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Palm Springs

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Palm Springs

For the village in Florida, see Palm Springs, Florida.
City of Palm Springs

Aerial view of south west Palm Springs (facing south), with the Canyon Country Club in the center

Location in Riverside County

Coordinates: 33°49′26″N 116°31′49″W / 33.82389°N 116.53028°W / 33.82389; -116.53028Coordinates: 33°49′26″N 116°31′49″W / 33.82389°N 116.53028°W / 33.82389; -116.53028

Country United States
State California
County Riverside
 • Mayor Steve Pougnet
 • Total 94.975 sq mi (245.984 km2)
 • Land 94.116 sq mi (243.761 km2)
 • Water 0.859 sq mi (2.224 km2)  0.90%
Elevation 440 ft (146 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 44,552
 • Density 470/sq mi (180/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 92262–92264
Area code(s) 760 (with a 442 overlay)
FIPS code 06-55254
GNIS feature ID 1652768

Palm Springs is a desert resort city in Riverside County, California, within the Coachella Valley. It is located approximately 55 miles (89 kilometres) east of San Bernardino, 107 miles (172 kilometres) east of Los Angeles, 123 miles (198 kilometres) northeast of San Diego, and 268 miles (431 kilometres) west of Phoenix, Arizona. The population was 44,552 as of the 2010 census. Palm Springs covers approximately 94 square miles, making it the largest city in the county by land area.

Golf, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, biking, and hiking in the nearby desert and mountain areas are major forms of recreation in Palm Springs.[2]



Native American settlement

Archaeological research has shown that the Cahuilla people have lived in the area for the past 350–500 years. The Cahuilla name for the area was "Se-Khi" (boiling water). When the Agua Caliente Reservation was established by the United States government in 1896, the reservation land was composed of alternating sections (640 acres) of land laid out across the desert in a checkerboard pattern. The alternating, non-reservation sections, were granted to the Southern Pacific Railroad as an incentive to bring rail lines through the open desert.

Presently the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is composed of several smaller bands who live in the modern day Coachella Valley and San Gorgonio Pass areas. The Agua Caliente Reservation occupies 32,000 acres (13,000 ha), of which 6,700 acres (2,700 ha) lie within the city limits, making the Agua Caliente band the city's largest landowner. (Tribal enrollment is currently estimated at between 296 and 365 people.)

Mexican explorers

As of 1821 Mexico was independent of Spain and in March 1823 the Mexican Monarchy ended. That same year (in December) Mexican diarist José María Estudillo and Brevet Captain José Romero were sent to find a route from Sonora to Alta California; on their expedition they first recorded the existence of "Agua Caliente" at Palm Springs, California.[3][4]:30 With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the region was ceded to the United States in 1848.

Later 19th century

Early names and white settlers

One possible origin of palm in the place name comes from early Spanish explorers who referred to the area as La Palma de la Mano de Dios or "The Palm of God's hand".[5] The earliest use of the name "Palm Springs" is from United States Topographical Engineers who used the term in 1853 maps.[6] According to William Bright, when the word "palm" appears in Californian place names it usually refers to the native California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera, which is abundant in the Palm Springs area.[7] Other early names were "Palmetto Spring" and "Big Palm Springs".[8]

The first white resident in Palm Springs itself was Jack Summers who ran the stagecoach station in 1862.[9]:44, 149 Fourteen years later (1876) the Southern Pacific railroad was laid 6 miles to the north isolating the station.[9]:17 In 1880 local Indian Pedro Chino was selling parcels near the springs to William Van Slyke and Mathew Bryne in a series of questionable transactions; who in turn brought in W. R. Porter to help market their property through the "Palm City Land and Water Company".[4]:275 By 1885, when San Francisco attorney (later known as "judge") John Guthrie McCallum began buying property in Palm Springs, the name was already in wide acceptance. The area was named "Palm Valley" when McCallum incorporated the "Palm Valley Land and Water Company" with partners O.C. Miller, H.C. Campbell, and physician James Adams.[4]:280[10][11]

Land development and drought

McCallum, who had brought his ill son to the dry climate for health, brought in irrigation advocate Dr. Oliver Wozencroft and engineer J. P. Lippincott to help construct a canal from the Whitewater River to fruit orchards on his property.[4]:276–9 He also asked Dr. Welwood Murray to establish a hotel across the street from his residence. Murray did so in 1886 (and later became a famous horticulturalist).[4]:280 The crops and irrigation systems suffered flooding in 1893 from record rainfall, and then an 11-year drought (1894–1905) caused further damage.[3]:40

