Coachella Valley: Wikis


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Coachella Valley

Coachella Valley (pronounced /koʊ.əˈtʃɛlə/) is a large valley landform in Southern California. The valley extends for approximately 45 miles (72 km) in Riverside County southeast from the San Bernardino Mountains to the saltwater Salton Sea, the largest lake in California. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) wide along most of its length, bounded on the west by the San Jacinto Mountains and the Santa Rosa Mountains and on the north and east by the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The San Andreas Fault crosses the valley from the Chocolate Mountains in the southeast corner and along the centerline of the Little San Bernardinos. The fault is easily visible along its northern length as a strip of greenery against an otherwise bare mountain.

The Chocolate Mountains are home to a United States Navy live gunnery range and are mostly off-limits to the public. In comparison to the "Inland Empire" (Riverside-San Bernardino area and the California desert), some people refer to the IE 's sub-region Coachella Valley as the "Desert Empire" to differentiate it from the neighboring Imperial Valley. Geographers and geologists sometimes call the area, along with the Imperial Valley to the south, the "Cahuilla Basin" or the "Salton Trough".[1]

Geographically, it is the agricultural and recreational desert valley in Southern California, United States (U.S.), east of Riverside and San Bernardino. Populated by nearly 600,000 people, the valley is part of the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United States, the Inland Empire.[citation needed] The Coachella Valley is the second largest sub-region in the Inland Empire metropolitan area, after the Greater San Bernardino Area.


Geography and climate

Panorama of the view south from Keys View in the Little San Bernardino Mountains, Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA. Visible landmarks are the Salton Sea (230ft below sea level) at rear left, along towards the center the Santa Rosa Mountains behind Indio and the San Jacinto Mountains behind Palm Springs. In the valley floor, the San Andreas Fault is clearly visible. At the rear right is the 11,500 ft (3,500 m) San Gorgonio Mountain

The area is surrounded on the southwest by the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountain ranges, and the Little San Bernardino Mountains on the northeast. These mountains peak at around 11,000 feet (3,400 m) and tend to average between three to five thousand feet. This effectively blocks the marine layer familiar to most other Southern Californian areas. Sometimes a weather system can come through one of the narrow passes, or up from the Gulf of California as Hurricane Kathleen did in September 1976. Daily high temperatures in the summer rarely go lower than 105 °F.[citation needed] During winter, the daytime temperatures range from 70 °F (21 °C) to 80 °F (27 °C), making it a popular winter resort destination.

Although geographically the valley is the northwestern extension of the Colorado Desert to the southeast, the irrigation of over 100,000 acres (405 km²) of the valley since the early 20th century has allowed widespread agriculture. In its 2006 annual report, the Coachella Valley Water District listed the year's total crop value at over $576 million or almost $12,000 per acre.[2] The Coachella Canal, a concrete-lined aqueduct built between 1938 and 1948 as a branch of the All-American Canal, brings water from the Colorado River to the valley. The Colorado River Aqueduct, which provides drinking water to Los Angeles and San Diego, crosses the northeast end of the valley along the base of the Little San Bernardino Mountains (the Joshua Tree National Park).

The San Andreas Fault runs down the Valley's east side. Because of this fault, the Valley has many hot springs. The Santa Rosa Mountains to the West are part of the Lake Elsinore Fault zone. The results of a prehistoric sturzstrom can be seen in Martinez Canyon. The Painted Canyons of Mecca feature smaller faults as well as Precambrian, Tertiary and Quaternary rock formations, unconformities, badlands and desert landforms. Seismic activity is what triggers earthquakes, a natural, but on occasion, destructive phenomena in the Coachella Valley. Fault lines cause hot water springs or geysers to rise from the ground. These natural water sources are what made inhabitation and development possible in the otherwise inhospitable desert environment of the Coachella Valley. There have been major earthquakes that have affected the Coachella Valley. For instance, the Landers Earthquake in 1992 caused some damage in the valley. An earthquake of local origin which caused considerable damage was the 1986 North Palm Springs earthquake, which registered at a magnitude of 6.0, injuring 29 people and destroying 51 homes. [1][2]


This desert environment hosts a variety of flora and fauna, including the endangered California Fan Palm, Washingtonia filifera.[3], the Bighorn sheep a species of rams live in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountain ranges, and the fringe-toed lizard, an indigenous desert reptile whose numbers are increasingly under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Desert wildlife in the Coachella Valley includes localized subspecies of ants, bats, beetles, blackbirds, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, diamondbacks, fleas, foxes, gnats, gophers, hawks, horseflies, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, mosquitoes, mountain lions, owls, pigeons, quails, rattlesnakes, ravens, roaches, roadrunners, scorpions, spiders, termites, ticks, vipers, wasps, whip scorpions or "vinegaroons", and wildcats.

