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City (artwork) facts for kids

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City Art
One complex in City, photo by Tom Vinetz, The New York Times

City is an earth art sculpture located at 38.034°, -115.443° in Garden Valley, a desert valley in rural Lincoln County in the U.S. state of Nevada, near the border with Nye County. The work was begun in 1972 by the artist Michael Heizer and is ongoing. When complete, it will be one of the largest sculptures ever built.

City will open to the public in 2020.


Like Heizer's previous Double Negative (1969), City is designed and executed on a massive scale. Covering a space approximately one and a quarter miles long and more than a quarter of a mile wide (2 km by 0.4 km, roughly the scale of the National Mall), City is one of the largest sculptures ever created. Using earth, rocks, sand and concrete as building materials and assembled with heavy machinery, the work comprises five phases, each consisting of a number of structures referred to as complexes, with some of the structures reaching a height of eighty feet.

City attempts to synthesize ancient monuments, Minimalism and industrial technology. Heizer's inspiration for the work came while he was visiting the Yucatan and studying Chichen Itza. Heizer also cites an interest in the ceremonial squares and associated civic monuments of cites.


The cost of City is being financed by several patrons, including the Dia Art Foundation and Lannan Foundation, with an estimated cost of well over twenty five million USD. The work is located on a large parcel of private land owned by the artist and is closed to the public until its completion. Heizer is currently completing the work with a team of roughly a dozen and had, as of 2005, anticipated completion before 2010. As of Spring 2015 City is not yet open to the public. Visitors are explicitly not welcome, and due to its orientation away from the road and system of earthen berms no part of City can be viewed from the ground without trespassing on posted property, but photos can be seen on the internet.


Garden Valley has been eyed for several major projects in the years since Heizer started working on his sculpture. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the government planned to crisscross the valley and others nearby with railroad tracks that would carry MX missiles to and from hidden silos. The program was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan.

The proposed Yucca Mountain Repository, a U.S. Department of Energy terminal storage facility for spent nuclear reactor and other radioactive waste would have included a new railroad line across Garden Valley, and would have come within its sightline. Heizer reportedly considered burying City if this line was built.

In September 2014, U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada introduced “Garden Valley Withdrawal Act,” a bill that would preserve the land around City and protect 805,100 acres of Federal land from mineral and energy development. Reid had visited the area around City in 2007, and he soon after tried to pass a similar bill in 2010 that would designate part of Garden Valley and nearby Coal Valley as a national conservation area. In early 2015, a group of American museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston the Walker Art Center, and the Nevada Museum of Art joined together to urge preservation of the area.

In July 2015, the area became part of the newly-created Basin and Range National Monument. The national monument designation will prevent new railroad or power lines and other development.

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