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Palm Springs History, California

The city of Palm Springs, California, USA, has an extended history. Anthropological calculations indicate that Palm Springs history can be dated back to about ten thousand years when the area was inhabited by indigenous tribes. Although much information is not available about these early inhabitants, there is enough evidence to indicate that Cahuilla Indians (as a matter of fact, the Agua Caliente Band) have been occupying the lands for nearly 5 centuries. In fact, some initial Spanish explorers chose to name the place ‘Agua Caliente’ after the resident tribe.

The surprise element of Palm Springs history, however, is that the area never saw Spanish settlement in the way that other Californian cities like Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Ana or San Diego saw. Actually, the Cahuilla Indians had retained their control over the Coachella Valley and the Spanish conquerors never had much success.

Palm Springs History -The 1800s

The 1800s have been very crucial in the history of Palm Springs. Palm Springs was mapped by a US government-sent survey team in 1853. 1872 saw Palm Springs becoming a part of the Bradshaw Stage Coach Line and 5 years later, in 1877, the Southern Pacific Railroad also constructed their railroad connection.

This railroad connection turned the course of Palm Springs history, as soon after that the US government gave the SPR ownership of land on either side of the railroad with a view to complete the Pacific railway line. The Agua Calientes people had considerable land-holdings. (In fact, the land was divided in a checkerboard pattern, with the even-numbered land-holdings going to the Agua Calientes and the odd-numbered land-holdings to the SPR).

Although the federal law did not permit the Agua Calientes to make any monetary gains from their land-holdings, the SPR was allowed to sell/lease land and in 1884, Judge John Guthrie McCallum (along with his family) became the first permanent non-Indian settler after he acquired land from the SPR. The Palm Springs Hotel, the area’s first hotel was built in 1886.

Palm Springs History - The 1900s

The early 1900s saw settlers arriving from different parts of the USA and Palm Springs started walking on the path of progress; soon the township of Palm Springs had its own post-office and school, side-by-side hotels and inns. As the town started gaining prominence as a tourist destination, golf courses and tennis courts, etc. were developed.

1938 saw Palm Springs being incorporated as a city and by then it had become a hot and happening tourist destination frequented by the rich, affluent, like European royalties, and Hollywood stars.

The WWII years saw Palm Springs turning to a training-ground, where troops were trained for desert forays. The giant El Mirador Hotel was converted into a hospital for treating the injured soldiers in the war-hit years. The one benefit that Palm Springs reaped in this period is the airport.

The end of the war saw Palm Springs progressing in every sphere. Following the signing of the Equalization Law (which entitled the Agua Caliente to earn profits from their land-holdings) in 1959, the permanent population of Palm Springs has gone up considerably. The 1970s saw swarms of people coming over to Palm Springs to build themselves a peaceful abode post retirement and the city ceased to be just a tourist sanctuary for political big shots and showbiz celebrities.

Today, Palm Springs is a perfect example of a modern-day cosmopolitan city – a city that has everything to support excellent tourism as well as day-to-day existence.

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