This Abandoned Suburb Is The Third Largest City In California
Abandoned suburbs are a new phenomenon, destined to become dystopian slums, strange perturbations forming on the outermost rims of our cities. But what of suburbs that failed equally spectacularly because they were never even built in the first place?
In the desert, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is a place called California City. Founded in 1958 by a real estate developer named Nat Mendelsohn, California City was intended to be the state’s next great metropolis. The dream faded quickly. Among the reasons why it has never become a normal city are that in clearing the area for development it lead to an increase in dust storms.
Now, the "third largest" city in California is an empty mirage of suburbia in the middle of nowhere. Seen on a map, hundreds of miles of named streets cut through the desert area known as California City, ending in cul-de-sacs, and looking much like a large suburban community. It is by this metric of its geographical size, that California City can lay claim to being the third largest city in California. However, on closer inspection one quickly notices something missing: houses.
There is absolutely nothing lining these streets, no houses, no electric grid, nothing. The roads form an empty ghost-grid, a mirage of suburbia still waiting to be filled. Seen from above it looks almost like the remnants of some ancient culture, ritual lines cut in the desert.
California City has become something much more interesting - an optical training system for Air Force pilots and skydivers, as well as an oddly beautiful example of misguided optimism. It is now a spatial anomaly, an unintentional piece of monumental land art, perhaps destined to someday be as archaeologically mysterious as Stonehenge.