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.
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.