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Ever driven around the vastness of Greater Los Angeles and seen the freeway offramp for the town of Gladysta? Or Terracina? How about the San Gabriel River town of Chicago Park — literally in the San Gabriel River?
If you saw them, you might not have passed a Breathalyzer test. Those towns never existed.
The county of Los Angeles embraces more than 4,000 square miles. Within those miles are now 88 incorporated cities, Los Angeles chief among them. But here’s a vanishing act for you: There were once at least 100 towns laid out here, all ready to welcome the big wave of settlers from points east who created the region’s big real estate boom just over a century after the city was founded in 1781.
Some were actual burgs that grew and dwindled, were annexed or swallowed up. Some were “dream towns” imagined by real estate developers, planned and platted and sold, but never born. Bearing some fanciful names like Ivanhoe and Wahoo, some were sold off with hopes and prices higher than their survival odds. Others were peddled almost as cynically as Florida swamplands: “ocean view” cities nearly 30 miles from the ocean, and other “view” towns whose vistas were desert desolation.