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Palm Springs Downtown Park

downtown park grove

The beautiful Palm Springs Downtown Park is a 1.5-acre public open space in the heart of downtown. It offers a shady oasis for residents and visitors near the Palm Springs Art Museum and the vibrant retail hub along Palm Canyon Drive. It is located at the intersection of Belardo Road and Museum Way adjacent to the “Forever Marilyn” statue.

forever marilyn by downtown park

“This park will represent our Palm Springs community and relaxed desert lifestyle perfectly,” said Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege. “In fact, I’d venture to guess that you won’t see anything like it anywhere else in the world and that’s just because it’s been designed just for us, just for our community.”

Nellie Coffman and the Desert Inn

The Downtown Park is located on a portion of the grounds of the historic Desert Inn. Opened in 1909, it was the first sanatorium resort in Palm Springs. The warm dry air and climate made Palm Springs an ideal location for those with respiratory ailments, so Palm Springs began as a place of wellness and healing.

Earl Coffman, Nellie Coffman and George Roberson circa 1926. PHOTO COURTESY PALM SPRINGS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Earl Coffman, Nellie Coffman and George Roberson circa 1926.
Credit: PALM SPRINGS HISTORICAL SOCIETY

After the discovery of the Tuberculosis vaccine in 1921, Nellie had already began to move away from a Sanatorium to a resort hotel. Later, guests were granted access to the nearby O’Donnell golf course. The roster of visitors in the 1920’s included Cornelius Vanderbuilt Jr., the three sons of William Randolph Hearst, New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, J. Edgar Hoover, and Shirley Temple, among others. This enters a time when Palm Springs becomes the playground for the rich, the famous, and the powerful, yet remaining a small village.

desert inn

Nellie Coffman is a leading pioneer of Palm Springs. The Downtown Park espoused the space, stillness, solitude, and simplicity of Palm Springs and the park imbues her spirit. Locally sourced stone and native desert plantings create a common ground rooted in a sense of place for the diverse and growing community of Palm Springs and its visitors. You will find a plaque dedicated to Nellie Coffman in the grove.

Inspired by Indian Canyons

Indian Canyons are the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. These canyons are especially sacred to the Cahuilla people and are historically significant. The Cahuilla people thrived there for thousands of years.

The Palm Springs Downtown Park design draws inspiration from local natural features of Indian Canyons. For example, Indian Canyons has the largest natural grove of a particular palm tree (washingtonia filifera) that is indigenous to Palm Springs.

Group walking in the Indian Canyons

The park includes a thick grove of this unique palm tree that makes you feel like you are actually in Indian Canyons. Meander through the pathways and native plants, exploring our new downtown nature. The palm trees also offers ample shading.

Tahquitz Canyon Waterfall

Tahquitz Canyon is home to a spectacular seasonal 60-foot waterfall created through an ancient rock irrigation system. Hollywood director Frank Capra used the falls as a backdrop in his 1937 film “Lost Horizon.” In the film, the waterfall is called Shangri-La.

lost horizon

Tahquitz Waterfall is the inspiration behind the impressive waterfall at the Downtown Park and complements the native landscaping. Just in front of the waterfall is a dancing water feature that also includes ever changing mist and smoke.

downtown park waterfall

Other Features

Also available are two picnicking eco-lawns and amphitheater seating for community events. Adjacent streets will act as an extension of the park, allowing flexibility for larger gatherings.

There are public unisex bathrooms with an outdoor hand-washing station that sits next to a new Palm Springs police substation. This provides officers a new downtown location to monitor the city and keep the Palm Springs Downtown Park safe for everyone.

 

By Randy Garner

 

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