20th century

Resort development

The city became a fashionable resort in the 1900s[12] when health tourists arrived with conditions that required dry heat. In 1906 naturalist and travel writer George Wharton James' two volume The Wonders of the Colorado Desert described Palm Springs as having "great charms and attractiveness"[13]:278–81 and included an account of his stay at Murray's hotel.[14] As James also described, Palm Springs was more comfortable in its microclimate because the area was covered in the shadow of Mount San Jacinto to the west[10] and in the winter the mountains block cold winds from the San Gorgonio pass.[15] Early illustrious visitors included John Muir and his daughters, U.S. Vice President Charles Fairbanks, and Fanny Stevenson, widow of Robert Louis Stevenson; still, Murray's hotel was closed in 1909 and torn down in 1954.[3]:45 Nellie N. Coffman and her physician husband Harry established The Desert Inn as a hotel and sanitarium in 1909;[16][17] it was expanded as a modern hotel in 1927 and continued on until 1967.[3]:Ch. 13[18][19]

James' Wonders of the Colorado Desert was followed in 1920 by J. Smeaton Chase's Our Araby: Palm Springs and the Garden of the Sun, which also served to promote the area.[20] In 1924 Pearl McCallum (daughter of Judge McCallum) returned to Palm Springs and built the Oasis Hotel with her husband Austin G. McManus; the Modern/Art Deco resort was designed by Lloyd Wright and featured a 40-foot tower.[3]:68–9[21] The next major hotel was the El Mirador, a large and luxurious resort that attracted the biggest movie stars; opening in 1927, its prominent feature was a 68-foot tall Renaissance style tower.[3]:Ch. 23[22] Silent film star Fritzi Ridgeway's 100-room Hotel del Tahquitz was built in 1929, next to the "Fool's Folly" mansion built by Chicago heiress Lois Kellogg.[23] Golfing was available at the O'Donnell 9 hole course (1926) and the El Mirador (1929) course (see Golf below). Hollywood movie stars were attracted by the hot dry, sunny weather and seclusion – they built homes and estates in the Warm Sands, The Mesa, and Historic Tennis Club neighborhoods (see Neighborhoods below). About 20,000 visitors came to the area in 1922.[24]

In the 1930s estate building expanded into the Movie Colony neighborhoods, Tahquitz River Estates, and Las Palmas neighborhoods. Actors Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy opened the Racquet Club in 1934[3]:Ch. 25[25][26] and Pearl McCallum opened the Tennis Club in 1937.[21] Nightclubs were set up as well, with Al Wertheimer opening The Dunes outside of Palm Springs in 1934[3]:254 and the Chi Chi opening in 1936.[27] Southern California's first self-contained shopping center was established in Palm Springs as the Plaza Shopping Center in 1936.[28]

Pre-World War II Coachella Valley Resorts and Hotels
Name City Year Established Year Closed/Demolished Notes and references[29]
Agua Caliente Bathouse Palm Springs 1880s Present day Commercial use since the 1880s; bathhouse constructed 1916; site is now the Agua Caliente Spa Resort Casino, built in 1963[30]:171
Southern Pacific Indio depot Indio 1880s Burned down in 1966 Contained a "rough resort/hotel"[31][32]:12
Hotel and tent houses Palm Springs 1910s Unknown Operated by David Manley Blanchard (tent houses in late 1800s)[30]
Hotel Indio Indio 1925 2004 (Burned) Opened by E.R. Cooper; had 60 rooms (40 with baths)
La Quinta Hotel La Quinta 1927 Present day Built by William Morgan; designed by Gordon Kaufmann; now the La Quinta Resort and Club
Goff Hotel Palm Springs 1928 (circa) [33]
Pepper Tree Inn Palm Springs 1924 Also described as the Dr. Reid's Sanitarium/Matthews-Andrea-Pepper Tree Inn[34]
Ramona Hotel Palm Springs 1910s Renamed in 1921 as the Palm Springs Hotel by the Foldesy family, although not related to original Palm Spring Hotel[35]
Sunshine Court Palm Springs 1920s 2000s (Razed) Built by Dr. J. J. Crocker and used by golfers at the O'Donnell Golf Club[35]
Hotel La Palma Palm Springs 1910s Depicted on Palm Canyon Drive in late teens/early 1920s;[32]:118 later became the El Ray Hotel, and then razed when Chi Chi nightclub was built in 1936[30]:143, 166
The Orchid Tree Inn Palm Springs 1934 Present day 45 rooms[3]:247
Estrella Resort and Spa Palm Springs 1933 Present day Now the Viceroy Palm Springs; 74 rooms[3]:247
Ingleside Inn Palm Springs 1935 Present day Original estate built in the 1920s; operated as the Ingleside Inn by Ruth Hardy; now operated by Mel Haber
Palm Springs Tennis Club Palm Springs 1937 Present day Area is now the Tennis Club Condominiums[35]
La Bella Villas Palm Springs 1939 Present day Six Southwest-style villas[3]:247
Desert Hot Springs Mineral Bathhouse Desert Hot Springs 1941 Demolished Developed by L.W. & Lillian T. Coffee; burned in 1947 and rebuilt[36][37]
The Oasis Hotel Palm Springs 1925 Present day Built on grounds owned by the late John Gutherie McCallum; concrete structure designed by Lloyd Wright[38]
Hotel del Tahquitz Palm Springs 1929 1958 Built by movie star Fritzi Ridgeway; had 100 rooms
Deep Well Guest Ranch Palm Springs 1929 1948 Operated by Frank and Melba Bennet; converted to housing development[3]:148[39]
Smoke Tree Ranch Palm Springs 1925 [35]
Monte Vista Apartments Palm Springs 1921 2005 Operated as a hotel by John and Freda Miller, and then their sons, Frank and John.[24]
El Mirador Hotel Palm Springs 1927 (Converted) Had 200+ rooms; went bankrupt in 1930, bought by new owners; taken over as US Army Torney General Hospital in 1942; reopened as hotel in 1952; became the Desert Regional Medical Center in 1972
The Desert Inn Palm Springs 1909 1967 Built by Nellie Coffman; originally a tent-house resort and sanitarium,[40] developed into 35 buildings and bungalows; owned by actress Marion Davies from 1955 to 1960; original building demolished in 1960; officially closed in 1953[34]
Colonial House Palm Springs 1936 Present day With 56 rooms, was built by Purple Gang member Al Wertheimer with a reputed speakeasy and brothel; once known as the Howard Manor; now the Colony Palms Hotel
Welwood Murray's Palm Springs Hotel Palm Springs 1886 1909 Demolished in 1954[41]

