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Plan Tijuana: The Interrupted Renaissance of Avenida Revolución

From The OC Weekly

By Bill Esparza

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Plan Tijuana: The Interrupted Renaissance of Avenida Revolución

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  1. Fior the original stor and beautiful historiic pics, go to: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforki...

    1. I read this article earlier this afternoon. I thought he made some very good points. I'll be going to TJ tomorrow and other than hitting up the tequila store and possibly having lunch at Caesars, there really isn't a lot of reason to spend much more time in Ave. Revolucion which is a shame, it's a great street for walking.

      1. I find the demise of Av Revolucion to be a depressing testimony to the real and perceived loss of order in TJ and Baja in general. It's a fantasy to think that strip will ever be anything close to what it once was -- not going back to the prohibition era, not even going back 20 years ago. I'd like to believe it, but can't get there.

        That was a street that I always took visitors to when they came to the San Diego area; they were always so excited to "go to Mexico", another country. Now Av Revolucion is like a dreary, scary, lifeless ghost town. In truth, like DD, the only place I ever go to on Av Revolucion now is Ceaser's, and then only on those rare occasions when I can convince visitors that they still make the "original, real thing" salad there.

        I did enjoy the historical photos in the article. Thanks for sharing.

        6 Replies
        1. re: DoctorChow

          Sorry, DC, I don't agree with your assessment about the old Ave. Revo. It was dirty, seedy and catered to tourists, particularly tourists who wanted to get drunk or laid.I for one am glad to see a lot of that gone.

          San Diego's downtown was once almost as equally dirty and seedy, but that began to change when the Gaslamp and Horton Plaza were conceived in the late 60s and early 70s and the urban redevelopment began in earnest. Both of those have been totally revitalized, even if the locals are not entirely on-board with the results (i.e. overtly tourist oriented due to the location of the convention center and Petco). The point being that the Gaslamp and downtown in general have had 40+ years to reinvent itself, Ave Revo has only had 4 or 5 years. Once SD city government and related organizations got on board with redevelopment there were resources and a planned direction, not sure that's been the case in TJ and to me that was one of the points Bill Esparza was making. Clean it up, but do it with some thought and planning.

          When the tourists stopped coming, a lot of the businesses along Ave. Revo stopped as well. Buildings sat empty deteriorating or being vandalized. That isn't good for anyone. Revitalization lore has it that since the rents had dropped so low, enterprising young folks began renting space and set up places (along Calle Sexta for instance) for their peers to go and socialize and be safe. The movement gathered some momentum but if I read the article correction, it appears the momentum may have slowed down or stalled.

          Ave. Revo doesn't need to be a grand boulevard, but it does need to continue the redevelopment. The first Friday and the last Friday of the month, there is an "art walk" type of event in 2 of the callejons off Revolucion, there are any number of festivals held on the street throughout the year (beer, tequila, paella to name a few), but there are still a few too many stores selling cheap tourist trinkets and t-shirts to make the street a viable destination for anything other than a caesar salad and zonkey photo. It doesn't need to be cheek-by-jowl, in your face, clubs and galleries like the Gaslamp to be successful, but it does need some more business variety than it currently has in order to make it a vibrant street again.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Thanks for your comments, DD. I do wish the revitalization effort well and hope for its eventual success, even if it seems to me to be a long reach.

            In looking back to the former Av. Revolucion, I was thinking of its vibrant, actually exciting, character -- that's what was alluring to me and my out-of-town friends when they came to visit. And if we walked far enough down the street, the tourists thinned out, and there was a local market, maybe still there, where I would stock up on hard to find hot sauces, chilis, etc. That, a great taco from a stand in the same area, and a fresh lime margarita en las rocas on the balcony of my favorite bar were the perks for me for being their "tour guide"!

            I don't miss the seedy stuff, the drunk college kids, the dirt, and the beggars, but I do miss the vibrance and I don't know how long it'll be, if ever, before that returns. I agree that Calle Sexta has what appear to be some nice places for young locals, but I've been suggesting to visitors for the past many years that they avoid Av Revolution area entirely and head towards the Zona Rio instead.

            I remember well when downtown San Diego was a seedy place, but it was only that; it never had vibrance -- not during the day, and definitely not at night when it was almost deserted and downright scary. Av Revolution had its seedy and rowdy side, but it also had vibrance going for it, day and night.

            1. re: DoctorChow

              I don't think Ave Revo has had a vibrancy period since the 40s ended.

              There was nothing even remotely vibrant or enchanting about it. I like the way TJ is evolving now compared to how it was when I was growing up (in SD) and visiting.

              Yes, the more interesting dining is in areas other than Ave Revo, but then the more interesting dining in SD is in areas other than the Gaslamp and downtown, no?

              1. re: DiningDiva

                Hmmm...I think I have a losing hand here.

                Maybe the word I was grasping for wasn't "vibrant". Maybe "lively" is closer. I liked that about it. Really did. I would never use the word "enchanting" to describe it, though (and didn't).

                I do remember having had some decent meals in the "Av Revo" area, some just off the main strip, some on. Nothing memorable enough to name a name, but good. Now, nothing but Ceaser's.

                Well, I really don't want to argue about it. I think we can both agree that it will be great if that area succeeds in its revitalization effort.

                1. re: DoctorChow

                  Ha, if by 'lively' you mean crazy drunk adolescents hanging out the windows of music-thumping beer and too many shots of tequila bars, then lively it was--at least in the 80s, when I lived in Tijuana.

                  The only vaguely decent meal I remember was at La Especial, which I believe has been closed for quite a while.

                  Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                  1. re: cristina

                    Well, I liked it then, whatever it was, for what it was.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Javier Plascencia has the right idea: TJ needs to bootstrap its restaurant scene into the public awareness, and this kind of article helps.