Bombay Beach, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bombay Beach
Sign for Bombay Beach
Sign for Bombay Beach
Location in Imperial County and the state of California
Location in Imperial County and the state of California
Bombay Beach is located in the United States
Bombay Beach
Bombay Beach
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 33°21′03″N 115°43′47″W / 33.35083°N 115.72972°W / 33.35083; -115.72972Coordinates: 33°21′03″N 115°43′47″W / 33.35083°N 115.72972°W / 33.35083; -115.72972[1]
Country United States
State California
 • Total0.94 sq mi (2.44 km2)
 • Land0.94 sq mi (2.44 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
Elevation-223 ft (−68 m)
 • Total295
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area codes442/760
FIPS code06-07372
GNIS feature IDs1667823, 2407878

Bombay Beach is a census-designated place (CDP) in Imperial County, California, United States. It is located on the Salton Sea, 4 miles (6.4 km) west-southwest of Frink[3] and is the lowest community in the United States, located 223 feet (68 m) below sea level.[4] The population was 295 at the 2010 census, down from 366 in 2000. It is part of the El Centro, California Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The population declined for years and the buildings were rotting away, but by 2018, a number of people had moved into the settlement. An article in The Guardian stated that it was "enjoying a rebirth of sorts with an influx of artists, intellectuals and hipsters who have turned it into a bohemian playground".[5] The Bombay Beach Biennale, an annual art festival, is held here. The population estimate for 2020 was 415 persons.[6]


Abandoned, salt-encrusted structures on the Salton Sea shore at Bombay Beach (2004 photo)

Bombay Beach is located in Southern California's Sonoran Desert.[7] Bombay Beach is located on the east shore of the Salton Sea and like many communities along its shores, has had to contend with fluctuating water levels, reducing size of the lake and increasing salinity. A berm was built in the 1970s to protect the west end of the town, but a portion of the town beyond the berm was either submerged or half-buried in mud.[8][9][10] Bombay Beach marks the southern end of the San Andreas Fault.[11]



Historical population
estimate 2018179−39.3%
* estimate
U.S. Decennial Census[12]

At the 2010 census Bombay Beach had a population of 295. The population density was 313.5 people per square mile (121.0/km2). The racial makeup of Bombay Beach was 223 (76%) White, 37 (13%) African American, 8 (3%) Native American, 1 (0%) Asian, 0 (0%) Pacific Islander, 22 (8%) from other races, and 4 (1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 59 people (20%).[13]

The whole population lived in households, no one lived in non-institutionalized group quarters and no one was institutionalized.

There were 175 households, 19 (11%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 51 (29%) were married couples living together, 13 (7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 4 (2%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 7 (4%) unmarried partnerships, and 1 (1%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 97 households (55%) were one person and 51 (29%) had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 1.69. There were 68 families (39% of households); the average family size was 2.54.

The age distribution was 30 people (10%) under the age of 18, 16 people (5%) aged 18 to 24, 36 people (12%) aged 25 to 44, 98 people (33%) aged 45 to 64, and 115 people (39%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 58.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 113.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.6 males.

There were 449 housing units at an average density of 477.1 per square mile (184.2/km2), of which 175 were occupied, of which 115 (66%) were owner-occupied, and 60 (34%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 15%; the rental vacancy rate was 16%. 198 people (67% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 97 people (33%) lived in rental housing units.


At the 2000 census there were 366 people, 178 households, and 93 families in the CDP. The population density was 363.8 people per square mile (139.9/km2). There were 440 housing units at an average density of 437.4 per square mile (168.2/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 71% White, 19% Black or African American, 1% Native American, 0% Asian, 4% from other races, and 5% from two or more races. 19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[14] Of the 178 households 18% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39% were married couples living together, 11% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47% were non-families. 40% of households were one person and 26% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2 and the average family size was 2.8.

The age distribution was 18% under the age of 18, 3% from 18 to 24, 20% from 25 to 44, 26% from 45 to 64, and 33% 65 or older. The median age was 53 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.3 males.

The median household income was $17,708 and the median family income was $19,511. Males had a median income of $31,250 versus $14,213 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $10,535. About 12% of families and 28% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40% of those under age 18 and 14% of those age 65 or over.


