Slab City

What is “Slab City”? 

What is “Slab City”?

What began as an abandoned cement slab in the southern California dessert has become the home of various groups of people. While their reasons for living on the Slab vary, most people are trying to live together as a community that makes this alternative way of life work. Slab City is a symbol for a greater movement that more and more American families are joining: severing ties with the structured living of the globalized world and instead choosing to be off-the-grid.

Positive Portrayals of Slab

An art installation is seen in Slab City just outside Niland, Calif., on Feb. 15.










The worlds that exist within the dessert confines of Slab City are overwhelming. The freedom of living has opened a gateway to creative freedom, with spontaneous art and music seeping from the venues built by slabbers. Some people live in Slab because of economic hardship that has left them with no other options to survive. However, there are communities of people who have chosen to call Slab there home, resisting the temptations of modern life to embrace a lifestyle that resembles the last frontier. Many of these people would tell us that the freedom found in Slab trumps the ease that technology and globalization has brought to our lives. At Slab you can just be. This is a dying phenomenon in today’s world.

Negative Portrayals of Slab

Extreme trash and dirt problem in California's Slab City











As could be predicted, a world with no law enforcement or set rules can often have very serious repercussions for its inhabitants. Through out the existence of Slab City there has been animosity between local law enforcement and the desert residence. In addition, some people who find themselves at Slab are experiencing cases of drug addiction and mental health disorders. The predicaments of these individuals undoubtedly have an affect on the Slab community as a whole. Moreover, because there are no longer systems to filter trash and sewage, Slab residence grapples with a lack the lack of sanitation and security that are intrinsic to this type of living.