Robert Eisenstadt's
Antique Gambling Chips &  Gambling Memorabilia Web Site

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My email address:  chipe@ix.netcom.com
 

  

MAIN AGUA CALIENTE PAGE:
Agua Caliente Hotel and  Casino, Tijuana, Mexico (1928 - 1935)
 Gambling Chips -- those I need and those I can trade or sell.
 Historical tidbits, photos, postcards and artifacts.



Agua5Logo010714.jpg  


SECOND AGUA CALIENTE PAGE: click here to go to the SECOND AGUA CALIENTE page for more pictures of the Agua Caliente resort buildings from different perspectives, Modern-day gambling, Sports Book, Estadio (Stadium) Caliente, Hollywood stars at the resort, etc.


TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS PAGE -- LINKS TO PARTS BELOW:
Part A. Brief introduction to Agua Caliente
Part B. All the Agua Caliente chips that were issued
Part C. Chips I need and have for sale and trade
Part D. History and facts about Agua Caliente
Part E. Photos, postcards, ariel views, and tourist maps

Part F. Souveniers, artifacts and brochures of the resort




AguaJibJabA123013.jpg
Note that this animated cartoon JibJab eGreeting Card is made with Agua Caliente chips
for the musicians faces!!!  After you click the picture, you may have to wait up to a minute for the
video to download!




PART A: Brief Introduction to Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
   

   
Agua Caliente hotel entrance is shown in the left postcard, and the casino entrance is shown in the right postcard. They were separate buildings at the resort (as shown on the sketch maps just below and in Part E on this page).  Note that it is the gothic Mission-style structure of the hotel entrance that adorns the crest and seal casino chips, as pictured above on three chips.


AguaCalMap121513.jpg
The best sketch layout map of the resort is below --  click here to see it.

BRIEF HISTORY OF AGUA CALIENTE: "From 1919 to 1933, alcohol, casinos, prostitution and horse race betting were all forbidden or tightly restricted in California,  and all were easily available in Tijuana, Mexico.  Agua Caliente, Tijuana, was opened in 1928.  It lay only six miles South of the Border, less than 20 miles from San Diego, accessible by train, a one hour plane ride from Los Angeles.  It covered 655 acres and cost about $10 million at the time.  It became the most lavish and popular resort in the Western Hemisphere, a vacation destination for the Hollywood elite, other celebrities and ordinary Americans.  The place had everything, and everything was first-rate: 500-room hotel, extensive casino, the richest golf and horse-racing prizes in the world, health spa, hot springs, an "olympic size" swimming pool, health clinics, golf putting course, horseback riding, deep sea fishing, wild game hunting, horse racing and greyhound race tracks, gardens and tropical aviary, bungalows, private radio station, airport facility and railroad link.  All this came to an end with the legalization of casino gambling in Nevada in 1931; the repeal in 1933 of Prohibition's 18th Amendment in the U.S.;  the legalization of gambling at California racetracks in 1933 and the building of the lavish Santa Anita racetrack in 1934; and, finally and most important, the criminalization of gambling in Mexico in 1935."


PART B: the Chips Issued by Agua Caliente
B1: Chip orders from the U. S. Playing Card Co. ( of Cincinnati, Ohio, who manufactured
and sold these chips) to Agua Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico.
 

(Shown below are actual chips, which were holed and stitched to the page.  The white labels show who ordered the chips, where they
were shipped to, the date of the order, and sometimes the quantities ordered.  Not every chip in an order
was shown. I have not scanned every
re-order page I have of these chips.  And the USPC Co. pages show only sample orders, so
they are not necessarily complete.  
The Baja California Co. was the name under which the Agua Caliente enterprise was legally incorporated.  
These shipping records were kept in the U S Playing Card Co's. museum in Cincinnati.)
The records below are in chronological order.


AC_NoNumberUSPC.jpg
May 22, 1928 ~ Baja Calif Co ~ no-table-number AC (Agua Caliente) roulette chips



May 22, 1928 ~ Baja Calif Co ~ JC (owner James Crofton) and CH (unidentified).  Crofton ran the gambling of the Foreign Club,
an older gambling hall in Tijuana.




May 22, 1928 ~ Baja Calif Co ~ BL (owner Baron Long).  Long came to Los Angeles as a fight promoter,
and then invested in bars and major hotels.



Agua_WG.jpg
May 22, 1928 ~ Baja Calif ~ WG (owner Wirt G. Bowman)
.  Bowman owned and operated the Foreign (gambling) Club in
Tijuana, a rancher in Mogales, Mexico, and a banker in Nogales, Arizona, and was the primary financier
for American projects in Mexico.



