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Palm Springs.

Palm Springs History

In the late 1700s, the Spanish expanded their empire throughout California and into the desert. Despite this vast growth, the Cahuilla Indians, the original inhabitants, remained in the valley and learned how to grow corn, squash and beans by using the desert’s weather and soil to grow and prosper their nation. The Native Americans stayed in the desert until the mid 1800s when many died from a small pox outbreak.

During this time, the United States government began to develop interest in the desert valley and sent William Blake in 1853 on an expedition to this area. He helped create the first wagon route through the San Gorgonio Pass, which allowed visitors to travel to the valley. Soon after, Palm Springs was added to the Bradshaw Stage Coach Line and served as a stop between Arizona and Los Angeles. The Southern Pacific Railroad soon followed in 1877, allowing the population to grow further.

Palm Springs became a town after Judge John Guthrie McCallum bought land from the Southern Pacific Railroad and built a home in 1884. His adobe still stands in the city today. During the 1900s, other settlers quickly followed and Palm Springs developed all the necessities of a city, such as a hotel, buildings, schoolhouses and a newspaper. The town also developed its first golf course and other tennis courts and a racquet club, already turning the city into a resort-like town. The nearby town of Cathedral City also became home to gambling and casinos.

This tremendous growth led Palm Springs to consider an incorporation, which finally occurred in 1938. One year later, the total population reached 5,300 settlers and 8,000 yearly visitors.

World War II brought some changes to the usual relaxed, tourist atmosphere of the desert cities. General Patton brought his troops here for training sessions, which completely changed the environment. A hotel, El Mirador, transformed into a hospital to serve those wounded. An airfield was also constructed, which would eventually become the Palm Springs Airport.

After World War II, Palm Springs became a mecca for celebrities, causing extreme prosperity. Hollywood stars such as Frank Sinatra built homes in the area. Bob Hope was named Honorary Mayor. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Ford all visited the town.

Because of the desert weather, the golf industry flourished. In 1945, only one golf course existed, but today over 100 can be used. Many of these courses are internationally famous and designed and managed by celebrities. This sport has also brought sophistication to Palm Springs, and many upscale dining and shopping establishments were built.

As the town continued to grow, Palm Springs turned into a cosmopolitan city, with many tourists traveling from all over the world to participate in golf and relax in one of the numerous resorts. It has truly become one of California’s top spots to visit.


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