World War II

When the United States entered World War II, Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley were important in the war effort. The original airfield near Palm Springs became a staging area for the Air Corps Ferrying Command's 21st Ferrying Group in November 1941 and a new airfield was built ½ mile from the old site. The new airfield,[33]:43 designated Palm Springs Army Airfield,[42] was completed in early 1942. Personnel from the Air Transport Command 560th Army Air Forces Base Unit stayed at the La Paz Guest Ranch and training was conducted at the airfield was by the 72nd and 73rd Ferrying Squadrons. Later training was provided by the IV Fighter Command 459th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron.

Eight months before Pearl Harbor Day, the El Mirador Hotel was fully booked and adding new facilities.[43] After the war started, the U.S. government bought the hotel from owner Warren Phinney for $750,000[44] and converted it into the Torney General Hospital,[45] with Italian prisoners of war serving as kitchen help and orderlies in 1944 and 1945.[34] Through the war it was staffed with 1,500 personnel and treated some 19,000 patients.[26]:55

General Patton's Desert Training Center encompassed the entire region, with its headquarters in Camp Young at the Chiriaco Summit and an equipment depot maintained by the 66th Ordnance in present day Palm Desert.[33]:40

Post World War II

Architectural modernists flourished with commissions from the stars, using the city to explore architectural innovations, new artistic venues, and an exotic back-to-the-land experiences. Inventive architects designed unique vacation houses, such as steel houses with prefabricated panels and folding roofs, a glass-and-steel house in a boulder-strewn landscape, and a carousel house that turned to avoid the sun's glare.[46]

In 1946 Richard Neutra designed the Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann House. A modernist classic, this mostly glass residence incorporated the latest technological advances in building materials, using natural lighting and floating planes and flowing space for proportion and detail.[47] In recent years an energetic preservation program has protected and enhanced many classic buildings.

Culver (2010) argues that Palm Springs architecture became the model for mass-produced suburban housing, especially in the Southwest. This "Desert Modern" style was a high-end architectural style featuring open-design plans, wall-to-wall carpeting, air-conditioning, swimming pools, and very large windows. As Culver concludes, "While environmentalists might condemn desert modern, the masses would not. Here, it seemed, were houses that fully merged inside and outside, providing spaces for that essential component of Californian—and indeed middle-class American—life: leisure. While not everyone could have a Neutra masterpiece, many families could adopt aspects of Palm Springs modern."[48]

Hollywood values permeated the resort as it combined celebrity, health, new wealth, and sex. As Culver (2010) explains: "The bohemian sexual and marital mores already apparent in Hollywood intersected with the resort atmosphere of Palm Springs, and this new, more open sexuality would gradually appear elsewhere in national tourist culture."[48] To purify the environment city government, stimulated by real estate developers systematically removed and excluded poor people and Indians.[49][50]

Palm Springs was pictured by the French photographer Robert Doisneau in November 1960 as part of an assignment for Fortune[51] on the construction of golf courses in this particularly dry and hot area of the Colorado desert. Doisneau submitted around 300 slides following his ten-day stay depicting the lifestyle of wealthy retirees and Hollywood stars in the 1960s. At the time, Palm Springs counted just nineteen courses, whereas the city now has "One hundred and twenty-five golf courses, 2,250 holes, or rather continually thirsty pits, which soak up 1.2 million gallons of water just to survive."[52]

Year-round living

Similar to the pre-war era, Palm Springs remained popular with the rich and famous of Hollywood, as well as retirees and Canadian tourists.[53] Between 1947 and 1965, the Alexander Construction Company built some 2,200 houses in Palm Springs effectively doubling its housing capacity.