AguaCal_5alone.jpg
November 26, 1928 ~ Agua Caliente Co ~ $5 chips


AguaNoDenom10_13.jpg
November 26, 1928 ~ Agua Caliente Co. ~ No-denomination chip


AguaCal_CL.jpg
September 18, 1929 ~ Agua Caliente Co. ~  CL (or LC) chips unknown ID




Sept 18, 1929 and Oct 16, 1929 ~ Agua Caliente Co ~ $25, $100 and $500 chips 

 

  AguaCal_USPC_Card2.jpg
Sept 19, 1929 ~ Agua Caliente Co ~ table number AC roulette chips



AguaEC_USPCCd.jpg
Sept 19, 1929 ~ Agua Caliente Co ~ EC chips (unidentified


B2: All Known Agua Caliente Casino and Roulette Chips


casino chips





no image
no image

Owners' chips: Baron Long


James Crofton

WG_chip.jpg
Wirt G. Bowman
AguaCJPurp091413.jpg
AC041512.jpg
roulette chips

AC_yellow.jpg
AC_white.jpg
AC_Green.jpg
light green

AC_Brown.jpg
dark brown
AC-Purp_091513
no image
no image
AC_13_041512.jpg
roulette chip (table 13)
CH_240.jpg
unknown identification; ordered
same date and place as Agua Caliente chips
(see below)
no image
no image


AguaJockeyClubB.jpg
Used at the Jockey Club at the Agua Caliente racetrack, owned by the Agua Caliente Hotel-Casino
AguaJockeyClubA.jpg
Reverse sides of the chips


  ¶ Thanks for the scans: Roy Klein, $500 one; Richard Hanover, the first five; Me, the others!
The above AC chips (with no table number),  are a recent identification; the USPC Co records show it was ordered by
Baja California Co, S.A. [owners of Agua Caliente], Tijuana, Mexico in 1928. Part of USPC Co order page is pictured near top of this page in Part B.
The AC13 roulette chip, I show because it is missing from picture below.
¶ The CH (or HC) chip is a mystery as to ID, but is probably related to Agua Caliente as it was ordered on the same date (May 22, 1928)
and to the same place ( Baja California Co, S.A. , Tijuana) as the other Agua Caliente chips.  The USPC Co. order card
is pictured near the top of this page in Part B. (Click here to see the manufacturing error on the reverse side this particular CH chip of mine.)
The WG (or GW) chip is determined to be the personal poker chip of the third "Border Baron," Wirt G. Bowman.  See the USPC Co order card near the top of this page.  
It was also ordered on the same date (May 22, 1928) and to the same place ( Baja California Co, S.A. , Tijuana) as the chips to the other two"Border Barons,"
James Crofton (JC) and Baron Long (BL).  Esteemed Agua Calient collectors have confirmed this attribution to Bowman.


  


roulette chips w/ table numbers -- Roy Klein's roulette chips.



 

PART C: the Agua Caliente chips I have
for Sale, Need and have for Trade

Agua_Barons121613_0001.jpg

C1: Agua Caliente Chips I have for Sale or Trade

Picture
120 pixel
Name of Chip
Description
Sales
Price

AguaPinkOne010414.jpg

Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
roulette chip, table #1


¶ pink
¶ fine condition
¶ 1929, shipped to Agua Caliente Co, Tijuana, Mexico.  Note the USPC Co shipping-sample record above.  
¶ large, famous hotel-casino-race track resort, frequented by the elite of Hollywood.  Opened 1928; closed 1935, when gambling was outlawed in Mexico.  Prospered largely because drinking and gambling was outlawed in the US during Prohibition, and Tijuana was just a stone's throw from the US-Mexico border, so very close to San Diego by car and Los Angeles by air. The Agua Caliente resort remarkably had the world's richest golf tournament prizes and the richest racehorse purses in the world.  It was the most lavish resort in the Western US, and rivaled the best in the world (gardens, health spa, Olympic swimming pool, hot springs, etc).  The resort also had its own private radio station and airport facility [and railroad link].  It's guests were among the most famous and rich celebrities in the world. No exaggeration!



$35
1AC_4Yellow.jpg


Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
roulette chip, table #4

¶ yellow
¶ fine condition.



$40
1AC_8_Red.jpg


Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico,
roulette chip, table #8

¶ red
¶ fine conditon.



$30
1AC_12_Brown.jpg


Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico,
roulette chip, table #12

¶ brown
¶  one chip is fine on one side, and small burn mark on other side.
¶ one chip has a small burn mark one one side, other side is fine except for very tiny nick on one edge spot.





$30
1AC_14_red.jpg


Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
roulette chip, table #14

¶ red
¶ fine condition



$40


Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico,
roulette chip, table #15

¶ yellow roulette chip for table #15.
¶ 1929, shipped to Agua Caliente Co, Tijuana, Mexico.  Note the USPC Co shipping-sample record above.  




$35
Agua_AC_Gr_120.jpg


Agua Caliente roulette chip (no-table-number) - green
SOLD
¶ green.  This is my last one.
¶ as the USPC Co. order-sample cards above testify, these were part of the same original May 22, 1928 order to Baja California Co., Tijuana, Mexico.
SOLD



$75
SOLD
AguaCalAC_blu.jpg


Agua Caliente roulette chip (no-table-number)- blue
¶ blue
¶ as the USPC Co. order-sample cards above testify, these were part of the same original May 22, 1928 order to Baja California Co., Tijuana, Mexico.



