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Pic of the Day: Abstract Land Tracts

In 1958, real estate developer and sociology professor Nat Mendelsohn purchased 320 square kilometers of Mojave desert paradise with the aim of turning it into the so-called California City, an urban paradise whose size would rival that of Los Angeles. The idealized city would be centered around a lush park — stocked with flora non-indigenous to the desert and watered up the wazoo, naturally — complete with a gigantic artificial lake. As you may have interpreted from the ghostly grid pictured above, Mendelsohn’s utopian vision fell flat, and California City is left as a “mirage of suburbia in the middle of nowhere,” a novel relic to delight aerial photographers.

The Google Street View is particularly impressive.

Curious to see the tracts from ground level? BLDGBLOG and Atlas Obscura are organizing an expedition to the never-inhabited California City on March 20, 2010. Event details here.

March 20 is Obscura Day, an international celebration of curious places sponsored by Atlas Obscura, a guide to the world’s wonders, curiosities, and esoterica. Follow Atlas Obscura on Twitter for news and updates. On March 20, participants can also tag their Flickr-uploaded pictures with #obscuraday to aggregate discoveries from across the world.

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