Offering year round pleasant weather, posh resorts and the chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, Palm Springs, California is the destination for nearly half a million people annually. Joining those who have strolled down historic Palm Canyon Drive and immersing yourself in the luxury of the natural mineral hot springs are only a couple of options that promise a visit filled with fun and relaxation is a hub of activity nestled at the eastern base of the San Jacinto Mountains.
With an awe inspiring view of the mountains to the west and the beauty of the stark desert all around, the Coachella Valley has been home to Palm Springs since the early 1800’s. During this initial time period, the Cahuilla Indians, known as the Agua Caliente Indians, were the primary inhabitants, living around the hot springs in the winter months and moving to the mountain canyons during the excruciating heat of the desert floor in the summer. These Indians were the beginning of civilization in Palm Springs, and many of their customs were carried on, through the generations that followed.
It wasn’t until 1852 with the invasion of the Mormons, the Indians were “introduced to civilization” which however proved fatal to them considering their interaction with white men resulted in vast numbers of them falling victim to the small pox epidemic. This left their numbers at a shocking low of only 70 living members remaining in Palm Springs, and in 1925 only 50 were counted. Today their numbers have risen to well over 400 active tribe members that continue to care for their land and provide a constant reminder to the origins of the city.
Playing an important part in the captivating history of Palm Springs, the early 1900’s ushered in the Hollywood society who began to use the desert oasis as their playground. With the upswing in the number of visitors came the growth of the economy in the form of resorts, tennis clubs, gambling and a shocking number of new residents which required the placement of an airport to support the rapidly increasing flow of visitors daily that preferred air travel. In a short time, the Palm Springs Airport evolved from a small military installation, formerly constructed as a protective measure during the war in 1939, to an ever growing popular land mark that now proudly includes state of the art security, separate baggage claims area, expanded concessions, numerous specialty shops, and the creation of a controlled play area for children. As airports go, this one is definitely in keeping with the overall tone and energy of Palm Springs — relaxation and pampering.
The Historical Society of Palm Springs has opened two original structures remaining intact from the late 1800’s as a part of their collection of the history of this unforgettable city, in an attempt to educate local residents and visitors alike about the people and events that were instrumental in creating Palm Springs. Available for viewing by the public are some vintage collector’s items giving you a personal chance to experience and remember a bygone era. The first of the buildings housing this amazing collection of the past is The Adobe House, built by John McCallum. He is remembered as the first white settler who moved from San Francisco in 1884 with his family to begin a new life here. He is also remembered for providing the first fresh spring water made available to Palm Springs by building a 19 mile rock lined ditch running from the Whitewater River into Palm Springs, with the aid of some of the local Indians. The second landmark construction is an original home built in 1893, out of railroad ties, by Dr. Welwood Murray who is referred to as the first hotelier of Palm Springs. Named “Miss Cornelia’s Little House”, it was purchased in 1913 by Miss Cornelia White and her sister Dr. Florilla White. Located in the Village Green Heritage Center on historic Palm Canyon Drive, it carries visitors back in time to the pioneer era with the antiques and pictures depicting the life back then.
Come see the origins of a memorable city — come experience Palm Springs.