$45









BL -- Personal chip of one of the owners of the famous Agua Caliente Hotel Casino, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico -- Baron Long

¶ yellow, only 9 chips left.
¶ shipped to the Baja California Co., Tijuana, Mexico, May 22, 1928, the very same date, and the adjoining invoice number, as the JC chips.
¶ This BL chip, and the CJ chip below, are two of my most awesome discoveries! The BL chip was the private chip of one of the famous three "Border Barons" who built, owned and ran the Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Hotel-Casino  -- Baron Long.  He was a prominent hotel-night club owner in the U.S. as well, as evidenced by this match book cover. (That was his birth name! Probably why the three owners were called "The Border Barons."  The term was applied just to the three owners of the Agua Caliente.  The third one was Wirt G. Bowman; no personal chips found for him.)  Very lengthy biographical article on Baron Long here
 
¶ The US Playing Card Co. records (pictured above) show that both chips (BL and JC)  were shipped on May 22, 1928 to the Baja California Co., Tijuana, Mexico, which was owned by the "Border Barons." (The "Border Barons" were the three men who built, owned and ran Agua Caliente in Tijuana and lesser gambling establishments along the California-Mexico border in the 1920's-30's. Two of them were James Crofton ("JC" chip) and Baron Long ("BL" chip)).  

Prof. Paul Vanderwood, the author of "Satan's Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America's Greatest Gaming Resort [Agua Caliente]" (the book is available at Amazon.com), has written me and confirmed that the JC- and BL-initial chips were personal chips of the two Border Barons. He says,
"The Baja California Co. would be the name under which the Agua Caliente enterprise was legally incorporated. ... ... The  Border Barons founded and incorporated the Baja California Co. ...  ...  On the chips, "JC" is most definitely the baron, James Crofton, who was in charge of the casino operation at the spa.  "BL" was Baron Long [his birth name!], also one of the entrepreneurs.... ...   Both men were vain promoters beyond belief.  And they did hold big stake, poker games for friends and others in their homes.  Or, as I said, they organized and clandestinely staged illegal games on the U.S. side--clandestinely, ha.  They paid law enforcement a nice sum to look the other way."









$95


JC -- Personal chip of James Crofton, one of the three "Border Barons," owners of Agua Caliente
¶ yellow and a lavender chip.  For both only 1 chip left.
¶ shipped to the Baja California Co, Tijuana, Mexico, May 22, 1928, the very same date, and the adjoining invoice number, as the BL chip above.
¶ This was the the private chip of one of the famous three "Border Barons" who built, owned and ran the Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Hotel-Casino -- James Crofton.  See what is written above for the BL chip.  Also be sure to note, above, the picture of the USPC Co. records for this JC chip.  
¶ Note: I found only about a dozen of each chip --BL's and JC's -- in July 2010.




$149

$5 Agua Caliente casino chip

¶ the $5 orange-yellow pictured here.
¶ large, famous hotel-casino resort, frequented by the elite of Hollywood.  Opened 1928; closed 1935......shipped to Agua Caliente Co., Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 26, 1928 (see US Playing Card Co. shipping record in picture above).



$30


$5 Agua Caliente Jockey Club
SOLD
¶ "Agua Caliente Jockey Club," on one side; "$5.00" on the reverse.
¶ good condition, though hot-stamp inscription is worn some from use.
¶ the Jockey Club, a gambling venue, was owned and run by the Agua Caliente Hotel-Casino complex.  It was attached to the Jockey Club building, which was next to the Grandstand at the famous Agua Caliente Racetrack.
SOLD



$25
SOLD

$25 Agua Caliente casino chip
¶ $25 black
¶ fine condition.
¶ see US Playing Card Co. shipping record picture above, showing 1929 date.




$50

$100 white Agua Caliente casino chip
¶ $100 white
¶ excel condition
¶ 1929, per USPC Co. shipping records.



$145

$100 green Caliente casino chip

¶ $100 green
¶ excel condition
¶ 1929, per USPC Co. shipping records,




$105w3



C2: Agua Caliente Chips I Need
(
mainly any chip from roulette tables 5 and 9; and the $500 chip, seen just below)

 
 

 I already have these chips from Agua Caliente, so I need what you do not see on the list:

Agua Caliente casino chips:

No Denomination, black
$5 orange
$25 black
$100 white
$100 green

Agua Caliente roulette chips (numbered):
table #1 -- pink
table #2 -- pink, yellow
table #3 -- pink, brown
table #4 -- yellow, pink
table #5
table #6 -- pink
table #7 -- yellow
table #8 -- pink, red
table #9
table #10 -- brown (poor condition)
table #11 -- brown
table #12 -- brown
table #13 -- white
table #14 -- pink, red, blue
table #15 -- yellow, brown
table #16 -- blue, brown, yellow

AC roulette (no number, just AC):
yellow, blue, brown, white, green, lavender

Owners' initials chips:
JC in yellow and purple
BL in yellow
WG in brown
CH in red.


