Tijuana's Downtown Is So Much More Than Curios and Cheap Beer

What do you know about Tijuana's Downtown, known there as "El Centro"?

The image that comes quickly in everyone's mind when they think about this area of the city is (usually) Avenida Revolución, or maybe the "Zona Norte," as well as the area next to the border. But really, the Downtown neighborhood/district is much more than that.

First of all, it is geographically more than that.

Neighborhoods as well known and full of history as Federal, Zona Norte, Madero, Gabilondo, Downtown Tijuana, Zona Urbana Río Tijuana, Aviación, Chapultepec and even Hipódromo; are all there.

See what we mean. The map shows you the different "delegaciones" in the city (districts) and Centro isn't just a single street or a few city blocks. If anything, El Centro are the city blocks of Tijuana:

Delegación El Centro (Downtown), surrounded by San Antonio de los Buenos, Otay, Sanchez Taboada, [b]La Mesa, the U.S. border and Playas de Tijuana.[/b]

The Delegación El Centro comprehends from the San Ysidro Port of Entry to the Hipódromo, with Zona Río, Downtown, "La Cacho", and neighborhoods of yesteryear as Altamira, Roma and Juárez also in it.

One of El Mamut sandwiches. Photo: Orlando Macías
One of El Mamut sandwiches. Photo: Orlando Macías

The Delegación El Centro is both the past and the possible future of the city. Tijuana at its best, its challenges and its potential. This isn't an attempt to shun "La Revu" or others, but an attempt to explain that these neighborhoods are not alone, and that Tijuana's downtown areas can be more than just a few blocks.

In addition, Centro is not only the tourist heart of the city, but also the historic heart of it, and an important part of the culinary identity of the city with 386 restaurants registered in the area; this according to the National Chamber of Food and Restaurant Industry (Canirac) in Tijuana.

This is how the coordinator of the delegaciones (districts) of Tijuana, Alfredo Contreras Macklis, says that: "Centro is the first impression that all people who cross the border from San Ysidro to Tijuana take in. It is the meeting point between foreign and Tijuana visitors. That is why it is very important to change the bad image we have of this district by working hand in hand with neighbors and tenants. "

And that change of image begins with understanding our downtown as much as you can:

It is the area with the most education centers in Tijuana, with a total of 314 elementary schools, junior and senior high schools, universities and technical centers, both public and private.

There are 77 neighborhoods within it, some which are among the oldest in the city.

Population: 115,000 inhabitants in 2016.

Size: 6160 acres.

During the first 10 months of Rodolfo Olimpo Hernández Bojórquez at the head of the delegación, the sense of community was strengthened and he maintained the course he needed to follow this progress.

Photo: Alain González
Photo: Alain González

That progress continues, says Macklis, and as one of the districts with the highest economic performance and full of Tijuana's history, Centro is especially important for him.

"We have been implementing programs to clean sewers, wash and sweep sidewalks, as well as operatives with support from the Municipal Police. The relocation of homeless and streets cleaning are also part of the process, mainly in Zona Norte and the Castillo neighborhood. We are also trying to shield the city's first frame to reduce the crime rates that had been growing in recent months, "he said.

Photo: Orlando Macías
Photo: Orlando Macías

It is the largest tourist and financial district in the municipality, with more than 100,000 people crossing from San Ysidro to Tijuana every day; and when they cross, a large part of them stays in the city, either to enjoy the food in Zona Río or to go to the Xolos soccer game in the Caliente Stadium.

Alfredo Contreras Macklis (in the right) and an officer and chief of the Centro district.
Alfredo Contreras Macklis (in the right) and an officer and chief of the Centro district.

"Our immediate objective is to make the tourist walker feel better, to have an illuminated district, to be able to walk through bumpy streets, to have good signage and enough green areas, to provide a pleasant and safe experience to all the people who visit us," said Contreras Macklis.

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Translated by:cristina.mora@sandiegored.com


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