History

 

From Palm Village to Palm Desert

As Clifford Henderson, the "Founder of Palm Desert" loved to say, "...hours more sun and lots more fun; the smartest address in the American Desert." Visit the Historical Society of Palm Desert, located in the old firehouse at 72-861 El Paseo, to see a photographic display of the history and development of Palm Desert.

1920's - The area north of Highway 111 was first called "The Old MacDonald Ranch," then "Palm Village." The beginning of date cultivation in the desert.

1932 - Highway 74 opens, built on former Palms To Pines trail, providing access to San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains and San Diego.

1943 - General Patton trains troops for desert warfare at Camp Young, east of Indio, and sets up maintenance camp in Palm Village. First residential development begins, in a sub- division called "Palm Village."

1946 - By end of World War II, there were six houses along Highway 111, including that of Edgar Bergen (and Charlie McCarthy).

1947 - Post office opens in Palm Desert, followed by a fire station, church, library and pharmacy. First "Golf Cart Parade" is held.

1948 - Cliff Henderson begins real estate development north of Highway 111, under the name "The Palm Desert Corporation." His brother Randall Henderson moves his publication, "The Desert Magazine" into the first commercial building in the area, still standing, at the southeast corner of El Paseo and Highway 111. Cliff Henderson opens the Shadow Mountain Club, which attracts celebrities and publicity to the area.

1951 - Palm Village and Palm Desert officially merge into "Palm Desert."

1954 - Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce incorporated.

1960 - The new city has 3,000 residents, with the population doubling every 3 1/2 years. Celebrities like Ike and Mamie Eisenhower, Harold Lloyd, Fred Waring, David Janssen, Gerald and Betty Ford make Palm Desert their home.

1973 - City of Palm Desert is incorporated.

2002 - Current population has grown to 42,350, with another 31,000 making Palm Desert their seasonal home.

 

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