  

PART D: History and Facts about Agua Caliente

(You are in for a real treat if you click the YouTube video links near the bottom of the box just below.
You'll see two clips from the "In Caliente" musical comedy movie and Phar Lap's most famous horse race, the 1932 Agua Caliente Handicap.)

Paul J. Vanderwood, author of "Satan’s Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America’s Greatest Gaming Resort" (available at Amazon.com):   "Satan’s Playground [Agua Caliente environs] is the extraordinary story of clever and unscrupulous bordello, casino, race track and cabaret owners nicknamed Border Barons who under the pressure of 1920s Prohibition [and anti-gambling laws in California, even at racetracks] reestablished themselves in bawdy Mexican border towns like Tijuana. There American high and low society relished their offerings, and the Barons became celebrated, multi- millionaires. 
The gem in the Barons’ crown was an elegant gambling spa known as Agua Caliente, heralded as the Monte Carlo and Deauville of the Western Hemisphere. Movie czars and stars, sports notables, diplomats, maharajas, ranking politicians and famous aristocrats mingled there in luxurious surroundings along with more ordinary patrons anxious to see and be seen with such luminaries.   Mobsters also dropped in on the scene. Bugsy Siegel visited and imagined a similar plush resort on what became the Las Vegas Strip." All this came to an end with the repeal of Prohibition and the relaxing of gambling at California racetracks, the development of gambling in Nevada, and, finally, the criminalization of gambling in Mexico in 1935."

From the Journal of San Diego History is this lengthy historical article  "The Wild Frontier Moves South -- U.S. Entrepreneurs and the Growth of Tijuana's Vice Industry, 1908-1935" here.


Agua Caliente Historical Society (http://aguacalientehistoricalsociety.com/agua_caliente_1929-1935):  "The Agua Caliente racetrack (1929-1935) was built at a cost of $2-million, a huge amount at that time.  At the first race meet, Agua Caliente hosted the world's richest race, the $140,000 Agua Caliente Handicap, won by 1928 Preakness winner, Victorian."

Wikipedia: "The Agua Caliente Casino and Resort opened in June 1928 in the Mexican city of Tijuana, Baja California. It was a lavish resort that included a casino, [world famous health] spa, championship golf and tennis facilities, its own airstrip, and lots of entertainment. Stylistically, the resort was an amalgam of Mexican colonial, California mission, and neo-Islamic designs that ranged from mosaic minarets, to cozy guest bungalows, to steaming Turkish baths. It was designed by 19-year-old architect Wayne McAllister and built by Baron H. Long, Wirt G. Bowman and James N. Crofton [, the famous "Border Barons"]. Some sources note the fourth partner was Abelardo L. Rodríguez, Military Commander and Governor of Baja California, and future Mexican President.  The $2.5 million Agua Caliente racetrack opened in December 1929.
Drinking, gambling and horse racing were illegal in the neighboring U.S. state of California, so many wealthy Americans and Hollywood celebrities flocked to Agua Caliente. The actress Rita Hayworth was discovered there while performing in a show. The films "In Caliente" and "The Champ" were filmed on location there. The highlight of the opulent casino was the Gold Room [pictured above], where patrons could only bet using gold chips, with a rumored $500 minimum wager. Bugsy Siegel cited Agua Caliente as his inspiration for building the resort on what became the Las Vegas Strip."

Lawrence D. Taylor in the Journal of San Diego History (https://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/2002-3/frontier.htm):  "The Agua Caliente resort cost approximately $10,000,000, an enormous sum of money for that period. The first stage of the project comprised a 500 room hotel, casino, health spa, and café, inaugurated on June 23, 1928. The second stage consisted of an "olympic size" swimming pool, health clinics, 18 hole golf course, putting course, horse racing and greyhound race tracks, gardens and tropical aviary, bungalows, laundry, and workshop areas completed at the end of December 1929. The resort also had its own private radio station and airport facility [and railroad link]. "

Time Magazine's Sports section, Jan. 4, 1932: "Four hours by car, an hour and a half by plane from Hollywood, Agua Caliente is the most elaborate pleasure resort in North America. .. ....
Agua Caliente's golf tournament—first prize $15,000—is the richest in the world. Even more of an attraction than these for Hollywood plutocrats has been the racetrack, which was constructed at a cost of $2,500,000 by removing part of a mountain. The Annual Agua Caliente Handicap, which was to have been run on March 20 and for which  the great Australian horse Pharlap was entered this year, is the richest—$150,000 —horse race in the world." [The Agua Caliente track was the site of several industry firsts, including starting gates, safety helmets, and “pick six” wagering.]