Communities and population

The Coachella Valley contains nine cities and various unincorporated communities.

City Population
(2000 census)
(2008 estimate)
Cathedral City 42,647 52,095
Coachella 22,724 39,391
Desert Hot Springs 16,582 24,489
Indian Wells 3,816 5,117
Indio 49,116 84,443
La Quinta 23,694 43,865
Palm Desert 41,155 50,876
Palm Springs 42,807 47,952
Rancho Mirage 13,249 16,714
Unincorporated area 76,695 N/A
Coachella Valley Cities Total 255,791 365,002
Coachella Valley Total 332,485 N/A

The Coachella Valley is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, due in part to its location in Riverside County, California, and to real estate booms in the 1990s. State projections estimate that the valley's population will pass 600,000 by the year 2020 and 1.1 million by 2066.[5] Demographers believe the total population already surpassed the 500,000 mark, plus 100,000 temporary seasonal residents known as "snowbirds" arriving to stay during the winter months (Oct-Apr).

The community of Palm Springs sits at the northwest end of the valley. Unincorporated areas and towns include Bermuda Dunes and Thousand Palms in the west end of the valley with Indio Hills, Sky Valley, North Palm Springs and Garnet along the northern rim along with Thermal, Valerie Jean, Vista Santa Rosa, Oasis and Mecca to the southeast. The native Cahuilla tribe represented in the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Torres-Martinez Band of Cahuilla Indians each have reservations in the area.

A retirement haven throughout the area's history, senior citizens and the wealthy came to live in the Coachella Valley and a large percentage of residents are age 65 or older.

Population diversity

Though the area is somewhat politically conservative, it is nevertheless renowned for being a community that is known for its inclusion of gays and lesbians as part of a diverse community.[citation needed] Current estimates are that up to 33% of Palm Springs' residents identify as gay and lesbian.[6] Cathedral City is also home to a number of gay resorts, bars, restaurants and clubs. Many establishments along a stretch of Arenas Road in downtown Palm Springs are gay-oriented and serve as the center of the annual White Party. According to an interview with former Palm Springs mayor Ron Oden, perhaps the nation's only openly gay African-American mayor,[6] A large number of HIV/AIDS-infected individuals have moved to Palm Springs to take advantage of the extensive health-support systems that have been developed in recent years (such as the Desert AIDS Project.) For this reason, Palm Springs has one of the highest per capita rates of HIV/AIDS in the nation.

The area has a large percentage of Mexican American political figures, plus the state assembly representative Bonnie Garcia of La Quinta is of Puerto Rican parentage.

According to the Riverside County board of voter registration, the majority of moved-in(younger) registered voters are affiliated with the Democratic party, while large portions of the Coachella Valley (except Palm Springs) tend to affiliate with the Republican political party. In recent years, new suburban residents (mostly retired transplants) are usually Republican, while long time residents (mostly Hispanic) tend to be Democrat.[citation needed]

The Coachella Valley was settled by a diverse array of races and ethnicities. Once viewed as predominantly Caucasian, the Coachella Valley has features of a diverse history. As of 2004, the Claritas study[7] found that 373,100 people resided in the region. The racial makeup was 44.70% Non-Hispanic White, 49.90% Hispanic, 1.80% Black/African American, 2.10% Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.40% American Indian and Eskimo, 0.10% from other races, and 1.10% from two or more races.

In the early 20th century, less than 1,000 full-time residents from across the U.S. lived in the "village" (Palm Springs), surrounding farms and ranches, and on the Indian reservation. The 1930 U.S. census found less than half the Coachella Valley's population was "white", the rest were Mexicans especially in the eastern ends when traqueros arrived to maintain the area's railroads, and Native Americans of local tribes in what was then impoverished reservations.

