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The Coachella Valley (//, //) is a valley in Southern California which extends for approximately 45 mi (72 km) in Riverside County southeast from the San Bernardino Mountains to the northern shore of the Salton Sea. It is the northernmost extent of the vast trough which includes the Salton Sea, the Imperial Valley and the Gulf of California. It is approximately 15 mi (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 (IE)" (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".
Populated by nearly 600,000 people, the valley is part of the 13th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, the Inland Empire. The famous desert resort cities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert lie in the Coachella Valley. The Coachella Valley is the second largest sub-region in the Inland Empire metropolitan area, after the Greater San Bernardino Area which may be due to the number of seasonal residents in the winter months which at peak times may surpass 100,000 with another 3.5 million annual conventioneers and tourists.
The area is surrounded on the southwest by the Santa Rosa Mountains, by the San Jacinto Mountains to the west, the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the east and San Gorgonio Mountain to the north. These mountains peak at around 11,000 feet (3,400 m) and tend to average between 5,000 to 7,000 feet (1,500 to 2,000 m). Elevations on the Valley floor range from 1600 ft above sea level at the north end of the Valley to 250 ft below sea level around Mecca. In the summer months daytime temperatures range from 104 °F (40 °C) to 112 °F (44 °C) and nighttime lows from 75 °F (24 °C) to 86 °F (30 °C). During winter, the daytime temperatures range from 68 °F (20 °C) to 88 °F (31 °C) and corresponding nights range from 46 °F (8 °C) to 65 °F (18 °C) making it a popular winter resort destination. The surrounding mountains create Thermal Belts in the immediate foothills of the Coachella Valley, leading to higher night-time temperatures in the winter months, and lower daytime temps during the summer months. Due to its warm year-round climate the region's agricultural sector produces fruits such as mangoes, figs and dates.
The Valley is the northwestern extension of the Sonoran Desert to the southeast, and as such, is extremely arid. Most precipitation falls during the winter months from passing mid-latitude frontal systems from the north and west, nearly all of it as rain, but with snow atop the surrounding mountains. Rain also falls during the summer months as surges of moisture from both the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California are drawn into the area by the desert monsoon. Occasionally, the remnants of a Pacific tropical cyclone can also affect the valley. In 1976, Tropical Storm Kathleen brought torrential rain and catastrophic flooding to the Coachella Valley as it swept in from the Pacific, traversing the region from south to north.
Although the irrigation of over 100,000 acres (40,500 ha) 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. 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 traverses 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 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 occasionally destructive phenomena in the Coachella Valley. Fault lines cause hot water springs or geysers to rise from the ground. These natural water sources made habitation and development possible in the otherwise inhospitable desert environment of the Coachella Valley. Major earthquakes 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.
|Climate data for Palm Springs, CA (Upper Valley)|
|Record high °F (°C)||95|
|Average high °F (°C)||70.8|
|Daily mean °F (°C)||58.1|
|Average low °F (°C)||45.4|
|Record low °F (°C)||19|
|Precipitation inches (mm)||1.16|
|Avg. precipitation days||3.8||3.5||2.4||0.7||0.4||0.2||0.7||1.1||1.0||0.8||1.0||2.6||18.2|
|Climate data for Palm Desert, California - Boyd Deep Canyon Campground Elev. 680 ft (1982–2012)|
|Average high °F (°C)||69.8|
|Average low °F (°C)||49.5|
|Precipitation inches (mm)||0.68|
|Climate data for Indio, CA (Lower Valley)|
|Record high °F (°C)||97|
|Average high °F (°C)||71.9|
|Daily mean °F (°C)||58.3|
|Average low °F (°C)||44.6|
|Record low °F (°C)||13|
|Precipitation inches (mm)||0.56|
This desert environment hosts a variety of flora and fauna, including the endangered California Fan Palm, Washingtonia filifera, Bighorn sheep inhabit 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, coyotes, diamondbacks, fleas, foxes, gnats, gophers, hawks, horseflies, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, mosquitoes, mountain lions, pigeons, quails, rattlesnakes, ravens, roaches, roadrunners, scorpions, spiders, termites, ticks, vipers, wasps, whip scorpions or "vinegaroons", and wildcats.
The Coachella Valley contains nine cities and various unincorporated communities.
|Desert Hot Springs||25,938|
|Coachella Valley Cities Total||346,518|
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 from the 1970s (peaking in the 1990s) to the 2000s. State projections estimate that the valley's population will pass 600,000 by the year 2020 and 1.1 million by 2066. 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 (from the end of October to the end of April).
The community of Palm Springs sits at the northwest end of the valley. Unincorporated areas and towns include Cabazon in the San Gorgonio Pass, and Bermuda Dunes and Thousand Palms in the east 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, and the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation south of Palm Desert, 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.
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. Current estimates are that up to 33% of Palm Springs' residents identify as gay and lesbian. 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 at the time the United States' only openly gay African-American mayor, 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.
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 longtime residents (mostly Hispanic) tend to be Democrat.
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 found that 373,100 people resided in the region. The racial makeup was 44.7% Non-Hispanic White, 49.9% Hispanic, 1.8% Black/African American, 2.1% Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.4% American Indian and Inuit, 0.1% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races.
