Friday, July 20, 2012


The Owl Bar (El Tecolote) in Baja California, Mexico, was a popular destination for U.S. residents even before Prohibition. The Owl featured a casino, dance hall, a brothel, and of course lots of alcohol. Cocaine and opium were also commonly available. Mexicali was one of a number of the centers for vice tourism just across the Mexican border from the United States. Even before Prohibition, efforts to abate prostitution in California sent some of the red-light business across the border.

Not surprisingly, many of the most interesting stories relate to the brothel and its 104 rooms. Andrew Grant Wood wrote about Mexicali and El Tecolote/ The Owl in his book, On the Border: Society and Culture between the United States and Mexico. According to Wood, the prostitutes represented a variety of ethnicities and races, but the customers were segregated by race. There was a section for white customers and a separate section for non-white customers. It would also appear that once the prostitutes were there, they were not free to leave. A number of newspapers in the United States covered the story of the 1920 fire that ravaged The Owl and sent scantily-clad prostitutes fleeing from the building. The prostitutes dispersed after that.

A federal mandate forced the closure of The Owl in 1922, however an $80,000 donation to Mexican General Rodriguez allowed for an extension of their gambling permits, under the new name, The ABW Club. The operation closed completely in 1936.

The card below shows two of Mexicali's breweries. You can read more about Cerveceria de Mexicali on The Real Tijuana Blog and about Cervezeria Azteca, which moved to the United States and became Aztec Brewing.

Here are the backs of the cards in the same order.


  1. Funny--those two buildings look exactly the same! Interesting story.

  2. Great post! Tijuana was a popular destination during Prohibition, especially with movie stars and mobsters! It was once dubbed Satan's Playground!

  3. Casino, dance hall and 104 room brothel in a one-story building that looks to be about 80' x 80'- be afraid, be very afraid... I thought the brewery card was a stereographic one at first glance because the buildings are so similar, guess that's just how you built a brewery on a corner in Mexicali in the early 20th century.

  4. Das erinnert mich an den Casino Ballroom aus den Blues Brothers ;0)
    Deine japanische Postkarte von gestern finde ich übrigens ganz bezaubernd



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