Starting in the 1890s, there has been a large Irish and Scottish presence in the region, after Palm Springs was an established agricultural colony called "Palm Valley" cofounded by Welwood Murray, a Scottish immigrant and John Guthrie McCallum, an American from the U.S. East coast. The two men widely advertised the colony to settlers in an interest of a warm climate and the ideal winter residence.[8] It might explain the high percentage of East Coast Americans (New Englanders), Canadians, and British citizens in Palm Springs during the early 1900s.[citation needed]

The area's population growth included members of several immigrant communities including Italians and Poles after World War II, mostly settling in a section known as "Little Tuscany" in Palm Springs. Soon, Germans, French and Scandinavians made up a segment of residents. Today, affluent tourists from Canada, Europe and Australia frequently visit and some decidedly relocated in the area. Britons are increasingly coming to Palm Springs and desert cities, for vacations or often to retire.[citation needed]

The Coachella Valley has a Jewish community, and according to the United Jewish Citizens of the Desert, the Coachella Valley has an estimated 20,000 American Jews, one of California's largest Jewish communities. But all faiths and denominations are found and represented in the area, the largest church being Roman Catholic. There is also a sizable Mormon community, settling here since the early 1900s, with three branches of the Latter Day Saints church.[citation needed]

Latinos are long established in Palm Springs' central and eastern sections, and have constituted the majority of the populations of Indio and Coachella for many decades. In the 2000 U.S. census, about 35 percent of Coachella Valley residents were Latino. But according to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an estimated half (50–60 percent) of the percentage of residents are Latino.[citation needed]

Most of the valley's Latinos are Mexican from a multi-generational community (see Chicano), but Central American immigrants (especially in Indio and Cathedral City), Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, and South Americans are also prevalent (esp. in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert). The two-decade-old trend of immigration from neighboring Mexico has culturally impacted the Coachella Valley in many more ways than the rest of California or the country.[citation needed]

Most Latinos came to obtain work in the area's year-round agriculture, but today many find employment in construction and home remodeling, the resort hospitality industry, landscaping firms, and in the retail sector. According to a 2006 real estate report by the Coachella Valley Association of Realtors, about 3 out of 5 new homeowners are Latino, and the majority of them are middle class, raising families in two-income households, and came from urban centers of Southern California around Los Angeles and San Diego.[citation needed]

The prominence of Native Americans of the Cahuilla tribe is represented in local life; because of casino gambling and land ownership, the majority of local tribal members (Cahullas pertained to the Agua Caliente band and the Cabazon/Twentynine Palms bands) are in upper-income brackets. According to the Southern California National Congress of American Indians, less than 5 percent of the area's residents are Native Americans.[citation needed]

African Americans are concentrated in Palm Springs' northern and eastern ends, as well in small sections of Indio and Desert Hot Springs, but local blacks live everywhere in middle-class and wealthy areas, blacks are less than 5 percent of the local population. The area is home to 10,000 Indian Americans (mostly from Sri Lanka), descendants of agricultural workers in the 1930s and 1940s (another large community is Imperial Valley to the south).[citation needed] Additionally, Palm Desert is the home of 1,000 Tahitians, a Pacific Islander people from French Polynesia.[citation needed]

Other ethnic groups in the area like Asian Americans (i.e. Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos), followed by a small wave of Armenians and Arabs (esp. Lebanese and Syrians) from the Middle East were involved in the area's agriculture in the early 1900s. In recent years, the area (especially Palm Desert and Palm Springs) became popular to Iranian, Israeli, East Indian, and Korean home buyers, with most purchasing increasingly high-valued properties for investment purposes.[citation needed]

In mid-2000, Palm Springs city officials and business leaders discussed on an unofficial declaration of Palm Springs as a "hate-free zone" as a sign of local pride to celebrate the city's tolerance (Palm Springs, especially in the Advocate magazine that caters to gay and lesbian readership, has voted it as one of the top five most popular world places for the gay/lesbian lifestyle)[citation needed] and multicultural diversity of the city's relaxed attitude regarding many races living close together.



The valley is the primary date-growing region in the United States, responsible for nearly 95 percent of the nation's crop and is celebrated each year in Indio during the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival. The earliest attempt at growing dates came about in 1890 when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) imported date palm shoots from Iraq and Egypt. Sixty-eight shoots were distributed across the Southwest U.S. in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Yuma, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona, and several California cites: Indio, Pomona near Los Angeles, Tulare and National City near San Diego. The imports were almost all male seedlings and produced poor fruit. The Coachella Valley showed promise, so USDA horticulturist Bernard Johnson planted a number of shoots that he brought back from Algeria in September 1903. On his own initiative, Johnson imported more shoots from Algeria in 1908 and again in 1912. The area's entire date industry can be traced back to those original USDA experiments near present-day Mecca. Date groves were grown from present-day Cathedral City to the Salton Sea, but most date groves are replaced by development by the 1990s. Today, nearly all the date groves are in the "East Valley" area south of Indio, near Coachella and east of La Quinta.

