Category Archives: History of California City

Day Of The Missing Child

NCMC604028c1It is the most tragic thing that can happen to a parent and apart from the great uncertainty of the missing child’s whereabouts and it’s well-being – there is one thing certain: Your missing child is alive.

Missing children are not dead and can never die or we would stop looking for them. They are the undead of our society. They surround us everyday, mostly in form of photos but there is no way we can reintroduce them into our group. We can not interact with them on the basis of some sort of exchange. The dialogue with a missing child can only be an inner painful monolog.

There is no way around it or better: there is no way to it.

We have to try to deal with the unbearable and not only today on the day of the missing child but everyday!

In an attempt to give the missing children a fixed place, a place to honor their daily absence, to acknowledge their existence and so to acknowledge our pain, I put their portraits up on
THE|PORTAL, temporary at the entrance to California City.

Some of the photos I chose, seem to be very old and there is little hope you might ever find this child again, who by now must have turned into an adult. But this is not for the missing children, it is for us who are present and here in this room today. It is for us who cannot mourn somebody who is not dead. And maybe this is also for our inner child we could never bury inside of us.

California City is a very special place with a very special feeling to it. This might not occur to anybody living here but to me the empty streets, the crazy winds and crazy stars, all the missed opportunities and the missing people in this town make California City just the right place for THE|PORTAL which will also be a monument for the missing child.

Dennis Rudolph on behalf of THE|PORTAL, 5/20/2014DAY OF THE MISSING CHILD

Why Southern California?

L.A.“The Pacific beaches are where young men stop going West, where the great waves of agrarian migration from Europe and the Middle West broke in a surf of fulfilled and frustrated hopes. The strength and nature of this westward flow need to be understood; it underlies the differences of mind between Los ANgeles and its sistermetropolis to the north.”

“San Francisco was plugged into California from the sea […] Yankee houses and prefabricated New England (or European) attitudes were dumped unmodified on the Coast. Viewed from Southern California it looks like a foreign enclave […] the Southern Californians came, predominantly, overland to Los Angeles, slowly traversing the whole North American land-mass and its evovling history.”

“Los Angeles is the Middle West raised to flash-point, the authoritarian dogmas of the Bible Belt and the perennial revolt against them colliding at critical mass under the palm trees. Out if it comes a cultural situation where only the extreme is normal…”

-Reyner Banham



“The Development from primal societys to modern society is irreversible: eventually the dead cease to exist. They are excluded from symbolic circulation within the group. They are not anymore suited as partners for exchange, and are being told so by being banished more and more from the group of the living: first from the intimity of the house to the graveyard (a collection center in the heart of the village or city at the beginning). Then from the center of town more and more towards the periphery (the first ghetto) and finally into a nowhere, as in the modern city and contemporary metropolis, in which there is no place intended for the dead, not in physical space nor in spiritual space.”

“We all now what it is with these untrackable places, because if the factory doesn’t exist anymore, work is everywhere. If the graveyard doesn’t exist anymore, then only because the modern city as a whole has taken over this function: it is a dead city – a city of the dead. And if the big metropolis is the final expression of a whole culture, than ours is simply a culture of death.”

Of course this also applies to Los Angeles but it is just much more obvious in California City. Seen from above as in google maps the empty streets already look like the construction of a huge enormous cemetry. That’s why this is a much suitable place for a monument to Western World – the place of THE|PORTAL.

California City with no history

Good morning Dennis,

I wish I could assist you in this area. For about a 2 year period, I attempted to seek out the very details of interest to you, since they were of interest to me too. But with negative results. Even the picture of Mendelsohn for our web site, was from an old grainy newspaper article that I scanned. In those days, the local newspaper was “The Sun”, and was company owned.

The data that I was able to obtained for the early years of California City, I actually stumbled upon by luck. One of the original real estate agents for Mendelsohn kept handwritten notes, month to month, for the first few years. The man later joined the Historical Society and wrote newspaper articles about Death Valley and the 20 Mule Teams, as well as Mendelsohn. When the man passed away, his wife turned his collectables and notes over to the Historical Society.

Back in the early days, everything was managed by the California City Development Company. The Company  later was under the control of Great Western Cities (1969), then the Hunt Brothers (Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt). In the late 1970’s, the Hunt Brothers tried to corner the World’s Silver Martket and got into serious trouble with our Federal Government. A friend of mine was a clerk for the Company at the time and recalls Federal Agents with subpoenas taking just about all the files. The Hunt Brothers were sued in Federal Court and lost badly. California City was a very small portion of the assests that were sold to another company.

I suspect that either in the transition of 1969, from one company to another, the Federal Government, or later company ownerships, the materials were never properly maintained for future use. Sadly, even our own local City government does not have any files for research. California City’s first local government was as a Community Service District (1960-1965), with it incorporating in 1965.

Today, California City has about 78 tracts with about 52,000 lots (most undeveloped). Property owners are from all over the world. I think the population is 14,000. There are huge companies, military installations, industrial plants and other businesses near California City that employs her residents. The City is 203 square miles, and generates revenues from property and special taxes. The City has its own Police and Fire Departments, schools, medical and retail to support the City.

Obviously, Mendelsohn’s Vision of California City fell short of being another Los Angeles……..

Sorry, I could not help more. Please take care.


California City Early Years: 1958-1959

The historical chronology of California City begins in May 1958 when the first parcels of property were marketed. The man who envisioned this new city was Nat K. Mendelsohn, a dreamer and president of a corporation called the California City Development Company. Mendelsohn had been a sociology professor at Columbia University and had his finger in several other smaller scale developments.