Notes from the Mexicali Chinese Underground

Excavating the subterranean history of the city’s Chinese immigrants

La Chinesca, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico


MEXICALI, B.C. – The Chinese shop owner stepped out from behind the 1970’s era cash register. She raised the trapdoor behind her glass display counter, revealing a set of wooden stairs covered with ancient, flaking green paint. The musty smell wafted up from the red-lit basement below, as our group descended into the subterranean world of Mexicali’s early 20th century Chinese population.

It’s a little known fact of Mexico’s history that Mexicali’s first Chinese immigrants chose to settle beneath the city’s streets. And that they built a complex system of basements and tunnels to form an autonomous subterranean community…


About W. Scott Koenig (103 Articles)
San Diego-based lifestyle writer W. Scott Koenig is founder of the blog, author of the book 7 Days in The Valle: Baja California’s Wine Country Cuisine and writes columns for DiningOut San Diego Magazine, and Scott is also the Food Expert for Baja California at (formerly FoodieHub), an international culinary site curated by over 275 experts.

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