In the California State Legislature, Bombay Beach is in the 40th Senate District, represented by Democrat Ben Hueso,[15] and the 56th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Eduardo Garcia.[16] In the United States House of Representatives, Bombay Beach is in California's 51st congressional district, represented by Democrat Juan Vargas.[17]


An article provided this information about the community during the 1950s: "Bombay Beach was a celebrity destination. Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys and Bing Crosby frequented its luxury resorts perched at the edge of the Salton Sea, California’s largest lake. Lauded for its fishing, boating and water skiing,... Birds, too, loved the lake, with thousands spending winters there every year". By the 1970s, the runoff which was full of salty chemicals led to a warning that the salinity of the lake would no longer sustain wildlife; that occurred by the early 1980s.[18] A September 2019 report stated that ten years earlier, "there were some 100 million fish in the Sea. Now, more than 97 percent of those fish are gone".[19]

Most of the few residents use golf carts to get around, since the nearest gas station is 20 miles (32 km) away in Niland. The only store selling food items is a convenience store and the closest hospital requires a 45 minute drive. The Ski Inn bar and restaurant remains popular. The "Bombay Beach Drive-In" is an art installation with broken down cars. A visitor in 2019 wrote that there were many "discarded homes and trailers long-since abandoned ... windowless husks blanketed in graffiti, surrounded by broken furniture and rubble.[20]

The ruins of Bombay Beach attract many photographers and visitors.[21] The town, as well as others on the shores of the Salton Sea, is one of the lowest settlements in elevation in North America. Besides the local American Legion, the Ski Inn is the only drinking establishment or bar in the town. (The American Legion, Post 801, had 36 members in 2016 and closed down "for a few years" but reopened as a volunteer-run facility.)[22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

House prices had risen by 2018; some bungalows (ranchers) were selling for "tens of thousands of dollars", according to a news report.[5]

The community has held an event each spring since 2017, inviting "artists, academics, writers, and film-makers to create work, give lectures, and stage happenings". (The 2020 Biennale was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)[29] A March 2020 article described the settlement in these words:[30]

"Bombay Beach is the post-apocalyptic star of this excruciatingly drawn out disaster. The mostly elderly residents who make up the population live in a grid of mobile homes and eccentric (and, sometimes, elaborate) small homes and shacks."

In popular culture[edit]


Florian-Ayala Fauna of the music duo "uncertain" grew up in Bombay Beach. Fauna credits the place as an inspiration to her music.[31][32][33] According to Paris-based art community Artchipel, Fauna said the place had a "big impact on her childhood and becomes a major influence in her life."[31] In an interview with Buffalo, New York alternative newspaper The Public's Cory Perla, she described it as "a very kind of post-apocalyptic-looking town."[33]

Bombay Beach is the subject of the 2019 single "Bombay Beach" by the Minneapolis blues rock band The Dead Century.[34][35][36]


American football safety Cedric Thompson for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL) also grew up in Bombay Beach, California.[37][38][39][40] He became one of the primary subjects of the 2011 documentary Bombay Beach directed by Alma Har'el.[37][38][39][40] He later cited boredom in Bombay Beach as his inspiration for pro football.[37][38][39]


