The "Monumental Folly" of California City

Created by Nathan Mendelsohn, California City is the state's thrid largest in size but exists mostly in his imagination. Home to 14000 people who inhabit one end of the massive tract, just a corner next to over 185 square miles of empty development.

"The crazy streetscape is alluring. It's a hedge maze made from creosote bush and sagebrush. Deep inside, it's easy to become disoriented. Midweek, you can drive all day and not see another human being. When the air is still, the silence is absolute."

From the air California City is "a ghostly monument to overreach that, from above, looks like a geoglyph left by space aliens." It is evocative in an age of foreclosures and abandoned developments across the country.

"When we think of ruins, we typically think of European castles and churches," Geoff Manaugh, an architectural writer and instructor said. "But the U.S. also has ruins. It's just that they're made of different stuff. In this case, it's the ground itself and what was done to it."

Full Story: A Desert City That Didn't Fan Out

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