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    A California Ghost Town Was Supposed To Be One Of The Largest Cities In The State: Your Mini Dose Of Underrated History

    It's time for your mini underrated history lesson, and today I need you to know about California City.

    There are some pieces of history that unfortunately fall through the cracks of time, but we can't let them go unnoticed. That's where we come in. In this series, you’re going to be learning about underrated people, movements, and places that need to be talked about more. Introducing: Your Mini Dose of Underrated History.

    Katia Oloy / BuzzFeed

    As a resident of California, I was fascinated when I learned that an abandoned city in the Mojave Desert was supposed to spring into a huge metroplex, making it the third largest city in California. Now, it's essentially a ghost town. Today, I'm giving you a mini dose of underrated history on what actually happened.

    Katia Oloy / BuzzFeed

    In 1958, a guy named Nathan Mendelson bought 82,000 acres of land in California's Mojave Desert with a dream that it would be the next Los Angeles. He even pictured creating a city center with an enormous park, inspired by Central Park — although I can only imagine how much water it would take to keep the grass green in such a dry climate. Nevertheless, his dream came to life. Sort of.

    Katia Oloy / BuzzFeed

    Mendelson was good at the very same thing Instagram influencers excel at today: creating hype. Many people showed interest in California City because of the way he marketed the town, and tens of thousands of land plots were sold — get this — without them having even seen it first. The first order of business? Planning out a street grid, which is still the unpaved city's skeleton you can see to this day.

    Katia Oloy / BuzzFeed

    The thing is, the buyers didn't realize California City was so remote. So, naturally, it was like the Fyre Fest of the '60s: they were promised a huge sprawling city only to be served a sad-looking salad. When the FTC caught a subtle whiff of what could be a scam, they halted the city’s developers, forcing them to refund money to some investors. A class-action lawsuit was also filed against developers. Big yikes.

    Katia Oloy / BuzzFeed

    The one thing Californians are very familiar with are the Santa Ana winds, and when they swept through the empty desert town, the people who did wind up visiting decided against living in the middle of a sandstorm. Also, it was unappealing living so far away from major cities and highways.

    Katia Oloy / BuzzFeed

    California City is technically the third-largest city by area, just not people. Today, it has about 14,000 residents — mostly because it's home to the Edwards Air Force Base, which has a flight research center run by NASA. While it never got a chance to become the huge, dazzling mega-city Mendelson dreamed of, it is, however, a quiet town that offers something L.A. can't quite provide: a breathtaking view of the starry night sky.

    Katia Oloy / BuzzFeed


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