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Saturday, March 21, 2009

City of Tijuana, Mexico

Tijuana (pronounced /ˌtiːəˈwɑːnə/;[2] Spanish, pronounced [ti'xwana]), is the largest city of the Mexican state of Baja California, situated on the U.S.-Mexico border adjacent to its sister city of San Diego, California. Tijuana is the westernmost city in Mexico, however, the westernmost population center is located in Isla Guadalupe.
Currently, the Tijuana metropolitan area is the sixth-largest in Mexico, with a population of 1,483,992. The San Diego-Tijuana Metropolitan Area is the 14th largest metropolitan area in North America, at 4,922,723. Tijuana is one of the fastest-growing cities in Mexico.
The land where the city of Tijuana would be built was originally inhabited by the Kumeyaay, a tribe of Yuman-speaking hunter-gatherers. Europeans arrived in 1542, when the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo toured the coastline of the area, which was later mapped in 1602 by Sebastián Vizcaíno. In 1769, Juan Crespí documented more detailed information about the area that would be called the Valley of Tijuana. Junípero Serra founded the first mission of Alta California in San Diego.
More settlement of the area took place near the end of the mission era when José María Echendía, governor of the Baja California and Alta California, awarded a large land grant to Santiago Argüello in 1829. This large cattle ranch, Rancho Tía Juana ("Aunt Jane Ranch"), covered 100 km2 (40 sq mi).
In 1848, as a result of the Mexican-American War with the United States, Mexico lost all of Alta California. Tijuana acquired a new and distinct character and purpose on the international border. The city began to shed its cattle ranching origins and developed a new socio-economic structure.
1889 marked the beginning of the urban settlement, when descendants of Santiago Argüello and Augustín Olvera entered an agreement to begin development of the city of Tijuana. The date of the agreement, July 11, 1889, is recognized as the founding of the city.[3]
Tijuana saw its future in tourism from its inception. From the end of the 19th century to the first decades of the 20th, the city attracted large numbers of Californians coming to Mexico for trade and entertainment. The California land boom of the 1880s attracted the first big wave of tourists, who were called "excursionists" and came looking for echoes of the famous novel "Ramona," by Helen Hunt Jackson.
In 1911, during the Mexican Revolution, revolutionaries claiming loyalty to Ricardo Flores Magón attacked and took over the city for shortly over a month. Federal troops soon arrived and, combined with local loyal militia known as the "defensores de Tijuana," routed the rebels, who fled back across the line and were promptly arrested by the U.S. Army. This event is a source of much local controversy, and the "rebels" are almost universally reviled in Tijuana as "filibusteros".
In 1915, the Panama-California Exposition brought a great number of visitors to the neighboring California city of San Diego. Tijuana took the opportunity to attract these tourists south of the border with a Feria Típica Mexicana - Typical Mexican Fair. This fair included curio shops, regional foods, thermal baths, horse racing and boxing matches.
The first big professional race track was soon thereafter opened in January, 1916, a few meters south of the border gate, near what is now called Pueblo Amigo. It was almost immediately destroyed by the great "Hatfield rainmaker" flood of 1916. Rebuilt in the same general area, it ran horse races until the new Agua Caliente track was opened several miles south and across the river on higher ground, in 1929, one year after the famous casino and hotel complex.
Legal drinking and gambling attracted U.S nationals, especially during Prohibition in the 1920s. The Avenida Revolución area became the tourist center of the city with casinos such as the Foreign Club, and lodging such as Hotel Caesar's, birthplace of the Caesar Salad.
In 1928, the Agua Caliente Touristic Complex was opened, including hotel, spa, dog-track, private airport, golf course and gambling casino. A year later, the new Agua Caliente Racetrack joined the complex. During the eight years it operated, the Agua Caliente hotel, casino and spa achieved a near mythical status, with Hollywood stars and gangsters flying in and playing. Rita Hayworth was discovered there. Musical nightclub productions were broadcast over the radio. A singer known as "la Faraona" got shot in a love-triangle and gave birth to the myth of a beautiful lady ghost.
Remnants of the Agua Caliente casino can be seen in the outdoor swimming pool and the "minarete" (actually a former incinerator chimney) nearby the southern end of Avenida Sanchez Taboada, on the grounds of what is now the Lazaro Cardenas educational complex.
In 1935, President Cardenas decreed an end to gambling and casinos in Baja California, and the Agua Caliente complex faltered, then closed. It was eventually reopened as a school. The buildings themselves were torn down in the 1970s, and replaced by modern scholastic architecture.
In 1925, the city attempted to shed its negative image of hedonism and lawlessness created by American mob empresarios by renaming itself Zaragoza, but its name soon reverted to Tijuana.
With increased tourism and the large number of Mexican citizens relocating to Tijuana, the city's population grew from 21,971 to 65,364 between 1940 and 1950.
With the decline of nightlife and tourism in the 1950s, the city restructured its tourist industry, by promoting a more family-oriented scene. Tijuana developed a greater variety of attractions and activities to offer its visitors.
In 1994, PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated in Tijuana while making an appearance in the plaza of Lomas Taurinas, a neighborhood nestled in a valley near Centro. The shooter was caught and imprisoned, but doubts remain about who the mastermind might have been.
Over forty million people cross the border each year between Tijuana and San Ysidro, California, making it the busiest land-border crossing in the world.[4] Although tourism constitutes a large part of this movement, much is also business related. Tijuana and its surrounding area have become a major industrial center, with numerous maquiladoras, particularly since the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.
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