Other agricultural products cultivated in the Coachella valley include fruits and vegetables, especially table grapes, citrus fruits and peppers along with avocados, artichokes, beans, carrots, corn, cotton, grains (barley, oats and wheat plus rice fields kept wet or moist in the Salton Sea area), lettuce, peaches, persimmons, plums and prunes, spinach, strawberries, mangoes, tomatoes and other vegetable crops. The Coachella grapefruit originated in the region. The city of Coachella is the primary shipping point for agricultural goods. Agriculture is a founding block of the majority of "oldtimer" residents (In the 2000 census, only 10 percent of the Coachella Valley residents are born/raised in the area, a much lower percentage than most parts of the U.S.), whose parents and grandparents came to the area as farmers and laborers transformed the eastern parts of the valley, from a hot sandy desert into a green fertile place with a year-round growing season. The Coachella and Imperial valley's agricultural miracle is in due part to irrigation, an underground aquifer from the era when the valley was under a fresh water lake in the last ice age (over 10,000 years ago), and the All-American Canal completed in the late 1940s brought large supplies of water from the Colorado River. Recent growth of fish farming or "aquaculture" in Mecca near the Salton Sea brings new promise to the local economy, especially in efforts to restore the ailing ecology of the large saltwater lake.

Wind farming

The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm as viewed from the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in the San Jacinto Mountains to the south.

The valley's northwest entrance from the San Bernardino-Riverside along Interstate 10 is known as the San Gorgonio Pass and is one of the windiest places on earth. Cool coastal air is forced through the pass and mixes with the hot desert air, making the San Gorgonio Pass one of only three ideal places in California for steady, wind-generated electricity. At the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, hundreds of huge wind turbines spread across the desert and hills on either side of the highway greet visitors as they approach the crest of the pass and have become somewhat of a symbol of the area. The state's other wind farms are in the Tehachapi Pass between Mojave and Bakersfield and in the Altamont Pass near Livermore.


There is some contention as to the origin of the name. Early maps show the area as "Conchilla," the Spanish word for "seashell." Since the area was once a part of a vast inland sea, tiny fossilized mollusk shells can be found in just about every remote area. Local lore explains the change in the name from Conchilla to Coachella as a mistake made by the map-makers contracted to transcribe the data supplied by the Southern Pacific Railroad's survey party. Rather than redraw the expensive maps, the railroad chose to instead begin calling the area by the misspelled name "Coachella" rather than its traditional name "Conchilla." Some believe that the name Coachella was simply made up, but that theory is rather unlikely. Even though the area had been surveyed by Edward Fitzgerald Beale in 1857, whose survey party actually used camels to cross the desert, primarily along the path of the historic Bradshaw Trail, it wasn't until the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad and the discovery of abundant artesian wells later in the 19th Century that the area began to expand. Cindarella Courtney was the first non-Indian child born in Indio in 1898. The first boy, David Elgin, was born in 1899.

The coming in 1926 of U.S. Route 99 northward through Coachella and Indio and westward toward Los Angeles more or less along the present route of Interstate 10 helped further open both agriculture, commerce and tourism to the rest of the country. So too did the coming of State Highway 111 in the early 1930s, which cut a diagonal swath through the valley and connected all of its major settlements. Dr. June McCarroll, then a nurse with the Southern Pacific whose office fronted U.S. 99 in Indio, is credited with being the first person to delineate a divided highway by painting a stripe down the middle of the roadbed in response to frequent head-on collisions. The standard was refined and adopted worldwide. Doctor McCarroll is memorialized by a stretch of I-10 through Indio named in her honor.

The Coachella Valley became a major real estate destination in the 1980s and 1990s no longer limited to senior citizens, winter residents and retirees. Families with young children and young adults became interested in Palm Springs and surrounding communities for lower cost housing and apartment rents. The tourist attraction we know as Palm Springs has been exported worldwide, an increase of international visitors and now treated as a "year-round" community, the Coachella Valley is sometimes compared to Las Vegas, Nevada, Phoenix, Arizona or Santa Fe, New Mexico as part of the Southwest, as much it's a part of Southern California's most popular destinations (San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, and the rest of the Inland Empire Metropolitan Area). In a 2003 Condé Nast publication review, Palm Springs was ranked one of the top 10 global vacation destinations, and the smallest one in population.

Recreation and annual activities

With more than 350 days of sunshine per year and warm, mild winters—though summer can be quite hot—recreational hiking and horseback riding are popular in the many canyons in the mountains that surround the valley. One of the most visited outdoor sports areas is Thousand Palms Canyon.