As the 1970s drew to a close, increasing numbers of retirees moved to the Coachella Valley. As a result, Palm Springs began to evolve from a virtual ghost town in the summer to a year-round community. Businesses and hotels that used to close for the months of July and August instead remained open all summer. As commerce grew, so too did the number of families with children.

The recession of 1973–1975 impacted Palm Springs as many of the wealthy residents had to cut back on their spending.[54] Later in the 1970s numerous Chicago mobsters invested $50 million in the Palm Springs area, buying houses, land, and businesses.[55] While Palm Springs faced competition from the desert cities to the east in the later 1980s,[56] it has continued to prosper into the 21st century.[57]

Spring break

Since the early 1950s[58] the city had been a popular spring break resort. Glamorized as a destination in the 1963 movie Palm Springs Weekend,[59] the number of visitors grew and at times the gatherings had problems. In 1969 an estimated 15,000 people had gathered for a concert at the Palm Springs Angel Stadium and 300 were arrested for drunkenness or disturbing the peace.[60] In the 1980s 10,000+ college students would visit the city and form crowds and parties – and another rampage occurred in 1986[61] when Palm Springs Police in riot gear had to put down the rowdy crowd.[62] In 1990, due to complaints by residents, mayor Sonny Bono and the city council closed the city's Palm Canyon Drive to Spring Breakers and the downtown businesses lost money normally filled by the tourists.[63]


Tourism is a major factor in the city's economy with 1.6 million visitors in 2011.[24] The city has over 130 hotels and resorts, numerous bed & breakfast inns and over 100 restaurants and dining spots.[64]

In the economic recession of the late 2000s/early 2010s, Palm Springs is revitalizing its Downtown or "the Village". Rebuilding started with the demolition of the Bank of America building in January 2012, with the Desert Fashion Plaza scheduled for demolition later in 2012.[65]

The movement behind Mid-Century modern architecture (1950s/60s era) in Palm Springs is backed by architecture enthuasists, artistic designers and local historians to preserve many of Central Palm Springs' buildings and houses of famous celebrities, businessmen and politicians.

Geography and environment

Palm Springs is located at 33°49′26″N 116°31′49″W / 33.82389°N 116.53028°W / 33.82389; -116.53028 (33.823990, −116.530339) in the Sonoran Desert. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 95.0 square miles (246 km2), of which 94.1 square miles (244 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (1%) is water. Located in the Coachella Valley desert region, Palm Springs is sheltered by the San Bernardino Mountains to the north, the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south, by the San Jacinto Mountains to the west and by the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the east.


Palm Springs has a mostly hot, and usually dry climate, with over 300 days of sunshine and around 4.83 inches (122.7 mm) of rain annually.[66] The winter months are warm, with a majority of days reaching 70 °F (21 °C) and several in January and February reaching 80 °F (27 °C), while there are 17 nights annually dipping to or below 40 °F (4 °C);[66] freezing temperatures occur in less than half of years. The lowest temperature recorded is 19 °F (−7 °C), on January 22, 1937.[67] Summer often sees daytime temperatures above 110 °F (43 °C) coupled with warm overnight lows remaining above 80 °F (27 °C). The mean annual temperature is 74.6 °F (23.7 °C). There are 180 days with a high reaching 90 °F (32 °C), and 100 °F (38 °C) can be seen on 116 days.[66] The highest temperature on record in Palm Springs is 123 °F (51 °C), most recently achieved on July 28 and 29, 1995.[68] A low of 105.1 °F (40.6 °C), was recorded on July 13, 1985, one of the highest nighttime lows recorded on earth.[69]

Climate data for Palm Springs Fire Station 2, California (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 95
Average high °F (°C) 70.8
Average low °F (°C) 45.4
Record low °F (°C) 19
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.15
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 3.1 3.2 1.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.6 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.8 1.9 14.4
Source: NOAA (extremes 1917–present)[67]


The locale features a variety of native Low Desert flora and fauna. A notable tree occurring in the wild and under cultivation is the California Fan Palm, Washingtonia filifera.[70]


The City of Palm Springs has developed a program to identify distinctive neighborhoods in the community.[71] Of the 33 neighborhoods,[72] 7 have historical and cultural significance.[73]

Movie Colony neighborhoods

The Movie Colony is just east of Palm Canyon Drive.[74] The Movie Colony East neighborhood extends further east from the Ruth Hardy Park.[75] These areas started growing in the 1930s as Hollywood movie stars built their smaller getaways from their Los Angeles area estates. Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Estee Lauder, and Bing Crosby built homes in these neighborhoods.

El Rancho Vista Estates

In the 1960s, Robert Fey built 70 homes designed by Donald Wexler and Ric Harrison in the El Rancho Vista Estates.[76] Noted residents included Jack LaLanne and comic Andy Dick.

Warm Sands

Historic homes in the Warm Sands area date from the 1920s and many were built from adobe.[77] It also includes small resorts and the Ramon Mobile Home Park. Noted residents have included screenwriter Walter Koch, artist Paul Grimm, activist Cleve Jones and actor Wesley Eure.

