reflecting the fashions of the day, it was suddenly at the cutting edge of architecture.
“Art deco dominated the city’s new look, but Spanish mission, stripped classical and other hot trends were also featured. Now, more than 80 years later, the Pacific-fringed city is a living museum of some of the 20th century’s most attractive design ideals.
“I learn to look for the sunbursts, speed lines, geometric leaded windows and nautical moderne flourishes that line the downtown core. Among entire streets of beautifully preserved buildings, some landmarks stand out as camera-hogging superstars.”