At the Center of it All
Driving I-8 through the California desert between San Diego and Yuma, Arizona, you will see a sign for Felicity, CA, Population: 2. Take the exit and you will discover that Felicity is in fact the official Center of the World. For $3 you can step into the mind of Jacques-Andre Istel, the founder of Felicity and explore the somewhat surreal place he has created here at the Center of the World. For another $2 you can enter the pyramid, and stand on the marker that marks the exact location of the Center of the World, and even get a certificate indicating that you have been there. If kitschy roadside gimmicks don’t appeal to you, don’t discount Felicity just yet – it’s a wild place that has a lot to offer for a town of two.
The Museum of History in Granite
One of the main attractions in Felicity, aside from being the Center of the World, is the Museum of History in Granite. This open air museum consists of over a dozen huge slabs of granite, each weighing nearly 500 lbs. Each slab recounts a different aspect of human history, carefully carved into the stone and accompanied by meticulous illustrations. The huge granite monuments are intended to last for millennia, an enduring monument designed to tell the story of the people of this planet in a distant future that may not have any humanity left to communicate it first hand. Whether you are a history buff, or simply a part of the story being told on these granite slabs, I can guarantee you will be fascinated by a walk through the museum.
The Museum of History in Granite is intended to be an enduring testament to the trials and tribulations of humanity, etched in stone, preserved for a distant future where humanity is no longer around to tell the stories.
High atop a man-made hill, designed to resist earthquakes, sits the Church on the Hill at Felicity. Surrounded by a barren desert landscape that extends for miles in all directions, it is by far the most prominent feature of Felicity, visible from the highway, and punctuated by its bright blue doorway. The church itself is small but functional, and the view from the hill allows you to survey Felicity and its surroundings.
The Maze of Honor
Adjacent to the museum sits the Maze of Honor – a series of winding concrete walls lined with laser etched granite tiles filled with images and stories. If you aren’t satisfied with simply being included in the history of humanity in general, you can have yourself immortalized in the Maze of Honor. Where the Museum of History is constructed of huge concrete blocks providing a big picture view of our history, the Maze of Honor is made up of hundreds of smaller tiles each with photos and memories of individual people. Anyone can purchase a tile for $100, and have your memories included as a part of this enduring record. It is possible to spend hours wandering the maze and reading the stories of the people who have decided to have themselves memorialized here in Felicity.
Like many strange desert enclaves, Felicity is home to a number of other unusual attractions. The town of Felicity has it’s own fully-operational US post office, which offers some fun souvenir opportunities if you know anyone who has an interest in stamps and postmarks. Felicity is also home to an original section of the Eiffel Tower’s staircase, purchased by Mr. Istel when the stairs were replaced by an elevator in the mid-1980s.
Finally for the art lovers of the world, a giant sun dial keeps time in the center of the town. The arm of the sun dial is modeled after Michelangelo’s creation depicted on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.
If you ever find yourself travelling between San Diego and Yuma, and you notice the sign for Felicity – pull off the highway. Whether you only have a few minutes to spare, or you plan to spend a few hours exploring the town Felicity is definitely worth making a stop. In addition to all the fun and fascinating things to explore the town also boasts a gift shop and small hotel, so stop for a postcard, stop for the night – just stop and check it out!