The Mesa

The Mesa started off as a gated community developed in the 1920s near the Indian Canyons.[78] Noted residents have included Zane Grey, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Suzanne Somers, Herman Woulk, Barry Manilow and Trina Turk. Distinctive homes include Wexler's "butterfly houses" and the "Streamline Moderne Ship of the Desert".[79]

Tahquitz River Estates

Some of the homes in this neighborhood date from the 1930s. The area was owned by Pearl McCallum McManus and she started building homes in the neighborhood after World War II ended. Dr. William Scholl (Dr. Scholl's foot products) owned a 10 acre estate here. Today the neighborhood is the largest neighborhood organization with 600 homes and businesses within its boundaries.[80]

Sunmor Estates

During World War II, the original Sunmor Estates area was the western portion the Palm Springs Army Airfield.[81] Homes here were developed by Robert Higgins and the Alexander Construction Company. Actor and former mayor Frank Bogert bought his home for $16,000 and lived there for more than 50 years.

Historic Tennis Club

Impoverished artist Carl Eytel first set up his cabin on what would become the Tennis Club in 1937. Another artist in the neighborhood, who built his Moroccan-style "Dar Marrac" estate in 1924, was Gordon Coutts.[82] Other estates include Samuel Untermyer's Mediterranean style villa (now The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn),[83] the Casa Cody Inn, built by Harriet and Harold William Cody (cousin of Buffalo Bill Cody) and the Ingleside Inn,[84] built in the 1920s by the Humphrey Birge family. The neighborhood now has about 400 homes, condos, apartments, inns and restaurants.[85]

Las Palmas neighborhoods

To the west of Palm Canyon Drive are the Vista Las Palmas[86] and Old Las Palmas[87] neighborhoods. These areas also feature distinctive homes and celebrity estates.



Historical population
Census Pop.

The 2010 United States Census[89] reported that Palm Springs had a population of 44,552. The population density was 469.1 people per square mile (181.1/km²). The racial makeup of Palm Springs was 33,720 (75.7%) White (64.7% Non-Hispanic White), 1,982 (4.4%) African American, 467 (1.0%) Native American, 1,971 (4.4%) Asian, 71 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 4,949 (11.1%) from other races, and 1,392 (3.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11,286 persons (25.3%).

The Census reported that 44,013 people (98.8% of the population) lived in households, 343 (0.8%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 196 (0.4%) were institutionalized.

There were 22,746 households, out of which 3,337 (14.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 5,812 (25.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1,985 (8.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 868 (3.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,031 (4.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 2,307 (10.1%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 10,006 households (44.0%) were made up of individuals and 4,295 (18.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.93. There were 8,665 families (38.1% of all households); the average family size was 2.82.

The population was spread out with 6,125 people (13.7%) under the age of 18, 2,572 people (5.8%) aged 18 to 24, 8,625 people (19.4%) aged 25 to 44, 15,419 people (34.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 11,811 people (26.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 51.6 years. For every 100 females there were 129.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 133.8 males.

There were 34,794 housing units at an average density of 366.3 per square mile (141.4/km²), of which 13,349 (58.7%) were owner-occupied, and 9,397 (41.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 6.7%; the rental vacancy rate was 15.5%. 24,948 people (56.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 19,065 people (42.8%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the 2000 census,[90] there were 42,807 people, 20,516 households, and 9,457 families residing in the city. The population density was 454.2 people per square mile (175.4/km2). There were 30,823 housing units at an average density of 327.0 per square mile (126.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.3% White, 3.9% African American, 0.9% Native American, 3.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 9.8% from other races, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.7% of the population.

16.3% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.0% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.9% were non-families. 41.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.1 and the average family size was 2.9.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.0% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 26.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 107.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,973 and the median income for a family was $45,318. Males had a median income of $33,999 versus $27,461 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,957. The relatively low income reflects the presence of a large retired population and a large population of owners of second homes whose income is not reported. About 11.2% of families and 15.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.2% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.

Same-sex couples

Palm Springs' large LGBT community is one of the 10 cities and towns in the United States with the highest concentration of same-sex couples.[91][92] In the city, 7.2% of households belong to a same-sex couple compared to the national average of 1%. This makes Palm Springs the city with the fifth largest percentage of same-sex households in the nation.[91]:27 Former mayor Ron Oden estimated that about a third of Palm Springs is gay.[93] Over various times, the city has catered to LGBT tourists.[94]


Though celebrities still retreat to Palm Springs, many today establish residences in other areas of the Coachella Valley. The city's economy now relies on tourism, and local government is largely supported by related retail sales taxes and the TOT (transient occupancy tax). It is a city of numerous festivals, conventions, and international events including the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The world's largest rotating aerial tramcars[95] (cable cars) can be found at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. These cars, built by Von Roll Tramways,[95] ascend from Chino Canyon two-and-a-half miles up a steep incline to the station at 8,516 feet (2,596 m). The San Jacinto Wilderness is accessible from the top of the tram and there is a restaurant with notable views.

