A Tijuana for the Next Generation
The border report
Downtown Tijuana—Zona Centro—isn’t exactly historic. Most everything that meets the eye in the 125-year-old city center dates back to the 1980s and has always been a facade to set the scene for an authentic taste of Mexico—or authentic enough.
In the past, many Tijuanenses had treated it as a cursed amusement park, best left for foreigners hunting for cheap silver and oversized sombreros. Few fell for its quirky charm, and most neglected it to the point that it eventually decayed into becoming just shy of a ghost town.
Take a stroll down Revolucion today, however, and you’ll see that it’s anything but, thanks in part to the efforts of Miguel Buenrostro.
In 2010, Buenrostro launched “Reactivando Espacios” (Reactivating Spaces), a series of short films documenting the nosedive in Tijuana’s tourism industry and its impact on downtown shopkeepers. Inspired by efforts in Guadalajara and Mexico City, the project evolved into an urban crusade to reincarnate shuttered commercial spaces as galleries, boutiques, cafes, and nanobreweries. The project has transformed Pasaje Rodriguez and Pasaje Gomez into artistic enclaves, and next on Buenrostro’s agenda is the abandoned tour bus depot, Hub Station, with its iconic, but oft-overlooked, kaleidoscopic stained glass ceiling.
“Before we can expect foreigners to come,” he says, “we have to first convince ourselves that this is where our city’s identity must grow.”