In the early 20th century, less than 1,000 full-time residents lived in the "village" of 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 were then impoverished reservations.
Starting in the 1890s, there was 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 with an interest in a warm climate and the ideal winter residence.
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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, a result of being a major retirement destination and connections to the Hollywood film industry. But all faiths and denominations are found and represented in the area, the largest church being Roman Catholic belonging to the church's regional diocese of San Bernardino. There is also a sizable Mormon community, settling here since the early 1900s, with three stakes formerly branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which experienced rapid growth and Mormons form a large population in the Inland Empire (California) and High Desert (California) regions.
Hispanic Americans 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.
Most of the valley's Hispanics 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). Since the late 1980s, the large wave of immigration from neighboring Mexico has culturally impacted the Coachella Valley in many more ways than the rest of California or the country, but the national trend slowed down due to the late 2000s recession.
Most Hispanic immigrants 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.
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 (Cahuilla pertaining 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.
African Americans are concentrated in Palm Springs' northern and eastern ends, as well as in small sections of Indio and Desert Hot Springs, but local African Americans live everywhere in middle-class and wealthy areas and comprise 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 in Imperial Valley to the south). Additionally, Palm Desert is the home of 1,000 Tahitians, a Pacific Islander people from French Polynesia.
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 for Iranian, Israeli, East Indian, Yugoslav (Former) and Korean home buyers, with most purchasing increasingly high-valued properties for investment purposes. 
In mid-2000, Palm Springs city officials and business leaders discussed making 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) and multicultural diversity of the city's relaxed attitude regarding many races living close together. According to the Palm Springs Pride GLBT association poll and census data in 2010, an estimated 40–45 percent of Palm Springs' residents are thought to be GLBT and nearby Cathedral City is about one-quarter, each having above averages of GLBT people for a U.S. city.
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 palms were grown from present-day Cathedral City to the Salton Sea, but most date groves were overtaken by development by the 1990s. Today, nearly all of 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 such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit; onions and leeks; and peppers. The valley floor served to grow bounties of alfalfa, artichokes, avocados, beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, corn, cotton, cucumbers, dandelions (salad greens), eggplant, figs, grains (i.e. barley, oats, rye and wheat; plus rice fields kept wet or moist in the Salton Sea area), hops, kohlrabi, lettuce, mangoes, nectarines and peaches, persimmons, plums and prunes, pomegranate, potatoes, radishes, spinach, strawberries, sugar cane, tomatoes, a variety of herbs and spices, and other vegetable crops. The Coachella grapefruit originated in the region. The city of Coachella is the primary shipping point for agricultural goods. Domesticated grasses, flowers and trees are widely grown for warm-weather or desert climates, and sold for use in golf courses and landscape.
Only 10 percent of the Coachella Valley residents were born/raised in the area, according to the 2000 census, a much lower percentage than found in most parts of the U.S. Agriculture is a founding block of the majority of the "oldtimer" residents, 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 Valley's agricultural development is due to irrigation: water was drawn from an underground aquifer created when the valley was under a fresh water lake in the last ice age (over 10,000 years ago); and from the All-American Canal, completed in the late 1940s, which 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 to efforts to restore the ailing ecology of the large saltwater lake.
The valley's northwest entrance from the San Bernardino-Riverside along Interstate 10 is known as the San Gorgonio Pass and is the second windiest place in the country. 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, thousands 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 was popular among celebrities from Frank Sinatra to Dakota Fanning who came and continue to come to enjoy vacations and winter homes in the desert resort community. Also it 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.
The Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio is devoted to the preservation and interpretation of Coachella Valley's historical artefacts.
With more than 350 days of sunshine per year and the warmest winters in the western US – 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.
Roughly 125 golf courses blanket the area, making it one of the world's premier golf destinations and is the most popular golf vacation destination in California. The Merrill Lynch Skins Game was held in La Quinta each Thanksgiving and drew 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 California Adventure Park 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.
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 (or ShortFest) held in August, at the historic Plaza Theatre.
Each February, 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.
Visitors can see unspoiled desert nature in the National Parks like the Joshua Tree to the North, the Santa Rosa/San Jacinto Mountains to the south and the Snow-to-Sand National Monument to the west. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert.
Other activities include:
The area has been a magnet for Hollywood stars since the 1930s when Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy founded the Racquet Club of Palm Springs. Bing Crosby would later found the Blue Skies Trailer Park in Rancho Mirage, unique for its expensive trailer homes each with its own individual theme. In the mid-century celebrities known to stop by Palm Springs included Humphrey Bogart, John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Mary Pickford, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Jack Benny, who did numerous broadcasts of his radio show from Palm Springs.
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 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.
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 Medal of Honor veteran who lived in Palm Desert and has a 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 since he owned a home here from 1970 his death in 1977. 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. The medical center expanded in size by the new Walter Annenberg building named for the valley resident, billionaire, friend of celebrities and philanthropist. 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, California. 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.
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". However it is said that celebrities travel or reside in the Palm Springs area inlesser numbers as compared to yesteryear, 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 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:
U.S. 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. It is also now a California state historic site.