The Palm Springs Convention Center underwent a multi-million-dollar expansion and remodeling under Mayor Will Kleindienst. The City Council Sub-Committee of Mayor Kleindienst and City Council Member Chris Mills selected Fentress Bradburn Architects[96] from Denver, Colorado for the redesign.

Numerous hotels, restaurants and attractions cater to tourists, while shoppers can find a variety of high-end boutiques in downtown and uptown Palm Springs. The city is home to 20 clothing-optional resorts catering to gay men.[97]

Notable businesses

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

  • The Palm Springs International Film Festival and Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films ("ShortFest") present movie star-filled, red-carpet affairs in January and June respectively.
  • Modernism Week, in February, is a ten-day event featuring mid-century modern architecture through films, lectures, tours and its Modernism Show & Sale.[100]
  • Agua Caliente Cultural Museum presents its annual Festival of Native Film & Culture[101] at the Camelot Theaters in central Palm Springs.
  • The Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, known as "The Dinah",[10] is a LGBT event billed as the "Largest Girl Party in the World" held each March.
  • A circuit White Party is held in April, attracting 10,000 visitors.[10][102]
  • The Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival,[103] co-sponsored by the Palm Springs Cultural Center,[104] is held in May with screenings at the Camelot Theater.
  • Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week is held every June, featuring 10 days of dining at over 100 restaurants in the Coachella Valley.[105]
  • The Palm Springs Black History Committee celebrates Black History Month with a parade and town fair in February.[106]
  • The Caballeros, a gay men's chorus and member of GALA Choruses, has presented concerts since 1999.[107]

The following three parades, held on Palm Canyon Drive, were created by former Mayor Will Kleindienst:

Ongoing cultural events

The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies is a stage-show at the historic Plaza Theatre which features performers that are over the age of 55. Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies is a 1997 Mel Damski short documentary film about the Follies. Riff Markowitz is the managing director, MC, and co-founder of the Follies.

Starting in 2004, the city worked with downtown businesses to develop the weekly Palm Springs VillageFest. The downtown street fair has been a regular Thursday evening event, drawing tourists and locals alike to Palm Canyon Drive to stroll amid the food and craft vendors.[113]

Events related to films and film-craft are sponsored by the Desert Film Society.[114]

Museums and other points of interest

Art in the city

The city council has established a 7 member commission to promote art in the city.[126] The commission has sponsored several notable public art projects in the city, including:[127]

  • Tony Berlant's diptych mural "A Personal History of Palm Springs" (Convention Center lobby)
  • Bill Arms' "The Batter" (baseball stadium)
  • Felipe Castaneda's "Standing Woman" (Palm Canyon in front of the Historical Society)
  • Doug Hyde's "Agua Caliente Women" (corner of Tahquitz and Indian Canyon Way)
  • Damian Priour's "Flight" (entrance to Bird Medical Technologies on Gene Autry Drive)
  • Michael Todd's "Daimaru XII" (Convention Center; on lease from the Palm Springs Art Museum)
  • Emmanuil Snitkovsky's "Lucy Ricardo" (Tahquitz Canyon at Palm Canyon)
  • Richard Wyatt's "Desert Highland Mural Project" (Desert Highland Unity Center, Tramview Road)
  • Phill Evans' "Desert Reflections" (City Dog Park)
  • James Jared Taylor III's "Nines and Elevens" (Demuth Park)
  • George Montgomery's "Charlie Farrell" (Palm Springs International Airport)
  • David Morris' "Rainmaker" fountain (Frances Stevens Park)
  • Blue McRigh's "Lawn Chair" (Pepper Tree Inn)
  • Gary Slater's "Whirlwind" (Ruth Hardy Park)
  • John Mishler's "Wave Rhythms" (Sunrise Park)
  • John Clement's "Squeeze" (temporary placement: noted in Art In America's 2006–2007 Annual Review)
  • Delos Van Earle's[128] "Jungle Red" (Warm Sands neighborhood)[129]

Numerous galleries and studios are located in the city and region.[130] The California Art Club has a chapter in Palm Springs.[131] The Desert Art Center of Coachella Valley was established in Palm Springs in 1950.[132]



Palm Springs is home to the Palm Springs POWER, a semi-pro collegiate league baseball team composed of college all-stars of the Southern California Collegiate Baseball Association. It has a winter league baseball team, the Palm Springs Chill of the California Winter League (2010) consists of five other teams: the Power winter team, the Canada A's or "Cats", Coachella Valley Snowbirds, Palm Desert Coyotes and the Oriental Express. Formerly they were of the Arizona Winter League which includes the Blythe Heat and the Bluesox of Blythe, California. The League plays its games in Palm Springs Stadium and also in Boone Field of the College of the Desert in Palm Desert.

