California’s third-largest city by area is an urban-planning disaster, a sprawl of empty grids that aspired to become a megacity—and failed. But as the desert works to reclaim the land, it’s become a mecca of another kind.
As most of you readers know, this is where I live. Here is a story from Mental Floss that details it.
This story originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of mental_floss magazine.
“It was June in the Mojave desert and the sun was blistering. The land around me was empty, scorched, and flat, dotted by brush and the occasional piece of windswept trash. Judging by the map, the intersection where I’d stopped was a busy crossroads between two major thruways. But when I shifted into park in the middle of the road, no one honked. No one looked at me funny. I hadn’t seen another car in an hour at least.
It was probably the safest intersection in America to pull over and take a nap.
According to the map, I was surrounded by cul-de-sacs and neighborhoods. In reality, there was nothing but sand and more sand—and roads. Endless roads. Roads in all directions, marked by white fence posts and the occasional lonely pole. Some were paved. Some were dirt. Some had long ago been reclaimed by the encroaching sand.
California City, California, is the third-largest city by area in America’s third-largest state, and most of it barely even qualifies as a ghost town—a ghost town needs people to have lived there first.
California City is a ghost grid”