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New Exhibition Shows A Lost Tijuana

A photo by Harry Crosby from the exhibit

Above: A photo by Harry Crosby from the exhibit "Tijuana 1964: The Photography of Harry Crosby," on display at the La Jolla Historical Society.

Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

In 1964, Harry Crosby had left his job as a science teacher at La Jolla High School to pursue photography full-time when he was given a magazine assignment — photograph parts of Tijuana that went beyond the beaten tourist trail.

Crosby went on to capture more than 700 photographs of a city that’s strikingly familiar in its lively street-scenes, but still mostly foreign to modern viewers. What was a small border city has now become a large metropolis.

"It’s interesting if you visit today what was there in 1964 and what has evolved and changed," said Heath Fox, the executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society, where the photos will be on display from Feb. 8 through May. "The city has grown tremendously. The population in 1964 was about 235,000. Today it’s 1.8 million."

The photos capture a city caught mid-transition from a tourist destination to an industrial powerhouse, with dirt roads leading to informal housing, and new buildings devoted to providing social services to the city’s growing population.

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In one photo, a street vendor reads the newspaper by lamplight, apparently unfazed by Crosby’s gaze.

The show also includes a companion exhibition from young photographers with the group Outside The Lens. Over the summer, the student photographers went to Tijuana to document the city as it is today.

Since their limited initial publication in the sixties, the photos have found new life in recent years. They’ve been embraced and displayed on both sides of the border.

The photographer, now in his 90s, plans on attending the shows opening Friday night.

"I don’t think he thought the photographs were really going to have a big life after that, the way they did," Fox told KPBS. "At the time he thought the magazine would pick the ones they liked and that would be the end of it. Wasn’t the case though."

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Photo of Max Rivlin-Nadler

Max Rivlin-Nadler
Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover the border, which includes everything from immigration to border politics to criminal justice issues. I'm interested in how the border impacts our daily lives and those of our neighbors, especially in ways that aren't immediately clear to us.

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