Tombstone's OK Corral recreation.

Squabble Over Tombstone Authenticity

Battle lines are being drawn in Tombstone, Arizona. On the one hand are the people who want an authentic 19th century Wild West town. On the other are the people who want a Wild West-themed shopping mall, or a Disneyland with spurs.

Until now the forces of squishyness have been winning in Tombstone. Shop owners in the historic district have painted their buildings chartreuse, mauve, and purple, with faux exposed brick or Spanish tiles. Storefronts advertise themselves as from the 1870s or 1880s, when they aren't.

Tombstone's historic district was given National Historic Landmark status in 1962. But the Department of the Interior has now put Tombstone on its threatened list -- its highest warning level. The implication is that Tombstone could have its Landmark status revoked if the town doesn't stop violating historic preservation building codes.

Does anyone care about Landmark status, other than pointy-headed scholars? It must provide financial benefits, as the town is now scrambling to appease the preservationists, asking for their opinions and hosting authenticity workshops. And if it incidentally leads to more gunfights and simulated hangings and bloody wax museums, and less aromatherapy and outlet stores and dreamcatcher boutiques, it will have been a good thing.

[08/13/2005]
Address:
E. Allen St., Tombstone, AZ
Directions:
I-10 exits 303, 304, or 306, then south on Hwy 80 for 23 miles. Most of Tombstone's attractions line a three-block stretch of E. Allen St. between S. 3rd and S. 6th Sts.
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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