Marincello, Marin County
Marincello, the city that never was. In the 1950s the U.S. government gave up tens of thousands of acres of the Marin headlands, north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The military had owned it since 1851 but land was no longer needed for defending the bay. Enter Thomas Frouge, a developer from Pittsburgh. In 1964 Frouge, along with money from Gulf Oil, proposed building a town called Marincello. The 2,000 acre development would house 30,000 people and called for 50 apartment towers, vast tracts of single-family homes, and a "landmark hotel" along the headlands pristine shoreline and hills. The project was approved by the County Board of Supervisors and construction began. But local conservationists continued to fight the development and in 1970 an appellate court ruled the developers hadn't followed the law and the construction halted. Eventually a government study proposed the area become a national park. Frouge and Gulf Oil saw the writing on the wall and sold the land to The Nature Conservancy which passed it on to the National Park Service. Today the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with its 75,398 acres and 28 miles of coastline remains undeveloped and attracts 16 million visitors a year, making it one of the country's most popular National Parks in America.