The Coachella Valley was once a safe haven for hay fever allergy sufferers before the surge of golf courses and year-round lawns, and people with bronchitis, emphysema and asthma chose to relocate for health reasons in the early half of the 20th century.

In the early 1900s, Palm Springs was an ideal farming town and had some space converted to a minor agricultural economy. After that failed, all the fields and groves were replaced by homes and golf courses. Agriculture succeeded in the lower Coachella Valley near the communities of Thermal, Mecca, Oasis and Vista Santa Rosa that had a large underground aquifer to sustain a year-round green environment.

More than two hundred golf courses blanket the area, making it one of the world's premier golf destinations. The Merrill Lynch Skins Game is held in La Quinta each Thanksgiving and draws some of the biggest names in golf. The PGA has a major presence in La Quinta as well with the PGA WEST golf and residential complex. One of the host courses of the aforementioned Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, a PGA WEST fairway represents the area in Soarin' Over California, an IMAX-based attraction at Disney's California Adventure theme park.

The area is also dotted with classy, Las Vegas-style casinos run by local Indian tribes as well as resort hotels and spas with natural mineral water wells, making it a prime vacation destination as well. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, considered to be one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century, takes visitors from the valley floor to the San Jacinto Peak mountain station 8516 feet (2595 m) above sea level.

Palm Springs is home to one of the country's largest collections of mid-century architecture. Thousands of homes, apartments, hotels, businesses and other buildings were designed in this fashion across the city. International mid-century enthusiasts come to Palm Springs to admire the design.

Other activities include:

  • An annual air show is held in November is held at the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal. The Palm Springs Airport Annual Air Show held every January displays World War II-era vintage fighter aircraft.
  • The Desert Circuit Horse Show is one of the nation's largest horse competitions is also held at the Polo Grounds from January through March, as well as polo matches by such celebrities as Prince Charles of England.
  • The Coachella Valley attempted to draw in sports teams, both minor league and semi-pro but met with limited success. In the 1990s, Palm Desert city officials approved a sports arena, but the project never broke ground. In 2006, Indio city officials approved an U.S. Olympic team training facility to be completed by 2009.
  • As a result of a recommendation by the Coachella Valley Recreation and Park District's Superintendent of Operations, Craig DeWitt, the NBA held its first outdoor exhibition basketball game at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden of Indian Wells on 11 October 2008. That stadium facility was built primarily for tennis tournaments and music concerts, and it can hold up to 15,000 fans. The two basketball teams playing there were the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets.[citation needed] A second annual outdoor exhibition game was played on October 10, 2009, this time the Suns played against the Golden State Warriors.[citation needed]
  • Auto racing will make a comeback in Palm Springs in October 2008 when the revived Palm Springs Grand Prix takes place on a closed two-mile (3 km) track on selected city streets. Palm Springs hosted a vintage car race from 1988 to 2002, and twice it attempted to have a speedway constructed in the early 1990s. This was never approved by the city and county commissions.

Movie theatres (number of screens)

  • Stadium 9 (now the Regal 10), Palm Springs
  • Plaza Theatre (2) , Palm Springs
  • Cinemark Theatre (10), Cathedral City
  • Mary Pickford Theatre (14), Cathedral City
  • IMAX Theatre (4), Cathedral City
  • Cinemark River 16, Rancho Mirage
  • Rancho 16, Rancho Mirage
  • Palms to Pines 3, Palm Desert
  • Palme d'Or Cinema Theatre (3), Palm Desert
  • Metro 8 (now the Regal 8), Indio
  • Spanish language one-screen theatres in Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, La Quinta and Palm Springs.

Celebrity residents

The area has been a magnet for Hollywood stars since the 1930s when Bing Crosby, Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy founded the area's first tennis club in Palm Springs. Crosby would go on to found the Blue Skies Trailer Park in Rancho Mirage, unique for its expensive trailer homes each with its own individual theme. Other 1930s/1940s celebrities known to stop by Palm Springs included Humphrey Bogart, John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Mary Pickford and Judy Garland.

Farrell, after whom a street in Palm Springs is named, would later be elected mayor. Farrell Drive is built on the path of the Palmdale Railroad, a narrow-gauge horse-drawn railroad right-of-way originally built to serve the proposed town of Palmdale. The town was never built and the railroad was abandoned after a few short years of operation. The ties were used to build one of the area's earliest residences and the Cornelia White House still stands today in downtown Palm Springs.