aguacalientehistoricalsociety (http://aguacalientehistoricalsociety.com/agua_caliente_1929-1935)
: "The rich Agua Caliente Handicap lured the famous New Zealander, Phar Lap for its 1932 renewal. Phar Lap made the 12,000-mile journey from Australia to the United States earlier that year. Phar Lap ran into the history books as one of racing's top horses with his dramatic win, as he circled the entire field from dead last with ¾’s of a mile to go and held off American Derby winner, Reveille Boy. "  [Click  here to see a newsreel of that famous race at the Agua Caliente Racetrack, courtesy of  YouTube! ]

Movies filmed on location at Agua Caliente: click here (or here) to see the trailer to the Pat O'Brien-Dolores del Rio-Busby Berkeley Hollywood movie "In Caliente" (1935), which was filmed on location at the Agua Caliente and shows a brief scene of the casino near the start of the trailer. ....  ... Another clip from the movie -- great fun but not of the Agua Caliente casino, for sure! -- Dolores del Rio's energetic "Muchacha" number, a' la Busby Berkeley.  It must be a stage show within the movie: click here and enjoy!  (Clicking that link lands you on a page where  you choose one of two video clips: scenes from the Dolores del Rio "Muchacha" number in the 1935 movie "In Caliente," and Newsreel of the racehorse Phar Lap winning the Auga Caliente Handicap.) (Or click here for the Dolores del Rio clip.)... ... Or click here for 13 minutes of pure music video from the movie of Musical Interludes from "In Caliente," 1935, with Phil Regan, The De Marcos and Winifred Shaw (but no Dolores del Rio) featuring the songs "To Call You My Own" and "The Lady In Red" ....   Here is another YouTube clip: good first few minutes of still pictures (ariel view of the resort; close-ups of everything including the famous Gold Bar room), piano music and Spanish words.  I urge you to vamoose at the 3:22 minute mark to avoid the boring remainder of the clip -- the filling of the resort's Olympic swimming pool! .. ..... There are a number of YouTube videos about the old resort, mainly in Spanish, for example herehereherehereherehere, and here.  I suggest you go to the YouTube site and use their search engine to find more videos. ... Here is a particulaly nice one with plenty of clear photos and music, put on YouTube in 2014.  Unfortunately the pictures are not dated, not identified, and mixed up and repeated.

Tijuana Tourist site
(packed full of information, maps, pictures and history) explains it this way: "By the time prohibition took effect in 1920, enterprising gringos had been coming "down" to Tijuana to get together with other enterprising Mexicans in order to make money off of other gringos who more and more were coming to Tijuana not as "excursionists" looking for Mexican culture, but as extraterritorial sinners who wanted to buy, legally, what was illegal "on the other side" - a process which had begun with bullfights and gambling, then advanced into horse-racing and prostitution. ... ... This period coincided almost perfectly with the "Roaring Twenties," but dragged on into the middle thirties.  Although alcoholic beverages became legal once again in the United States in 1933, Tijuana was somewhat insulated against the great depression by the continuing gambling and horse-racing activities.  At least until 1938 [?], when casinos were banned by Presidential decree.  Between these two bookend years, the beginning of the dry law in the States in 1920, and the ending of "legal" gambling in Tijuana in 1938, this little border city experienced its "golden age."



Above collage is from this great site: inoldlasvegas.com/strip.  All these pictures are from postcards showing Agua Caliente views.  I've numbered them from 1 to 13: (1) "A Corner of the Patio and Corridor" of the hotel; (2) "Dog Races"; (3) casino "Gold Bar"; (4) "Campanile, Chimes Tower and Golf Club"; (5) Patio Dining area of the casino where La Fuento del Estrella (Fountain of the Little Star) is;  (6) hotel entrance; (7) casino entrance; (8) "Swimming Pool;" (9) "Swimming Pool and Bath House" and Minaret; (10) Bath House and Pool; (11) hotel entrance, again; (12) racetrack; and (13) "Interior of Casino and Famous Gold Bar".

Among the interesting things mentioned at the inoldlasvegas site are:
¶ "In 1927, wealthy nightclub owner Baron Long and owner of the famous U.S.Grant Hotel in San Diego, formed a 4 man partnership to build a giant casino-hotel complex, named Agua Caliente," less than 20 miles from San Diego CA.

