Palm Springs history begins long before the first Hollywood actors flocked to the desert for some R&R. The Coachella Valley has been inhabited for thousands of years, and over the centuries, several distinct cultures have their their mark on this slice of the Sonoran Desert. On Palm Springs vacations, you'll find many places to connect with the history of the Coachella Valley and discover this one-of-a-kind community that's charmed Hollywood celebrities and average people alike.
The weather is one of the most-discussed facts about Palm Springs. Few places in America receive as much sun or as many 100-degree days as this community in the desert. The San Jacinto Mountains, however, provide shelter from the severe storms and heavy smog often seen in Los Angeles and other communities to the south. The low humidity and dry sunny days make time in Palm Springs pleasant no matter which time of year you plan to visit. The ancestors of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians settled on the sunny land, adapting to life with warm summers and colder temperatures high in the mountains.
The rich vegetation, fan palms, and abundant water supply drew the community towards the land that's today known as the Indian Canyons some 2,000 years ago. Even today, this oasis in the desert is one of the best places to discover Palm Springs history. The exhibits of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and guided tours of Tahquitz Canyon help you to walk in the footsteps of the region's early residents, learn facts about Palm Springs, and connect with this rich culture. The Indian Canyons area is also home to a relaxing spa and challenging golf club, in addition to the Agua Caliente Casino.
Moving forward, the history of the Coachella Valley changed forever when Juan Bautista de Anza led a band of travelers on a trek through the desert, traveling through what is now Northern Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California. By the 1850s, a few decades later, government surveyors mapped out the area and carved a route for wagons out of the San Gorgonio Pass. One of the city's classic resorts, the Spa Resort Casino, was established at the site where the surveyors found the hot springs and rich mineral water.
In the next decades, Palm Springs history was filled with government intervention and determining who would get the land. It would take the Native Americans a better part of a century to have a legal right to live on the land their ancestors had called home for generations and generations. It was then the history of the Coachella Valley really changed. During this time, this desert region was starting to draw vacationers to the newly opened hotels and resorts. Just like today, visitors were all too happy to leave behind their everyday troubles and spend some time soaking up the sun.
Many of these visitors shared a profession—making motion pictures. The history of the Coachella Valley really changed when the celebrities began to vacation and buy homes in the desert, an easy drive from the movie lots in and around Los Angeles. Several generations of stars, everyone from Frank Sinatra to Dakota Fanning, have spent time enjoying this community. It was the 1940s when Palm Springs really became the Hollywood of the Desert. One of the more interesting facts about Palm Springs is from the World War II era when General Patton's troops who were training for their time in North Africa. The airfield, built to handle the influx of troops, eventually became the Palm Springs International Airport. You can discover even more of this history at the Palm Springs Air Museum.