  • Bombay Beach is a film about some residents of the community, made by Israeli-born filmmaker Alma Har’el, and described by The New York Times as a "surreal documentary".[41] The film won first prize in the documentary section of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011.[42]
  • A 2013 promotional video for the fifth season of Animal Planet's River Monsters was filmed at Bombay Beach.[43]
  • Austrian singer Christina Stürmer used Bombay Beach as one of the settings for her video of the song Millionen Lichter (a million lights).[44]
  • In the CBS police procedural series The Mentalist, the first episode of the sixth season "The Desert Rose" was filmed in Bombay Beach, California.[45] The production team created a sign for the fictional "Borrego Gas Diner" to stand-in for the local bar and restaurant Ski Inn.[45]
  • In 2015, the film Sky opens with an unhappily married French couple on vacation in the deserts of Southern California. While visiting Bombay Beach, they mention its potential for a very large earthquake.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Bombay Beach". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 19, 2017.
  3. ^ Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 1397. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  4. ^ "Wolfram Alpha: Lowest City in America". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b Carroll, Rory (2018-04-23). "In a forgotten town by the Salton Sea, newcomers build a bohemian dream". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  6. ^ Bombay Beach, California Population 2020
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  8. ^ Polar Inertia
  9. ^ Salton Sea - Ghost Town Lake in the Desert
  10. ^ Bombay Beach CA Rediscovered
  11. ^ Interactive Map of the San Andreas Fault - Thule Scientific
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  13. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Bombay Beach CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  14. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  15. ^ "Senators". State of California. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  16. ^ "Members Assembly". State of California. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  17. ^ "California's 51st Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  18. ^ "As the Salton Sea shrinks, it leaves behind a toxic reminder of the cost of making a desert bloom". Food and Environment Reporting Network. 2020-01-13. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  19. ^ "Salton Sea +20". Pacific Institute. 2019-09-13. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  20. ^ Whittled, rotted, and abandoned: How Bombay Beach has gone from apocalyptic wasteland to offbeat art hub, On the edge of a toxic desert lake, an emerging artist community is slowly changing the perception of a forgotten town
  21. ^ Stuart, Gwynedd (2019-03-26). "For One Weekend a Year, a Tiny Town on the Salton Sea Becomes a Mecca for Artists and Partiers". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  22. ^ POST 801, BOMBAY BEACH, CA
  23. ^ Killian, Chris (August 8, 2013). "The Dying Sea". WMUK. Western Michigan University. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  24. ^ Murphy, Tim (September 21, 2010). "The Salton Sea: Not for Everyone". Mother Jones. Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  25. ^ "Toxic Pollution is Souring the Salton Sea's Economy" (Web page). San Diego State University. January 3–10, 1993. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  26. ^ Taete, Jamie Lee Curtis (September 26, 2013). "I Went to California's Post-Apocalyptic Beach Town". Vice. Vice Media. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  27. ^ Walker, Tim (March 13, 2015). "Postcard from... Bombay Beach". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  28. ^ Zimmerman, Janet (December 18, 2014). "Salton Sea struggles to survive". The Press-Enterprise. Digital First Media. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  29. ^ Bombay Beach Biennale Season
  30. ^ [ Bombay Beach Gets Lit A festival and library bring another wave of culture to the resurgent town on the Salton Sea]
  31. ^ a b Artchipel staff (July 22, 2011). "Tumblr Artist Florian-Ayala Fauna". L'Artchipel. Tumblr. Retrieved March 30, 2017. Grew up in California, Bombay Beach made a big impact on her childhood and becomes a major influence in her life.
  32. ^ Downing, Andy (27 December 2019). "Dark electronic duo uncertain can still see the light". Columbus Alive. Gannett Co., Inc. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  33. ^ a b Perla, Cory (August 17, 2016). "Spotlight: Uncertain". The Public. Buffalo Public Media, LLC. Archived from the original on August 26, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016. At the age of five, Fauna moved from Virginia to Bombay Beach in Southern California, near the Salton Sea, which she describes as a horrible place.
  34. ^ D & d (27 November 2019). ""Bombay Beach" by The Dead Century – A Song Feature". Indie Obsessive. Blogspot. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  35. ^ Muilenburg, Wes (22 November 2019). "The Dead Century - "Bombay Beach"". Ear Coffee. Blogspot. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  36. ^ Scott, Jason (27 November 2019). "Taste Test: The Dead Century recount the mystery around 'Bombay Beach'". B-Sides & Badlands. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  37. ^ a b c Joe Christensen (October 20, 2014). "Out of nowhere: U football player comes from dusty California outpost". Star Tribune. Star Tribune Media Company LLC. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  38. ^ a b c Thomas Galicia (May 2, 2015). "CEDRIC THOMPSON TO MIAMI DOLPHINS: FULL DRAFT-PICK BREAKDOWN". Bleacher Report. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  39. ^ a b c Hal Habib (May 22, 2015). "Bombay Beach to South Beach: Dolphins' Cedric Thompson a survivor". The Palm Beach Post. Cox Enterprises. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  40. ^ a b Chris Perkins (May 19, 2017). "Dolphins rookie Ced Thompson has overcome, overachieved". Sun-Sentinel. tronc. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  41. ^ Holden, Stephen (October 13, 2011). "Last Resort Remains an Oasis of Dreams". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  42. ^ "Awards for Bombay Beach". January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  43. ^ Alvarez, Celeste (January 29, 2013). "Local beach creates perfect atmosphere for 'River Monster' promo". Imperial Valley Press. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  44. ^ ""Millionen Lichter" - Das Video ist da". Archived from the original on March 21, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  45. ^ a b Adami, Chelcey (July 27, 2013). "'The Mentalist' arrives in Bombay Beach". ivpressonline. Imperial Valley Press. Archived from the original on August 5, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  46. ^ "Sky (2015) - Filming Locations". IMDb. Retrieved 22 August 2016.

External links[edit]