The Palm Springs stadium was once the spring training site of the Major League Baseball California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) of the American League from 1961 to 1993. The stadium also hosted spring training of the Oakland A's and Chicago White Sox, and the 1950s minor league Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League also trained there.


The Palm Springs area features a number of sporting events including the BNP Paribas Open, one of the most significant tennis events in the world, after the four Grand Slam tournaments.

The Easter Bowl, sponsored by the United States Tennis Association[133] for Juniors has been held in the Palm Springs area in 2008, 2009, and 2010.[134]


With more golf courses than any other region in California, Coachella Valley is the most popular golf vacation destination in California. Early golf courses in Palm Springs were the O'Donnell Golf Club (built by oil magnate Thomas A. O'Donnell)[135] and the El Mirador Hotel course, both of which opened in the 1920s.[3]:120 After the Cochran-Odlum (Indio) and Shadow Mountain pitch and putt courses were built after World II, the first 18-hole golf course in the area was the Thunderbird Country Club, established 1951 in Rancho Mirage.[136][137] Thunderbird was designed by golf course architects Lawrence Hughes and Johnny Dawson[138] and in 1955 it hosted the 11th Ryder Cup championship.

In the 1970s the area had over 40 courses and in 2001 the 100th course was opened.[3]:121 The area is also home to the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (formerly the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic), the LPGA's Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Canadian Tour's Desert Dunes Classic.[139]


The Palm Springs AYSO Region 80[140] plays in Section 1H of the American Youth Soccer Organization.[141]


The Desert Fire Cats women's football team plays in Palm Springs. They were scheduled to play in the Independent Women's Football League in 2011, but the team's season was cancelled and they moved to play as an affiliate team in the Women's Spring Football League.

Parks and recreation

City parks

  • City parks include:[142]
    • Baristo Park
    • DeMuth Park
    • Desert Healthcare (Wellness) Park
    • James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center[143]
    • Dog Park (behind city hall)[144]
    • Frances Stevens Park
    • Ruth Hardy Park
    • Sunrise Park
    • Victoria Park


In 1931 the Desert Riders was established.[149] Starting off as a social organization for the cream of Palm Springs society, the group sponsors horseback riding and trail building for equestrians, hikers, and bicyclists.[150] The Desert Riders were also significant in providing combination chuckwagon meals and rides through nearby canyons to hotel guests as Palm Springs developed its tourist industry.[151]



Business owners in the village first established a Palm Springs Board of Trade in 1918, followed by a chamber of commerce; the City itself was established by election in 1938[30][152] and converted to a charter city, with a charter adopted by the voters in 1994.[153]

Presently the city has a council-manager type government, with a five-person city council that hires a city manager and city attorney. The mayor is directly elected and serves a four-year term. The other four council members also serve four-year terms, with staggered elections. The city is considered a full-service city, in that it staffs and manages its own police and fire departments including parks and recreation programs, public library,[154] sewer system and wastewater treatment plant, international airport, and planning and building services.

The city government is a member of the Southern California Association of Governments.[155]

The current mayor is Steve Pougnet, elected in 2007 and returned to office in 2011. Pougnet succeeded Ron Oden, the city's first African-American and openly gay mayor in the city's history (2003–07). Palm Springs' longest-tenured mayor was Frank Bogert (1958–66 and 1982–88), but the best-known mayor in the city's history was Sonny Bono. Bono served from 1988 to 1992 and was eventually elected to the U.S. Congress.


Palm Springs is in Supervisorial District 4 of Riverside County represented by John J. Benoit.[156]

In the 1980s a plan for a new county was proposed for eastern Riverside County. The proposed Cahuilla County, California was not adopted.


In the state legislature, Palm Springs is located in the 37th Senate District, represented by Republican Bill Emmerson and in the 80th Assembly District, represented by Democrat V. Manuel Perez.[157]


Palm Springs is located in California's 36th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI (Partisan Voting Index) of R +3 (Republican +3%)[158] and is represented by Democrat Raul Ruiz.


Public schools

Public education in Palm Springs is under the jurisdiction of the Palm Springs Unified School District, an independent district with five board members.[159] The Palm Springs High School[160] is the oldest school in the district, built in 1938. Originally it was a K–12 school in 1920s and had the College of the Desert campus from 1958 to 1964. The Raymond Cree Middle School[161] opened in the 1930s.

Elementary schools in Palm Springs include:[162]

Alternative education is provided by the Ramon Alternative Center.[165]

Private schools

Private schools in Palm Springs and nearby communities include Desert Chapel Christian School (K-12), Desert Adventist Academy (K–8), Sacred Heart School (PS-8), St. Theresa (PreK–8), King's School – formerly known as Palm Valley School (K–8), Desert Christian (K–12), and the Marywood-Palm Valley School.[166]

In 2006 the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino built the Xavier College Preparatory High School[167] in Palm Desert.

Post-secondary education

The Desert Community College District, headquartered with its main campus, College of the Desert, is located in Palm Desert. California State University, San Bernardino and University of California, Riverside used to have satellite campuses available within the College of the Desert campus, but now have their own buildings in Palm Desert.

