Last weekend Vanessa Vobis and I took a trip to California City, CA. Haven’t heard of it? You’re not alone. But it happens to be the 3rd largest city in California by area, causing confusion especially when considering other cities on the list include LA and San Jose. So, why isn’t California City as well known? Although an expansive grid was laid out in the 1950s, very few came, resulting in a small suburban core surrounded by 200+ square miles of uninhabited sprawl.

There are many stories and oddities from the trip that I’ll compile into a post for my Public Spaces series. Until then, below is an intermediate post consisting of the seven tweets from our trip, each annotated by an image. I’m hoping to provide an overview of our California City trip while at the same time trying out Twitter’s new “embed this tweet” feature.

First, some history: Nat Mendelsohn laid out California City in 1958 working towards a 80,000 acre model city that would rival nearby Los Angeles. Ironically, Palmdale and Lancaster (a few miles to the north) presently realize Mendelsohn’s vision as Mojave Desert cities of substance, but even their populations (~100,000) don’t rival the metropolis that he had envisioned. Despite its lack of growth over the last decades, California City is currently experiencing a population increase (according to the Los Angeles Times). We are certainly not the first to explore California City — the LA Times has done a good job documenting the site/non-site.


“California City’s ‘second community’ has miles of mostly unpaved streets. In the background are a park and country club” (Photo by LA Times)

Tweets and pics from the trip:

Underground ant colony, California City, California

Central Park, California City, California

Road heading east out of the denser area of California City, California: future avenue?

An intersection of undeveloped roads, California City, California

Edwards Air Force Base from Borax Visitor Center

Borax Boron Open Pit Mine, Boron, California

Eastern border, California City, California

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