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Captain William McGonagle was a graduate of Coachella High School and made the valley his home after his retirement. Mitchell Paige was another Congressional Medal of Honor veteran who lived in Palm Desert and has a newly opened middle school in La Quinta named after him. Jacqueline Cochran, founder and director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots lived her last years in Indio. In 2005, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates reportedly bought and owns a home in The Vintage Club Country Club in Indian Wells.

Elvis Presley honeymooned in Palm Springs in 1967 and was a frequent visitor as well. Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore were residents of the valley and were instrumental in the creation of three major golf tournaments, the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Golf Tournament, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (now hosted by comedian and golf aficionado George Lopez) and the Nabisco LPGA respectively. All three have streets named in their honor as does President Gerald Ford, a longtime Rancho Mirage resident and benefactor of the substance abuse center that bears his wife's name, the Betty Ford Center on the campus of the Eisenhower Medical Center, named for general, U.S. president and part-time resident Dwight Eisenhower. Sinatra and his friends, including Dean Martin, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Rosemary Clooney and Connie Francis were frequent visitors in the close-knit celebrity community of the Coachella Valley in the 1950s and 1960s.

The main road into Palm Springs International Airport, named simply "Airport Road", was renamed Kirk Douglas Way on October 17, 2004. Douglas, a major area benefactor, lived in the valley for more than fifty years and currently resides in Montecito. He is credited with spearheading the drive to modernize the area over those ensuing five decades. His son Michael Douglas, also an actor, is said to own a residence in Palm Springs with his actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones.

More famous names

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were instrumental in forming the exclusive Thunderbird Heights tract in Rancho Mirage, once the home of President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty. According to Palm Springs Life magazine, that same tract would loan its name to a new car in late 1954, the Ford Thunderbird. The magazine also cites that a favorite vacation spot for General Motors executives, Palm Desert's Eldorado Country Club, loaned its name to Cadillac's top model the year before. Local automotive history also states that designer Raymond Loewy penned the Studebaker Avanti in his Palm Springs home. Especially since the 1950s, Palm Springs and nearby golf clubs are hailed as the "playground of celebrities", but in lesser numbers celebrities don't travel or reside in the Palm Springs area as much they used to, but the area's "star power" made a comeback in the 2000s.

Ball and Arnaz helped finance construction of the Indian Wells Country Club. Founded in 1956 with their winter residence on famous DesiLu Court, Indian Wells became a major factor in "down valley" growth in the 1970s and 1980s. A mostly gated community, Indian Wells has one of the highest per capita income of any small town in the United States, while nearby Coachella, a short distance southeast on State Route 111 is the third poorest city of the 10,000-50,000 population range in the nation, though that is rapidly changing as the area develops. A memorial to Eisenhower can be found on the front lawn of Indian Wells City Hall, also features the local veterans memorial plaque to represent the community's 800 veterans, a high number of war veterans per ratio of its' predominantly senior citizen population. Coachella has the Vietnam War veterans' memorial to represent their community's high representation of armed forces volunteers, a large percentage had Spanish surnames since the city's population are over 90 percent Latino.

Many other celebrities, past and present, have called the area home such as actor Paul Burke. Among those who grew up in the area:

Other historic figures

  • President John F. Kennedy was a frequent guest of Frank Sinatra, and a plaque in one of the pews of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert marks the spot where Kennedy would usually sit during Mass. That same area in Palm Desert once served as a training ground for General George Patton's Third Army troops and tank battalions; today, the site is home to the very upscale El Paseo shopping district. Patton also trained in a huge plot of desert stretching from Chiriaco Summit just off the eastern end of the valley northward almost to Amboy along U.S. Route 66 in the Mojave Desert. Tank tracks from those maneuvers are still visible today in the open desert and a museum dedicated to Patton is located in Chiriaco Summit. Patton was also a frequent guest at the Whittier Ranch House in Indio, a grand adobe structure which had faced the possibility of demolition as the ranch lands surrounding it were being developed. A grass roots organization had petitioned the city to preserve the structure for use as a VFW post; it has instead been restored and retained as the clubhouse for the new Whittier Ranch housing development.
  • Sonny Bono ran a restaurant in downtown Palm Springs. Frustrated by the lack of cooperation he faced from the city council over a new sign for the restaurant, the entertainer took matters into his own hands and ran for mayor. He retained local conservative talk radio host Marshall Gilbert (heard regularly on KNWQ) as his campaign manager in a successful bid that not only put Bono back in the public eye, but fueled his later campaign for a seat on the United States Congress, a position he held until his death in a skiing accident in 1998. His widow, Mary, filled the vacancy left by her husband and later campaigned successfully on her own. Both he and Frank Sinatra are buried at Desert Memorial Park (now the Forest Lawn Mortuary) in Cathedral City.
  • The La Quinta Resort and Club, a series of bungalows built in 1926 in what was then known as Marshall's Cove is the oldest resort in the valley. Frank Capra wrote the script for Lost Horizon poolside at the La Quinta. Capra is buried in nearby Coachella.
  • So fond was Walt Disney of his property at the Smoke Tree Ranch in Palm Springs that he had the ranch's brand embroidered on all of his neckties. Disney reluctantly sold the property to help finance the construction of Disneyland. The Partners, bronze sculptures of Disney standing next to Mickey Mouse in each of the Disney theme parks clearly show the brand on Disney's tie.
  • Clint Eastwood owns a restaurant called the Hog's Breath Inn in Old Town La Quinta.