Private post-secondary education institutions include Brandman University (branch in Palm Desert),[168] California Desert Trial Academy College of Law (in Indio),[169] Kaplan College (Palm Springs),[170] University of Phoenix (Palm Desert),[171] Mayfield College (Cathedral City),[172] and California Nurses Educational Institute (Palm Springs).[173]


Radio and television

Palm Springs is the 144th largest TV market as defined by AC Nielsen. The Palm Springs DMA is unique among TV markets as it is entirely located within only a small portion of Riverside County. Also, while most areas received their first local television stations during the 1950s, Palm Springs did not receive its first TV stations until October 1968 when stations KPLM-TV (now KESQ) and KMIR-TV debuted. Prior to that time, Palm Springs was served by TV stations from the Los Angeles market, which were carried on the local cable system that began operations in the 1950s and which predated the emergence of local broadcast stations by more than a decade.

TV stations serving the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area include:

  • KESQ-TV ABC, Channel 42 (Channel 3 on cable)
  • KMIR-TV NBC-TV, Channel 36 (Channel 6 on cable)
  • KPSP-CD CBS, on Channel 38 (Channel 2 on cable)

The CW, Fox, My Network, PBS and other networks are covered by low power TV stations in the market.

Additionally, Palm Springs and the surrounding area are served by AM and FM radio stations including the following:

Newspapers and magazines

  • The Desert Sun is the local daily newspaper serving Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley region.
  • Desert Magazine (now published on-line) was published from 1937 to 1985 in Palm Desert.
  • The Desert Star Weekly (formerly the Desert Valley Star) is published in Desert Hot Springs.
  • The Desert Daily Guide[174] is a weekly LGBT periodical.[175]
  • Palm Springs Life is a monthly magazine; it also has publications on El Paseo Drive shopping in Palm Desert, desert area entertainment, homes, health, culture and arts, golf, plus annual issues on weddings and dining out.[176]
  • The Palm Springs Villager[177] was published in the early 20th century until 1959.[178]
  • The Palm Canyon Times was published from 1993–1996.
  • The Desert Post Weekly – Cathedral City.[179]
  • The Public Record – Palm Desert, is a business and public affairs weekly.[180]



One of the first transportation routes for Palm Springs was on the Bradshaw Trail, an historic overland stage coach route from San Bernardino to La Paz, Arizona. The Bradshaw Trail operated from 1862 to 1877.

Modern transportation services include:

Highways include:

SR 111California State Route 111, which intersects the city.
I-10Interstate 10 runs north of the city.
SR 74 – The Pines to Palms Scenic Byway (California State Route 74) runs from the coast, over the San Jacinto Mountains to nearby Palm Desert.
SR 62California State Route 62 (a Blue Star Memorial Highway) intersects I-10 north-west of the city and runs north to San Bernardino County and the Colorado River.


In 1890 the Indian Cemetery[184] is established on Tahquitz Way with the burial of Jane Augustine Patencio;[34] it is maintained by the Agua Caliente Tribe.

The Welwood Murray Cemetery[185] was started by hotel operator Welwood Murray in 1894 when his son died.[3]:46[186] It is maintained by the Palm Springs Cemetery District,[187] which also maintains the Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City.

Also in Cathedral City is the Forest Lawn Cemetery, maintained by Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries.

Notable people

Main article: List of people from Palm Springs, California

Over 300 Palm Springs residents have been recognized on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.

Modern architecture

Main article: Mid-Century modern § Mid-Century modern in Palm Springs

Besides its tradition of mid-century modern architecture, Palm Springs and the region features numerous noted architects. Other (non-Mid-Century Modern) include[188] Edward H. Fickett, Haralamb H. Georgescu, Howard Lapham, and Karim Rashid.[189]

Palm Springs in popular culture

Main article: Palm Springs in popular culture

The Palm Springs area has been a filming location, topical setting, and storyline subject for many films, television shows, and literature.

See also

Inland Empire portal

Notes and references

  1. Cielo Vista Charter School
  2. Katherine Finchy Elementary School
  3. Vista del Monte Elementary School
  4. Charles Farrell (actor)
  5. Albert Frey (architect)
  6. Hugo Montenegro (orchestra leader)
  7. Jackie Saunders (silent film actress)
  8. Herbert E. Toor (philanthropist)
  9. Virginia Valli (stage and film actress, manager of the Palm Springs Racquet Club, and spouse of Charles Farrell)

Further reading

  • Palm Springs in general, history, culture, and city
    • OCLC 14691400 and 17345784
      • (DVD)
    • (Originally published in 1961 as A Look into Palm Springs' Past by Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan Assoc. F869 P18 R5)
    • covers the city's history
    • OCLC 40762502 and 649978425 (print and on-line)
  • Cahuilla Indian further reading

External links

  • Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism page
  • Palm Springs Preservation Foundation
  • DMOZ
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