As the debate over immigration policy in the United States looms continuously in the halls of American government, the San Diego History Center has opened a new photographic exhibition titled The Border: A Line That Divides, exploring the evolution of the San Ysidro border crossing. Two border towns—Tijuana and San Diego—bestride the busiest land-border crossing on the planet, though it hasn’t always been that way. The buildup at the border has been gradual, but pronounced, as have the attitudes and perceptions that fuel it.

The San Ysidro Port of Entry has grown in size, scope, and traffic since its creation in 1848 when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the current 1,954 miles of border. At the San Ysidro crossing, the Tijuana River was the dividing line and crossing went through the river. As times changed, the border evolved into a militarized, high-secutiry crossing handling millions of travelers and tons of freight each year and about 420,000 vehicle crossings each week. The History Center has tapped into its photograph collection for historic images, as well as collaborating with contemporary photographers Alejandro Tamayo (tamayomedia.com) and our photo technician, Natalie Fiocre, to bring evocative and retrospective encounters in the gallery. Focusing exclusively on the crossing at San Ysidro, the exhibition invites the visitor to look back in time and encourages a look forward at larger questions associated with immigration locally and internationally as well.