History of Palm Springs: Coachella festival, first golf course and more

History of Palm Springs Coachella

In the recent history of Palm Springs, the Coachella festival has grown from modest roots to world fame. (photo: Richard Lui/The Palm Springs Desert Sun)

DealChicken spends a lot of time hunting and pecking around Palm Springs in search of the best daily deals. So it’s no surprise that along the way, he’s discovered more than a few fun facts buried in the history of Palm Springs. From Coachella to golf—DealChicken knows his city trivia.

The Coachella Music and Arts Festival is an annual event that has had music fans flocking to our California desert every April since 1999. What started out with lesser-known bands bucking against mega-concert tradition has mushroomed to be the largest music event in North America. In addition to featuring alternative bands like the Black Keys, My Morning Jacket and M.I.A., Coachella has also welcomed one-name headliners such as Prince, Madonna and Jay-Z, and staged band reunions like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and The Pixies. Rock on!

DealChicken is a mini-celebrity, so he understands the need to duck the paparazzi and get away from it all. The reason why Palm Springs became Hollywood’s playground to icons like Frank Sinatra and Elvis back in the 50s and 60s? Because many film studios used to have a “two-hour rule,” in which the stars had to make themselves somewhat available and reachable in case of reshoots.

DealChicken is a seasoned golf pro... albeit mini-golf. The first official golf course in the history of Palm Springs was a nine-hole course conceived by oilman Thomas O’Donnell in 1926. He had the links built without the help of a golf architect, just simply based on how far apart his cronies wanted the holes to be. Nowadays, there are more than 125 golf courses in Palm Springs, for all the birdies you can shake a club at.

DealChicken always takes the high road. Luckily, Death Valley desert is filled with highs and lows. For one, this desert is one of the hottest places on Earth, literally. The highest recorded temperature was 136 degrees in 1913. And only in Death Valley National Park can you travel 240 feet below sea level to 6,000 feet above sea level, with a 20 degree drop in temperature, within half an hour’s time.

Two of DealChicken’s peeps happen to be two prehistoric lizards named Dinny and Mr. Rex. The apatosaurus and T-Rex are the impossible-to-miss landmarks off the I-10, and were made from leftover materials when constructing the freeway over 30 years ago. Dinny, the largest dino in the world, took 11 years to construct and Mr. Rex took seven.

DealChicken loves rubbing wings with the stars at red carpet events. Every January, he borrows a tux from his penguin pal and heads for the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Started in 1990 by then Mayor Sonny Bono, PSIFF has become one of the nation’s largest film festivals and premier Hollywood events. Featuring over 200 films from 60 countries, the festival’s annual Black Tie Awards Show draws A-list and Oscar buzz-worthy actors such as George Clooney, Angeline Jolie and Glenn Close each January to kick off awards season.

DealChicken always keeps his eye on the ball. But in April, he’s extra-vigilant, for fear of being mistaken for a fuzzy tennis ball if he waddles near Indian Wells, home of the annual BNP Paribas Open. What started out as a modest fundraising tournament in the desert has grown into the largest professional tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slams. As tennis’ popularity grew, so did the need for the state-of-the-art facility: so in 2000, Indian Wells Tennis Garden opened, featuring a world-class stadium that has over 16,000 seats.

DealChicken knows how quickly rumors fly, so he’s here to bust a local myth: The Joshua Tree on U2’s classic 1987 album of the same name is not located in Joshua Tree National Park, but some 200 miles away. Yet for many diehard U2 fans, finding the Joshua Tree has become an urban quest. Rolling Stone ranked the iconic images by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn one of the 100 Greatest Album Covers of All Time in 1991. The lone tree fell in 2000, but U2 fans everywhere congregate there to “find what they’re looking for.”

DealChicken knows VIP treatment, but he gives an extra tip of his hat to the Palm Springs American Legion Post, which has a permanently reserved table for one in its dining room, but no one is allowed to sit there. The Post maintains the empty table for a Missing in Action or Prisoner of War serviceman or woman whenever he or she returns home.

Did you already know about the history of Palm Springs? Check out these fun facts about Salinas.