Felicia, California: The Center of the World

Photo: Kirs10 (Wikipedia)

You're looking at the Center of the World Pyramid, which is officially located at the center of the world. No, really. Center of the whole wide world:

According to the French government and California’s Imperial County, the official center of the world lies in the town of Felicia in California’s Sonora Desert. There is no scientific or political reason for the designation, but only the effort of Jacques-André Istel and his wife Felicia Lee (the town's namesake), who founded the town in 1986.

Jacques-André made his name and fortune as a famous French-American parachutist and co-founded of Parachutes, Inc., which produced parachuting equipment and opened the first parachuting school in the United States. He is credited as a key figure in popularizing parachuting in America and has been referred to as the “father of American skydiving.” In 1985 he wrote the children’s book "Coe: The Good Dragon at the Center of the World" about a dragon that lived at the center of the world, which served as the inspiration behind the town’s creation.

After Istel was unanimously voted mayor, in a 2-0 vote, he erected a pyramid to mark the exact spot of the world's “center.” Over the last 25-years, Istel added many sights to his town, including a beautiful traditional-style church overlooking a man-made hillside (modeled after a church in Brittany), a lone outdoor 25-foot staircase that was formerly part of the Eiffel Tower, a checkered field of flowers, and a 15-foot bronze sundial that incorporates Michelangelo's Arm of God. The most ambitious of his additions is the World Commemorative Center®, which currently consists of 18 one-hundred foot triangle-shaped granite walls, meant to “engrave in granite highlights of the collective memory of humanity."

Atlas Obscura has more photos: Link

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The town is called Felicity, California. I live 8 miles away and have never been there. One of these days I'll have to go check it out.
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I went there last year. Walking into the giftshop area to sign up for a tour, I was laughing at the eccentricy of the place. I viewed Istel as a huckster, drawing in business with spectacle in the same vein as buildings shaped like food or giant animal sculptures.

However, after watching the tour's introductory video and then being led to the pyramid, I started to notice the solemnity of the place. The pyramid is really very pretty on the inside, and feels like standing in a mausoleum. Likewise, walking along the carved granite "World Commemorative Center" felt like walking in a cemetery. The engraving is absolutely beautiful on a number of the panels, as well.

'Center of the World' or no, and in spite of its oddity, it's a very special little place. Definitely worth the stop if you find yourself en route from San Diego to Phoenix or visa versa.
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