California City, California
California City was a grandiose experiment in city planning and real estate development that hasn't quite lived up to initial expectations. California City was developed by a sociologist and real-estate developer in an empty section of the Mojave desert in 1958. The initial plan for California City called for a very large garden city surrounding a massive central park with an artificial lake. A system of suburban style, curved streets and cul-de-sacs was plotted, encompassing over 200 square miles. Single family residential lots were then sold to prospective residents and developers. In spite of the tireless promotional efforts of it's developers, California City grew very slowly after it's founding. It's population in 1970 was only 1,309. For the first several decades of it's existence, there were few reasons economic or otherwise for anyone to want to move to California City. Over the last 30 years however, California City has been growing rapidly. It is now home to 13,260 people. Much of it's recent growth has been driven by the incredibly low prices for land and homes in California City versus the incredibly high prices for homes in other parts of Southern California. Lots in California city sell for less than $5,000. As California City has grown, more people who work in the surrounding area at places like Edward Air Force Base, a large privately operated prison, near-by Hyundai/Kia and Honda testing facilities and a large boron mine have chosen to live in California City. California City is absolutely not a ghost town as some suggest. In fact it has recently been one of the fastest growing cities in California. Much of the street system laid out in the late 1950s is however still undeveloped. Empty streets stretch for miles in all directions from the town's developed core.
The Lake Shore Inn (pictured) was built in the 1960s next to California City's Central Park which is on the shore of it's central lake. The hotel was built as part of efforts to promote the city as a resort. There is a still operating golf course that threads though the park and around the lake. The hotel didn't survive for long and has been abandoned for many years. Most online information about the Lake Shore Inn fails to mention that there are occupied homes and apartments on all sides of the former hotel. It is fenced off but not very well secured. I'm not sure who owns the property at this point but I think it probably belongs to the city. Other than the Lake Shore Inn, California City isn't incredibly interesting to visit. If you're interested in ghost (failed) real-estate developments and empty street grids... Salton City on the shore of the Salton Sea is possibly even more interesting to visit than California City.
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