¶ "The architect hired to design Agua Caliente was an astoundingly young nineteen year old named Wayne McAllister. After designing Agua Caliente, McAllister gained fame for designing nightclubs and restaurants in Southern California. MacAllister was the creator of the circular drive-in restaurants in So Cal such as the 'Pig 'n' Whistle', Simon's, Herberts, and Van De Kamps. He also designed Lawry's Restaurant, the Cinegrill, and the Biltmore Bowl auditorium (an early location used for the Academy Award ceremonies). McAllister also designed the 1949 Bob's Big Boy Restaurant and the drive-ins in its chain. .. .... Most importantly, Wayne McAllister would later go on to play an important role in Las Vegas development thru his knowledge of roadside architecture and casino design. McAllister would design the first Strip casino-motel ever built (the El Rancho) in 1940. That same year he designed Downtown Las vegas' El Cortez Hotel. In 1949 he created plans for the most modern casino in Las Vegas (The Desert Inn) and two years later designed the Sands. In 1955, he was again hired to create the Downtown Vegas' first high-rise hotel, the Fremont Hotel and Casino. ... ....  Just as Las Vegas took its name from a watering spring [Meadows], so did Auga Caliente [hot water (springs)]. ... ....  [Agua Caliente]  was a rarity in architectural design for public entertainment. ... [It] opened as the one of the most lavish public entertainment facilities of its time. Auga Caliente included a casino, luxurious guest bungalows, a spa, Turkish baths and two ballrooms, all designed in a combination of Mexican Colonial, California Mission stylings. The resort [had] an airstrip, championship golf and tennis facilities. ... .... Two years after the casino opened, McAllister designed the $2.5 million dollar Agua Caliente Racetrack. The racetrack hosted the world's richest race with its $140,000 grand prize and was known throughout the world for being the home for some of the most famous horse races in history with Phar Lap and Sea Biscuit. The racetrack opened four years before Southern California's Santa Anita Racetrack and was considered the most important track in the west. ... ... Auga Calient was a tremendous success and hugely popular with wealthy Americans and celebrities. Quite unexpectedly, Mexico's President, Lázaro Cárdenas, outlawed gambling in 1935. The resort was closed and became the property of the Mexican government."




PART E: Photos, Postcards, Ariel Views,
and Maps of the Resort
(and links to pictures on my Second Agua Caliente Page)


AguaCHotelEd121513.jpg
HOTEL: Early Photo of the Agua Caliente Hotel entrance, 1928 or 1929.  More pictures of the Hotel building at my Seconday Agua Caliente page here.



Real Photo Postcard of the Agua Caliente Hotel Entrance, c. 1930's.
For another real photo postcard view of the entrance, but more close-up, click here.
For pictures of the Hotel courtyard, click here.



CASINO: Real Photo Postcard of Agua Caliente Casino entrace, wishing well in front.  Another RPPC here.
More pictures of the Casino here.


AguaC_Casinoo121513.jpg
Casino entrance, which is open here, and famous Wishing Well.




Interior of casino (in the foreground) and the famous Gold Bar room in the rear (beyond the low yellow "fence")



CHIMES TOWER: Real Photo Postcard of the "Old Tower of Agua Caliente," famous chimes tower landmark on entrance road to the resort.
It's location is shown at the lower-left corner of the postcard-map below: click here.
 
 This is a picture of the original Bell Tower, but shortly after the Hotel-Casino was closed down in 1935-37.
After the resort was destroyed, its grounds were used for a very large school. 
The Bell Tower remained in place as a marker for the school.  The sign in the picture says, in Spanish, "School Center, Agua Caliente."

To see a terrific artist's rendition of this tower on another postcard, click here.
The original tower has been destroyed; only a replica exists today:  click here.


RACE TRACK: Early photo of entrance side to Agua Caliente Jockey Club.
(Club House and Grandstand bleachers, and racetrack were on opposite side, seen just below this picture)
.
More pictures of the Racetrack, Jockey Club and Grandstands at my Seconday Agua Caliente page here.



Action side to Agua Caliente Jockey Club: Club House and Grandstand (two separate buildings).


AguaSpa090912.jpg
SPA, POOL AND BATH HOUSE:  More pictures of the Spa, Pool and Bathhouse building at my Seconday Agua Caliente page here.

 

 
GUEST BUNGALOWS: ("private villas") of Agua Caliente resort complex (shown on maps below)
.
Click here to see a real photo postcard of the bungalows.

 

LINKS TO PHOTOS AND OTHER AGUA CALIENTE RESOURCES:  Above are 2 of the some 100 wonderful 1928 black and white photos of the Agua Caliente complex found at this web site: click here and here.   The photo on the left is of the "pool building lobby," and the one on the right is called simply "interiors"ceiling.  My postcard pictures of the spa are here.    Other photos in this collection include  such varied subjects as the Agua Caliente gym, golf club shop, golf club locker room, fountains, entrances, arches, stairways, casino bathroom tile and marble detail, ceilings, barber shop, bungalows, etc.  The photos provide a real feel for the splendor of the resort. ... ..... Other photos here at web site of San Diego History Center. Other SDHC pictures here and here .  Links to other Agua Caliente resources here .  From the Journal of San Diego History is this lengthy historical article  "The Wild Frontier Moves South -- U.S. Entrepreneurs and the Growth of Tijuana's Vice Industry, 1908-1935" here.


 


1929 aeriel view of the Agua Caliente resort.  "A" is the Auto guarage; "B" is Bungalows for guests;  "C" is Casino entrance; "D" is Dog Track
(the famous horse racing track wasn't built  at this time, and will be a short distance below the Dog Track (off this photo); "G" is Golf course; "H" is the Hotel entrance; "P" is where the luxurious  Pool and Spa will be, and to the left (off this photo) is the Aviation field; and "T" is one of two San Diego & Arizona Rail Road Train depots at the resort.

