California’s ‘3rd largest city’ sits completely empty in eerie pictures with failed grand plans leaving roads to nowhere

California’s ‘3rd largest city’ sits completely empty in eerie pictures with failed grand plans leaving roads to nowhere

THOUGH this ghost town has not yet broken 15,000 residents in 65 years, the town’s people remain hopeful that it could grow to the size of Los Angeles.

Ghostly photographs of a planned city in the desert, named California City, have revealed the failed vision of sociology professor, Nathan Mendelsohn.

An eerie street with a culdesac that was never built upon in the ghost town of California City, a city built in the desert about 100 miles north of Los Angeles
An eerie street with a culdesac that was never built upon in the ghost town of California City, a city built in the desert about 100 miles north of Los AngelesCredit: AFP
A scattering of houses in California City, a city with a population of under 15,000 residents though it had hopes of reaching 400,000
A scattering of houses in California City, a city with a population of under 15,000 residents though it had hopes of reaching 400,000Credit: AFP
California City had aspirations of being the size of Los Angeles but has not surpassed 15,000 residents in 65 years
California City had aspirations of being the size of Los Angeles but has not surpassed 15,000 residents in 65 yearsCredit: AFP

California City, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, is 203 square miles and the third largest city in California behind LA, at 502 square miles, and San Diego at 342.5 square miles.

However, after 65 years, the population has not surpassed 15,000 residents.

“It was promoted as this extravagant development, but in many ways, it failed spectacularly,” remarked Noritaka Minami, Chicago-based photographer, who first learned about California City while attending graduate school at UC Irvine, reported Wired.

Most of the residents are retirees and nearby workers at the Edwards Air Force base.

The current population is barely a glimpse of the 400,000 Mendelsohn and developers hoped it would be.

Nathan Mendelsohn bought 82,000 acres of dirt in 1956, mapped out a whole city including streets and neighborhoods, and hoped that people would purchase lots and build homes and businesses, stated Wired.

These plans came at a time when real estate was booming post-war.

When he bought Mendiburu & Rudnick Ranch near Mojave, California, he realized the ranch had 11 water wells that never seemed to run dry, stated East Kern Historical Museum Society.

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Though this was a great selling point, the city never took off.

Mendelsohn soon learned that people didn’t want to live in a dust bowl in the middle of the desert, miles from the nearest highway, and hours from the closest city.

However, when the concept for the city was pitched, it drew people in immediately.

The city took about a year to design, with planners envisaging a downtown center that could accommodate 100,000 people, and six satellite suburbs holding between 30,000 to 50,000 residents, stated Professor Shannon Starkey, associate professor of architecture at the University of San Diego told SFGATE.

The city was set to have a golf course and park with a 20-acre artificial lake, similar to Central Park in New York City.

Photographs of California City show these two features have been built.

Though the population had years of steady population growth, it was nothing close to what Mendelsohn dreamed.

As the population grew, so did a daunting issue— water from the never-ending wells started to run out and water vouchers from California became more expensive.

Mendelsohn’s dream of an LA-like city never came to fruition, but the city still has passionate residents who enjoy its ghostly peculiarities.

In the 1990s, the Corrections Corporation of America opened a prison nearby, producing many jobs for locals.

The influx of jobs turned the city’s lakefront property into a bustling area that could rival any American suburb, expressed All That’s Interesting.

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California City still has control over the vast wastelands around its civilized center and in 2010, Wasteland Weekend, a festival associated with Mad Max began in the surrounding area.

Though this city boasts a small population, locals are passionate about their home and envision a surge in population.

California City had streets and roads, some with names and signs, but no people or buildings in the middle of the Mojave desert
California City had streets and roads, some with names and signs, but no people or buildings in the middle of the Mojave desertCredit: AFP

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