Will the Last Free Place in America Last?
Welcome to “the last free place in America”, alias Slab City, a place completely uncontrolled and isolated from government concern where all parking is free and unregulated. It’s a place of drugs, freedom, isolation and heavy south-California sun, where the residents reject seniority and avoid shrewdness, remaining polite and open-armed to new comers. Hippies, free-spirits, druggies, eccentrics and adventurers – people have been living for free in Slab City since the late ’40s.
Situated close to Niland, California, the deserted Word War II Marine outpost draws thousands of visitors annually and continually piques the interest of folks eager to disengage themselves from society’s hustle and bustle. If you’d love to live in The Slabs, your crash course awaits below.
Today the entire Imperial Valley, where Slab City is situated, is an apocalyptic dustbowl in the center of the California badlands. The site once was a Marine training base called Camp Dunlap. The military pulled out after World War II and left concrete slabs behind. Years later, those slabs drew snowbirds in RVs looking for a free place to park and stretch retirement dollars. They also inspired what would become the community’s name: Slab City.
Some come to the Slabs to escape modern society. Many are destitute. Others just don’t want to be found. A few are fugitives or drug addicts. Others are young nomads. There’s even a population of modern day hobos — Slabbers call them “train kids” – who come through on a regular basis. These guys must be the American Vagabonds we posted about earlier.
But the freedom enjoyed by the permanent and temporary residents of Slab City is being endangered as the state is considering selling the land under their feet. Talk of the sale has spurred some residents to organize and take a leadership role, and they’ve recently applied to buy the land. But that frightens others who believe landlords, government and rules will follow, all of which run counter to how Slab City operates. They say it could destroy the “live and let live” philosophy of the Slabs. Watch the videos below the pictures to find out more about Slab City and its current crisis.