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Fab 50s Look at Palm Springs!

About one out of every three homes in Palm Springs had a swimming pool.

Palm Springs

One of the fun places I’ve been “visiting” with my current research is Palm Springs, California. I’ve been looking at maps of the city at the time, and deep-diving other sources. It’s such an interesting place! So I thought you might like a peek at what I’ve been learning.

Water and irrigation ditches created the oasis of Palm Springs in the middle of the desert. In the 1950s  the city was known as the playground for the rich and elite including celebrities such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Lucile Ball, Sammy Davis Jr and many more.

Also, President Ike Eisenhower took his winter vacation in Palm Springs. However, it was more than a winter resort for celebrities. With more than 300 hotels there in the 50s, the city developed a reputation as a leading convention site. Hardly a week passed without a business convention of some kind in Palm Springs. Also, beginning in the early 1950s, the city became a popular Spring Break resort. 

Palm Springs researchAs tourists flocked to the city to enjoy warm, sunny weather, wheeled homes became a common sight in Palm Springs. With about 32 trailer parks in the Coachella Valley, the city was the jeweled showcase of mobile living. Bing Crosby even owned a trailer park there. 

Movie stars such as Clark Gable, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tony Curtis, Liberace, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Debbie Reynolds, and others began to build unique vacation homes there. So, the Palm Springs’ Desert Modern architectural style flourished. It was a high-end suburban-style featuring open-designs, wall-to-wall carpeting, air-conditioning, large windows, and swimming pools. 

About one out of every three homes in Palm Springs had a swimming pool. There were almost a thousand swimming pools, more pools per the number of residents than anywhere else in the world at that time. In fact, the pool at Palm Springs Tennis Club was the most photographed swimming pool in the world back then.

However, people in Palm Springs did more swim. Tennis was one of the most popular sports there. Golfing was also a favorite activity in the city and Thunderbird Golf Club had one of the finest courses anywhere. In fact, Palm Springs was considered the winter golf capital of America at this time.  

Residents and tourists in Palm Springs also liked to go shopping at La Plaza which consisted of some of the most famous stores in America as well as many unique specialty boutiques. Tourists and residents also took in the sights of the desert sand and nearby canyons. Hiking and dude ranch type horseback tours down wild, rugged trails were a popular leisure activity. 

There were also many top-notch restaurants and nightclubs in the city at that time such as Saddle and Sirloin, Howard Manor, Oasis, The Dollhouse, Don the Beachcomber, Chi Chi’s and El Mirador. Many featured shows with well-known stars like Louie Armstrong. Palm Springs was also an agricultural site with 4000 acres near the city which grew dates. 

Now, you can see why this winter oasis and resort spot grew so popular in the 1950s. And why I’ve been “visiting” it virtually the last few weeks. 

What cool places have you been visiting or “visiting?”

Perilously yours,


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