Slab City has long been home to artists, squatters and migrants looking for an off-grid and simple lifestyle on the 640 acres of public land located in Imperial County. The site of Slab City used to be a U.S. Marine Corps base in the 1940s.
With its prime location in the middle of the desert, Slab City has been hailed the country's "last free place."
Author and architect Charlie Hailey and photographer Donovan Wylie were intrigued by this notion that people could live together without any laws or guidance and set out to see the enclave for themselves. Their new book, Slab City: Dispatches from the Last Free Place, is set to be released on Oct. 16th.
Smithsonian.com picked up Wiley and Hailey's story and picked their brains to see why they found such interest in Slab City. The publication asked them questions about the people, architecture and more.
When asked why they think occupants stick around in the harsh conditions of California's Colorado Desert, Wiley said, "The slabs invite you to make a place, and there’s an infrastructure that can invite you. Also, there’s something about not being reached. There are clearly people there who don’t want to be found, so there’s something about disappearing, and the desert offers that kind of opportunity."
Read the full interview here.
Photo: Getty Images