Two years ago, Zimbio hosted a nice photo gallery named “Town Of Rio Vista Nears Bankruptcy, As Foreclosure Crisis Spreads,” which introduced us to a development in Rio Vista, California. Only a handful of the planned 750 homes were built before the global financial bubble burst. Construction halted on November 20, 2008.



Model homes sit vacant in the center of a 750-home housing development where construction was halted November 20, 2008 in Rio Vista, California. The northern California city is considering filing for bankruptcy as it struggles to deal with a $816,000 deficit in its general fund. The fund is used for a variety of purposes, including employee wages. Justin Sullivan, 20 November 2008 / Getty Images North America


Desdemona has seen the revival of a few apparently doomed developments in the Seattle area, so it seemed plausible that the Rio Vista development might have received an infusion of new capital. But as these satellite images from 2010 and 2011 show, it hasn’t happened.



Satellite view of an abandoned housing development in Rio Vista, California, 2010.

In this 2010 satellite image, yards don’t appear to be very overgrown, but the absence of cars suggests that the houses are abandoned.



Satellite view of an abandoned housing development in Rio Vista, California, 2011.

In this 2011 satellite view, houses remain abandoned. Yards are visibly overgrown.


2011 Context View

Satellite view of an abandoned housing development in Rio Vista, California, 2011.

This 2011 satellite view shows the entire housing development site, bounded by Liberty Island Rd. and bisected by McCormack Rd. Note the unpaved roads at the north end of the site.

Cf. Ghost cities of China, Artificial archipelagos of Dubai, 14 Artificial islands of Durrat Al Bahrain, and The World’s Largest Dead Mall.


  1. Anonymous said...

    The "city" of Rio Vista is pretty bizarre, besides having this abandoned development. There is the original gridded town, then two separate, completed developments that are barely connected each other and the original town, and finally the empty one. It must be a horrible place to live - it's near nothing, has nothing, and going anywhere requires getting in a car.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Horrible is a relative term. Rio Vista is a beautiful area along the Sacramento River, part of the Sacramento River Delta, and home to a wide array of wildlife. It was once a quaint fishing town and is a lot like Mayberry. Everyone knows everyone else and has your back. I am a teacher in Rio Vista. It's not horrible at all to work in a place where you can look out your window and see cows and beautiful rolling hills. Its not horrible to work in a place where life moves slowly, people are kind and children are raised with old fashioned values. Not to mention, no crime! Again, horrible is a relative term. Rio Vista is not a portrait of horrible. Live there, work there, and I believe you will feel different. Until then, don't judge what you don't know!  

  3. Anonymous said...

    you lost me at "raised with old fashioned values"  

  4. Anonymous said...

    We were here today and only the tower in the turnabout remains. There is no trace that the houses in the images ever existed. Isleton, a few miles north and just across the county line has abandoned town homes that were likely built around the same time. Rio Vista seems to have plenty of life left. Their museum recently expanded and signs of commerce among empty but maintained buildings exist. Isleton on the other hand is barley hanging on to life, with the highest crime rate in Sacramento county. Isleton could have its own blog about Delta decay. Stop the Tunnels!  

  5. Ken Trichak said...

    I can't agree more. Thank you for a great view point.  

  6. Anonymous said...

    Rio Vista is a great place to live. We come from a big city and this is a breath of fresh air - literally. We live in Trilogy, a gated community which has alot to offer.
    My husband can go fishing & hunting within 5 minutes and The town is growing. With the volunteers of "Rio Vision" things are changing . . . downtown is looking alot better with night lights in the trees, benches, flowers, bushes and a growing business community. People are friendly and curteous, which you do not find in big cities. You can drive 25 minutes either way for large shopping centers, physicians, etc. Yes, it's a slower pace of life, but we like it that way. The crime level is extremely low here and the quality of life for our children and residents is very good. Yes, w3e would love a Safeway or Rit Aid locally, but Lira's, Delta Pharmacy, Ace Hardware and other small businesses can normally offer what you are looking for. If not, you can pick up other necessary in other closeby towns.

  7. Anonymous said...

    Rio Vista is a very nice place to live. It is unfortunately, overrun now by semi-trucks and cars taking the short cut from East Bay area to I5 Lodi area down Hwy 12. However, there are 5 subdivisions in this little fishing town. The old abandoned ghost town is now being developed and housing is being built, again. We need more local shops, and a large grocery store. We need a medical doctor/clinic. Close by towns of Vacaville, Fairfield to the west and Lodi to the east are about 35 minute drive. Plan your trips and you'll do fine. Expect to work out of town, however, the medicinal marijuana growers have now come to our town, which means more money and more businesses. Not bad.  


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