This photo is"from February 1929 featuring Agua Caliente, Tia Juana [spelling then], Mexico, showing the Casino and Hotel with two Maddux Planes in the air. This photo originates from the archives of Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. It measures 8” by 10” and is in excellent condition," went for $300 in July 2010 eBay auction.  ... ... The dog track is at the lower-right  (the $2.5 million dollar Auga Caliente Racetrack is near-by farther to the east). At the left, below the "Baths," is one of the resort's golf courses


AguaPict062214.jpg
"Espadaña" is Spanish for "steeple;" arrow is pointing at the iconic entrance to the hotel.
"Torre de Tijuana" is the equally famous and iconic Bell Tower, entrance to the resort from the main road. Source.


   

"Aeroplane View" postcard, taken from an actual black and white real photo postcard) presents a different angle.  
The buildings on the bottom (note the Minaret) are the Spa, Bath House, Swimming Pool complex).  
The large building on the left is the Hotel.  Uppermost is the Casino building and the guest Bungalows. 


AguaAirVw071814.jpg
Rare postcard -- aerial view of the resort.


 

Colored stetch  --  from this fine web site -- all about past and modern Tijuana.


AguaTrack061612.jpg
Air view of the famous race track -- the Agua Caliente hotel-casino complex is in the background.  
Is that the Minaret in the distance (upper-left), next to the Spa and swimming pool area?  I bought the postcard to scan it; it is for sale.
More maps of the resort at top of this page.


AguaWikiMap022114.jpg
I present this odd-looking map here to draw your attention to this wonderful web page.  Click that link, and you will be introduced  to this Wicki map where a modern Tijuana aeriel map is overlaid over the old Agua Caliente resort complex layout.  Have fun dragging your cursor over the map and clicking those little red boxes to download wonderful pictures and information.  You can also drag the map in different directions, and enlarge and reduce the scale of the map.




movRaceTrk121012.jpg
Stables in the foreground, then the green race track oval, then the Jockey Club and Grandstand.  
In the center I placed two small red dots.  The one on the left is at the famous
"Old Tower of Agua Caliente" (chimes tower landmark),
and the red dot
on the right is at the famous Minaret at the Bathhouse and Pool.


AguaSouv051014.jpg
Tijuana souvenir folder of mine.  Fairly rare.
20 fold-out pictures inside (10 panels w/ pictures of both sides.
(More dog race pictures and discussion beginning here.)


AguaBajaFold051014.jpg
Another souvenier folder of the period.  20 fold-out pictures inside.


aguaCalPC070512.jpg
Cover of Agua Caliente souvenir postcard collection folder of mine.
There are 9 double-sided accordioned postcards inside -- 18 pictures in all.


AguaSmCoverA.jpg
Numbers from sketch layout map just above, for large map below.  (You will have to scroll page right and left to see all the items):
1.  Minaret
2.  Spa, Baths and Pool
3.  Auto garage
4.  Hotel quadrangle and courtyard
5.  Power plant
6.  Casino buildings complex, with dining and entertainment rooms
7.  Guest bungalows
8.  San Diego & Arizona railway line
9.  Dog track.
10.  Championship tennis courts
11.  Famous bell tower
12.  Golf Club House and championship golf course
13.  Airfield
14.  Pitch and Putt golf course
     

Agua300.jpg
Layout of the resort.  Blown-up picture of the above Souvenir Folder cover.   (The picture is probably wider than your monitor, so scroll right and left to see it all.)



From p. 224 of Paul J. Vanderwood's "Satan's Playground."


AguaTravel121813.jpg
Agua Caliente inTijuana, Mexico:  lies only six miles South of the Border, 18 miles from San Diego,
accessible by train, 139 driving miles from Los Angeles, and a one hour plane ride from Los Angeles.


AguaNewspap051114.jpg
The construction of the Agua Caliente Hotel and Resort was featured in this newspaper Jan. 1, 1928.
The Spa-Pool building is on the left, Casino on the right, and Hotel in the center.  (source)
The Hotel started out without the wings and quadrangle in the rear, which were completed the following year.




PART F: Souveniers and Other Artifacts of the Resort: Brochures,
Stock Certificate, Key Fobs, Spoons, Bottle Opener, etc.


 
Advertising tourist poster -- shows the famous landmark Bell Tower, at road entrance to Agua Caliente resort.
AguaMatch062814.jpg  
Matchbook covers showing Baron Long's ownership in prominent hotels including Agua Caliente.  (One has the Agua Caliente logo; the other, the Biltmore logo.)
AguaLug041614.jpg
Luggage label decal -- shows Hotel entrance.