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 (now Mary Bono Mack), filled the vacancy left by her husband and later campaigned successfully on her own. She was defeated by Democrat Raul Ruiz in the 2012 election, and moved to Florida. Both Sonny Bono and Frank Sinatra are buried at Desert Memorial Park 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 1937 Lost Horizon poolside there, in the La Quinta Cove where the resort is located. Capra died in La Quinta and is buried in the nearby Coachella Valley Public Cemetery.
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 formerly owned a restaurant called the Hog's Breath Inn in Old Town La Quinta. The restaurant is currently owned by the Kaiser Restaurant Group, but maintains the Clint Eastwood inspired motif.
TV producer and media mogul Merv Griffin owned a home and ranch which is now part of the PGA West community. It was known as the "Griffin Ranch", but the land was sold and became an equestrian ranch housing tract and was annexed by the city of La Quinta.
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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 (Generation X-ers usually those born from 1960 to 1982), 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 climactic scenes of excess and despair set in Palm Springs. The film Less Than Zero was made in 1987, directed by Marek Kanievska and starring Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr. and Jami Gertz.
Another 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 Resort and Spa 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 was 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, a scene of two dancers appear in a gas station on state route 86, and the shores of the Salton Sea.
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 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. By irony, the real gated community is adjacent to Palm Desert High school.
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."
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 city was mentioned on an episode of Comedy Central's Reno 911! by sergeant/lieutanant Jim (Doug) Dangle, an openly Gay character of the show. He would hang out in Palm Springs, as well in San Francisco and West Hollywood, but he eventually chose Reno as his hometown.
In an episode of the animated comedy Family Guy On the Road to Rhode Island, baby Stewie and his friend, Brian (a talking dog) figured a way to return home from vacation in Lois' parents home in Palm Springs.
On American Dad Season 2, Episode 4 - Lincoln Lover, Stan Smith said to a speech in the Republican National Convention when representatives of the Gay Log Cabin Republicans were present: "Invite half of Palm Springs...oh, invite everyone in Palm Springs..." based on a belief based on a survey by a demographic think tank on about Half of the city's population are Gay or GLBT people.
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 first television station in the Coachella Valley is KMIR channel 6 by John Conte and Bob Hope, the NBC affiliate premiered in 1968 remains on the air as the desert's longest running TV station. KPLM (which later became KESQ, the Coachella Valley's current ABC affiliate) went on the air later with a party that made national headlines; it was founded by Robert E. Leonard. The station later made national news and garnered late night jokes from Johnny Carson and Bob Newhart when the station manager accidentally ran on air a pornographic movie.
Cable subscribers under Time Warner can receive Los Angeles area 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 "K-Palm", KJJZ "KJ-Jazz", KAJR "the Oasis" and KMRJ "The Heat"; and R&R Broadcasting of Palm Springs, the only other independent group other than RR Broadcasting, owns three AM and two FM stations with negotiations solidified to close the purchase of their newest station, KWXY-FM. The group currently owns the AM signal KPTR and the FM station merged with the other station KDES 104.7 moved to 98.5 on the FM dial. CBS Radio "KEZN" 103.1 FM Palm Desert,Ca. 92260 www.ez103.com
In newsprint, the Gannett Company-owned The Desert Sun is the local daily paper; the Los Angeles Times and the Riverside Press-Enterprise is also sold there (Gannett also operates the Desert Post Weekly). The Desert Valley Star Weekly is an independent community weekly that covers the Coachella Valley, and the Desert Entertainer is a calendar-type entertainment weekly produced by Hi-Desert Publishing. The area's city magazine, Palm Springs Life caters to the valley's rich and famous elites, while The Sun Runner Magazine covers the California desert region, including the Coachella Valley. A number of periodicals cover the area's LGBT community, including In Magazine.
An alternative news and entertainment publication, the Coachella Valley Independent, was founded online in late 2012. It is currently in print as a monthly publication. The Coachella Valley also has an Coachella Valley Art Scene Blog for the younger community.
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Included are Low-Power stations and relay transmitters with limited frequency area 
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.
The Coachella Valley is served by three public school districts: the Coachella Valley Unified School District of Coachella; Desert Sands Unified School District serving La Quinta, Indio and Palm Desert; and Palm Springs Unified School District of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage and Desert Hot Springs.
There are ten public high schools:
All the 10 high schools except Rancho Mirage are members of the DVL or Desert Valley League, a varsity sports league.
Private education is provided by church-run and secular schools such as:
Higher education is served by the College of the Desert (COD), a community college with its main campus in Palm Desert. COD constructed an East Valley campus in Thermal and a west valley annex in Palm Springs. COD has experienced sudden growth in the campus from the 1970s to the late 2000s.
The University of California Riverside (Coachella Valley) and California State University San Bernardino (Palm Desert) campus annexes are located in the Indian Wells (Higher) Education Center in Palm Desert.
There is the Santa Barbara Business College and the San Bernardino Skidron Business School/College in Palm Desert. Another college is Brandman University, operated by Chapman University in Palm Desert.