Though Palm Springs may not be the fabulous vacation spot of the rich and very famous as it once was, it still has that old Hollywood sparkle. That’s leftover from years as the premiere American vacation spot for Hollywood’s execs and stars. Palm Springs became an official city in 1938. It started with seven councilmen and the mayor was Phil Boyd. During the 1939 census, Palm Springs reported a year-round population of just over 5,000, while during the summer, that number climbed to 8,000.
Because the city’s four major hotels were all entirely occupied during the peak season, this prompted other hotels to move into the area. The top four hotels during the late ’30s and early ’40s were the Oasis, the Desert Inn, El Mirador and Del Tahquitz. The Deep Well Guest Ranch was not technically a hotel, but did host many seasonal Palm Spring residence.
The Chi Chi Nightclub became the town’s premiere nightclub with many national acts stopping by. Restaurants known in town were the Palm House and the Polynesian restaurant located in the Palm Springs Hotel. A Western-themed nightclub opened dubbed The Mink and Manure Club. During this Palm Spring saw travelers from Hollywood, but also various wealthy parts of the United States.
Golf courses became a recreational activity for the elite and in Palm Springs, it was played at Tom O’Donnell’s golf course. There were also several tennis courts. Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club was another hot spot for the rich and famous during their leisure time. At this time, Palm Springs boasted the most swimming pools of any county in the United States. Bike rentals were available at numerous hotels, which let guests explore Palm Springs on bike, taking in the scenery. There were, and still are, amazing trails for hikers and runners to take in the mountains of Palm Springs.
In December of 1941, there were many people at the the Desert Inn for the annual dog show, which drew an eclectic and wealthy group of folks. It was here that people heard John Miller announce that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. With the declaration of war, many people fled Palm Springs to live in larger cities. Those who stayed and held on to their property for future generations prospered greatly.
Many thought Palm Springs had seen its best days before the war, however after the war, tourists returned to the area in droves. In 1962, John F. Kennedy visited the area, putting it back on the map for those who wanted to see and be seen.