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Over the course of the 20th century, Tijuana grew from a ranch populated by a few hundred Mexicans into a Prohibition retreat for boozing and gambling—then it morphed yet again into an industrial giant infamous for its proliferation of maquiladoras (sweatshops).
Gone are the glamorous days when Hollywood stars would frequent hot spots like the Agua Caliente Racetrack & Casino, which opened in 1929. When Prohibition was repealed, Tijuana's fortunes began to decline, and, in 1967, when the toll highway to Ensenada was completed, Tijuana ceased to be such a necessary pit stop on the overland route to the rest of Baja. Even the Jai-Alai Palace—which survived into the new millennium as the city's last bastion of gambling—is just a museum now.
In recent years, as drug violence has boomed along the U.S.-Mexico border, Tijuana has taken the brunt of it. Blatant street violence and firefights—though still rare—have taken places on city streets, and American visitors have become targets of some of the crime. Whatever glamour Tijuana may once have claimed is now gone, and those in search of bygone across-the-border thrills may find disappointment: even the party crowd has been scared away.
Apart from a handful of innovative restaurants featuring Mexican and international cuisine, there is very little to recommend Tijuana in its most recent state. Until the wave of crime subsides, the town is best seen from behind windows, en route to other destinations of the Baja Peninsula.
Elsewhere in Baja Peninsula
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