Felicity bronze sculpture
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A Frenchman’s view of human history

In Felicity, Calif., a bronze sculpture points true north to a pyramid designated as the Official Center of the World. A shadow indicates the approximate time of day on the 15-foot-diameter sundial at the entrance to the town, founded in the mid-1980s by Jacques-Andre Istel on about 2,800 acres of desert. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
Mark Hoffmann, his wife Lori and his daughter Tessa stroll past one of many granite monuments inscribed with information about humankind’s significant discoveries and inventions. In the distance is the new Church on the Hill, built on an earthen pyramid base. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
Hector Salazar, left, and Gerardo Zambrano position another 477-pound granite panel on the History of Humanity monument. The founder of the desert museum, Jaques-Andre Istel, says the monuments are engineered to last 4,000 years. “Only time will tell,” he admits. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
Jacques-Andre Istel, the “Mayor of Felicity,” and his wife Felicia, for whom the town is named. Istel, the child of French aristocrats, founded the town in the desert just off Interstate 8 near the Arizona border. Flanking a line running true north is a series of red granite walls inscribed with Istel’s version of humankind’s history. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
A poem by Pablo Neruda is inscribed on The Night, one of the many panels on the History of Humanity monument. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)