Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

The search for a lost city began with Pasadena

by Take Two®

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A sign inside the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Space Flight Operations Facility in Pasadena. Grant Slater/KPCC

To find lost cities and civilizations, sometimes you don't have to start in the wilderness.

You just have to go to Pasadena.

Two decades ago, filmmaker Steve Elkins assembled a team to chase down a legendary city thought to be somewhere in a Central American rain forest.

It's known as La Ciudad Blanca, The White City, a place Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes looked for but never found. Aviator Charles Lindbergh claimed to have seen it when flew over the region.

Elkins started his search from a lower altitude: Sequoyah School.

His son's teacher at the time had a lawyer friend. That lawyer was working with a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a different search.

Elkins heard about it, and reached out to that same scientist to see if he could use satellite data to help find La Ciudad Blanca.

Elkins talks with Take Two, along with Doug Preston who chronicled the search in his new book, "The Lost City of The Monkey God."

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