   AguaMtchBk063214.jpg
Matchbook with the iconic Bell Tower on it.
AguaSeaPass091814.jpg
Agua-Caliente Jockey Club Grandstand Guest Pass -- 1932-1933 Season .
Made of metal, 2 x 3-1/2 inches.

 





AguaCalJockClProg.jpg.
Program and chip pictures from Roy Klein.  Chip identification possibilities, clues.
The above green chip is undoubtedly Bowman's as those who knew him referred to him as "WG."
The CJ chip is probably Crofton's, one of the "Border Barons," the opinion of author Prof. Paul Vanderwood, too.


AguaRaceProg051014.jpg AguaPhrLpPrg051014.jpg
Programme of the day PHAR LAP won the Agua Caliente Handicap, March 20th, 1932!!!!
This race was significant as the first and only race run and won by Phar Lap outside of Australia.
This copy is handsigned by jockey Bill Elliot to his trainer Harry Telford, who had remained in Australia. (Source.)
One of the most famous horse races ever run anywhere!  Read about it and see the video of the race here.


AguaGilpin083114.jpg
Gilpin Air Lines serviced the resort from California.  Above is their brochure including the Daily Schedule.  
Elsewhere in the brochure they touted their safety ("Over a million miles without an accident of any kind")
and speed ("cruising speeds of 125 miles per hour").


AguaDeau041414.jpg
Brochure: "America's Deauville -- Where the Door to Romance Opens."  Goes for about $50.


AguaBroch042014.jpg
Another brochure -- it also includes the blue and yellow map near the top of this web page.


AguaStockSm030114.jpg
AguaStockLg030114.jpg
100 shares of stock in the Agua Caliente Company.  The lower picture is an enlargement of the upper-right
corner of the certificate.  Note that the left side is in Spanish and the right in English.  
The hotel entrance is pictured.  It says that the company was organized on July 4, 1927
and reorganized in 1928, the year the resort opened.  
Note the signatures: James Crofton, Secretary, lower-left; and Wirt Bowman, President, lower-right.


AguaCalKeyFoba.jpg

AguaKeyFob.jpg
Two room key fobs from Hotel Agua Caliente; both sides of each are shown.



AguaSpoon.jpg
Sterling Silver mini spoon measuring 3.25 inches in length.  The handle features an embossed image commemorating the Agua Caliente race track.
 The stem has "Tijuana Mex." running down towards the bowl.  The back of the stem is hallmarked with "Sterling" and a maker's mark.
This spoon weighs about 4.4 grams.


AguaBottleOp033014.jpg
Bottle opener.  Approx. 3" long.  I picked this up March 2014 for $30.



AguaFork030314.jpg
Note the "Agua Caliente" engraving in the upper-right.  Gorham Company Silverplate fork.
The fork is marked GM Co. There is a stamped anchor, then the letters EP, then Pat 1926. It is 6 3/4" in length.

It went for $57 plus postage on eBay march 2014. 
(GM Co EP is the trademark by GORHAM MFG. CO. in PROVIDENCE, RI; EP is ELECTROPLATED METAL WARE.)


AguaSilverW041114.jpg
Silverware and glassware from the resort.  From a family whose relatives played in a band there in the 1930s.
All but the tongs have "AC" or "Agua Caliente" on them.  The silverware is marked "Simeon L. & George H. Rogers Company AI."
and "International Silver Co."
 See the picture above this one for more on the G M Co trademark.


AguaForks062414.jpg
"INTERNATIONAL SILVER CO," PATTERN: ROOSEVELT,  SEAFOOD FORKS - 5 7/8,"
ALL ARE STAMPED ON THE BACK: "AGUA CALIENTE."


AguaPlate090214.jpg
Vintage Agua Caliente Silver Charger Plate, Made by Gorham 011817.
  Sept 2014, it went for $163 plus shipping at eBay auction.
Measures 11" across.  Note: Charger plates or service plates are larger plates used during full course dinners or to dress up special events like parties and weddings.
They are not used for food -- the food plates rest atop them.  Note the "AC"-Bldg logo atop the face of the plate in left-hand picture.


AguaAsh090914.jpg
Metal ashtray with built-in matches holder.  Wonderful piece. Note the "AC"-Bldg logo.  Source.


AguaTray071314A.jpg
Beautiful 1930s hand-made SERVING TRAY featuring a photo of the Agua Caliente Casino, a glass surface over dried flowers, sided with
rare Torrey Pine (click here for view of side).
 Probably not offered through the resort, but worth displaying here.  It is 8-3/8" x 5-7/8."
Details are on the label on the back.  It notes, "These trays are hand made of the needles of the Torrey Pine Tree by Mrs M.A. Nicol,
San Diego, Calif. The Torrey Pine was discovered in 1850, named after John Torrey of NY.  It grew in two places in California, almost extinct now."


Please feel free to browse my web site and to email me:
chipe@ix.netcom.com


Click here for more pictures of the Agua Caliente resort buildings from different perspectives, on my Second Agua Caliente web page.



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