Events and activities

Changing exhibits of sculptures can be found along El Paseo Drive in Palm Desert. Palm Springs became a miniature version of Hollywood and a rival to Sundance, Utah; with the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival every January and the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival held in August, at the historic Plaza theater.

For professional tennis fans, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, opened in 2000, hosts the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament annually in March.

Each April, Indio Hosts the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival. Indio is also the site of the annual Coachella Music Festival, a rock music concert venue in the Indio/Empire Polo Ground, recognized as one of the nation's premiere music festivals for its high-profile acts and scenic beauty.

Notable companies based in the Coachella Valley

  • United States Filter Corporation headquarters, Palm Desert - manufacturers of industrial water filtration systems.
  • Guthy-Renker, Palm Desert and Thane International, La Quinta - the nation's leading producers of mail order infomercials.
  • Western Golf Car, Desert Hot Springs - one of the world's largest golf cart design and manufacturing facilities. Lido Motors, a company founded by Lee Iacocca, produces neighborhood electric vehicles in conjunction with Western Golf Car.
  • West Coast Turf, Indio - official supplier of sod to the Super Bowl. West Coast Turf was also the site of an episode of Monster Garage in which a Ford Mustang convertible was converted into a lawn mower.
  • Ernie Ball, one of the world's leading manufacturers of electric guitar strings, opened a manufacturing facility in Coachella in 2005.
  • Armtec Defense Products, Coachella, is a member of Esterline Technologies' Defense Group, one of the world's largest combustible ordnance manufacturers.
  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert, a rare kind of zoological exhibit featuring the world's desert wildlife.
  • Shields Date Gardens, a local landmark and tourist attraction since 1924.

Pop culture references

Noteworthy and memorable pop culture references include the animated Looney Tunes short, Bully for Bugs. In it, Bugs Bunny requests directions to the Coachella Valley "and the carrot festival therein." An annual carrot festival is in fact held just outside the area in the Imperial County town of Holtville.

The generation defining novel "Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture" by Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland describes the angst of those born between roughly 1960 and 1965 and is set in the Palm Springs of the late 1980s.

A second classic 1980s novel "Less Than Zero", a tale of disaffected, rich teenagers of Los Angeles, has its climatic scenes of excess and despair set in Palm Springs. "Less Than Zero" was made into a film in 1987, directed by Marek Kanievska and starring Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr. and Jami Gertz.

The most famous movie filmed in the Coachella Valley is arguably It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. This film even includes the former Desert Air airport, now the site of the Rancho Las Palmas Marriott in Rancho Mirage. The airfield escape scene in A Night in Casablanca was filmed at present-day Palm Springs International Airport; Mount San Jacinto is clearly seen in the background.

Tex Avery made a brief reference to Palm Springs via a sight gag in his 1948 animated short for MGM, The Cat that Hated People. In the showroom of the "Moonbeam Rocket Company", a tiny rocket ship with a sign showing its intended destination of Palm Springs is shown among a series of large rockets also displaying signs indicating not terrestrial but rather their galactic destinations.

The early 1960s would see the movie Palm Springs Weekend filmed on location. A humorous situation involving four drunk LAPD policemen in a rented aircraft attempting to reclaim a Palm Springs golf course in the name of the local Indian tribes can be found in the 1975 novel, The Choirboys.

An episode of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show titled The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam announces the upcoming second installment of the episode as Rimsky & Korsakov Go to Palm Springs, or Song of Indio.

In the 1984 music video by Tears for Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule the World being shot on location in the Coachella Valley. The rock video features scenes of a few local landmarks: the dinosaur structures near Cabazon, the windmill farms, scenery along Interstate 10 and state route 111, and the shores of the Salton Sea.[citation needed]

In 1988, "The Race" by Swiss dance band Yello featured a fictitious sportscaster talking about the "thirty-first annual formula race" in Palm Springs. While Palm Springs did briefly host an annual Grand Prix, it ran for considerably fewer than thirty-one years.

