The End of California: Has the American Dream State Finally Reached Its Rude Awakening?

Ky Henderson, Men's Journal on December 14, 2021

Every U.S. state has its own romanticized identity. New York is the high-energy center of high culture. Wisconsin is the land of beer and cheese. Texas is full of things that are bigger than the things in other places. But no state in the country has been more romanticized, in more ways, than California.

Endless beaches strewn with surfer babes. A perfect climate that nurtures the nation’s television and movie stardust factories. As many breathtaking national parks as New Jersey has clogged turnpikes. California was glorified even before it became our 31st state, when the gold rush of the mid-1800s saw San Francisco grow from a sleepy outpost to one of the biggest cities in the country. Eighty years later, in America’s largest-ever migration, 200,000 dust bowl farmers abandoned their heartland homes and headed to California’s verdant farmland.

In fact, the state experienced such a steady flow of optimistic newcomers for so many years that today, one in eight Americans calls California home.

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