California City - The Desert Tomorrow Land from Yesterday
I went to California City with my oldest son who is working on an undergraduate history degree. He will possibly write his thesis on the history of California City. He is interested in the vision that the original city planner by the name of Mendelsohn who wanted to make California City a modern model city in 1958 and what may have happened to the grand plan. There was an expansive construction of streets, which would have made California City the third largest city in California. That never happened and much of the grid of streets is now covered with sand with nothing built on them with only street signs erected marking the streets. The city was developed in the early 60's around a large park which was aptly named Central Park featuring a large lake, waterfall and the sunshade pictured above fashioned in the once futuristic Googie style so popular in the atomic age.
While exploring we found ourselves on the corner of Von Braun Way and Lindbergh Blvd. near the California City Airport. In keeping the the Tomorrow Land theme, they were named after an aviation hero and the "Father of Rocket Science." Lindbergh was clear to the pavement and Von Braun was covered with sand.
On our first evening in town we ventured into Central Park which, according to my son who had visited once before, was desolate and deserted. Tonight; however, there were law enforcement vehicles and a mix of police officers, sheriff's deputies and citizens attending the National Night Out Against Crime. We arrived just in time to see a California City Police Canine demonstration where the canine officer chased a "suspect" dressed in a bite suit into the demonstration ring. The suspect was driving a golf cart and the officer was pursuing him in his patrol car. The suspect stopped the cart and got out on foot. The officer released the dog from his car which apprehended the suspect to the cheers of the supportive crowd.
After watching the apprehension of the crook we ventured to the outskirts of Central Park and looked at the Lake Shore Inn which had seen better times.
The parking lot is now a cracking web of desert grass trying to reclaim it.
California City never did become the model city envisioned by Mendelsohn. Much of its working population is employed by the nearby Edwards Air Force Base or the Corrections Corporation of America private prison. Despite the vast grids of undeveloped streets the population is slowly growing and development of California City continues, it just will not be the futuristic model city as originally planned.
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