In the 1990s two television series shows P.S. I Luv U and Phenom, the characters and plots were set in Palm Springs.

In 2006, The CW television network had a teen drama series Hidden Palms is set in a gated desert community near Palm Springs, although there is a real Hidden Palms in Palm Desert.[citation needed]

In local Tyler Hilton's song "When It Comes", he references Palm Desert's strip of high-class fashion and dining singing, When I'm cruising El Paseo / In my off-white coup back '65.

In an episode of the animated comedy Family Guy, baby Stewie and his friend, Brian (a talking dog) figured a way to return home from vacation in Lois' parents home in Palm Springs.

A majority of the 2007 film "Alpha Dog" was shot in Palm Springs.

The helicopter scene in Mission Impossible III was filmed in the windfarm outside of Palm Springs.


The Coachella Valley, under the title "Palm Springs", is a distinct Nielsen and Arbitron ratings market, with eight local television stations and twenty radio stations. The NBC affiliate, KMIR-TV channel 6 (UHF 36) was the first television station in the Palm Springs market, signing on in October 1968.[citation needed] Cable subscribers under Time Warner can receive Los Angeles television channels as part of basic cable service. Satellite television and satellite radio are available as well. The eastern Coachella Valley can receive Mexican television from Mexicali, 90 miles away.

In radio, the Morris Corporation-owned Desert Radio Group of Palm Springs owns three AM and three FM radio stations; RM Broadcasting of Palm Springs is the largest in terms of FM ownership with four stations: KPLM, KJJZ KAJR and KMRJ. R&R Broadcasting of Palm Springs, the only other independent group other than RR Broadcasting, owns two AM and two FM stations with negotiations underway to close the sale of KWXY-FM. The group currently owns the AM signal.

In newsprint, the Gannett Company-owned The Desert Sun is the local daily paper; the Los Angeles Times is also sold there. The Desert Valley Star Weekly is the only independent alternative weekly found in the area and is distributed free at over 500 locations. The area's most known publication, Palm Springs Life caters to the valley's rich and famous elites, the magazines is available across the Coachella Valley and in urban areas throughout the Western U.S. A number of periodicals cover the area's LGBT community, including The Bottom Line Magazine (located in Palm Springs) and In Magazine. Palm Springs is also known for being home to many Deathcore festivals and bands. The Coachella Valley also has a well-established art blog for their younger community, The Coachella Valley Art Scene Blog.


Aviation in the area is served by the Palm Springs International Airport in Palm Springs, Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal and Bermuda Dunes Municipal Airport in Bermuda Dunes. Interstate 10 runs along the northeastern rim of the valley while State Route 111 runs for about 30 miles along the southwestern rim of the valley and serves as the main arterial highway between almost all Coachella Valley cities. A four-lane expressway, State Highway 86S opened in the early 1990s as a "special" bypass (hence the "S" designation) of two-lane Highway 86. Historic signs designating the original route of U.S. Route 99 through the area may be found along present-day Indio Boulevard through Indio and Harrison Street through Coachella.

Public transportation in the valley is provided by the SunLine Transit Agency based in Thousand Palms, which was among the country's first transit agencies to totally convert to alternate fuel vehicles, including full-sized buses powered by fuel cells.

Notes and references

  • Coachella Valley's Golden Years, printed by the Coachella Valley Water District, 1978.

External links


Simple English

The Coachella Valley is a desert valley in the Colorado Desert of Southern California. It is famous as a resort destination and an agricultural region.

The cities of the Coachella Valley from west to east are:

  • Desert Hot Springs
  • Cathedral City
  • Rancho Mirage
  • Palm Desert
  • La Quinta
  • Indio
  • Coachella

Many people visit the area and enjoy the pleasant weather during tourist season, which is from September to June. Winter in the Coachella Valley is very pleasant, much like spring in other parts of the country. Summer is very hot and dry, with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Centigrade. Although the area is a desert, there are lots of water both under the ground and in aqueducts from the Colorado River. The weather is so similar to weather in the Middle East that the area grows more than 95% of the nation's crop of dates. A grapefruit called the "Coachella Grapefruit" was first grown there.

One of the world's greatest engineering feats is in Palm Springs. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway brings visitors from the floor of the valley to the top of Mount San Jacinto, 8516 feet (3000 metres) up!

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