Explore Palm Springs: Palm Trees Line Palm Canyon Drive

Formal dedication in fall includes intro of future starlet Mamie Van Doren

In the summer of 1949, Palm Canyon Drive became tree-lined with palm trees.

Courtesy of the Palm Springs Historical Society

In the summer of 1949, the installation of more than 300 palm trees along Palm Canyon Drive was part of a $950,000 civic improvement plan began in downtown Palm Springs.

Approximately 150 each of Washingtonia filifera and Washingtonia robusta were planted 35 to 40 feet apart. The palms, lining either side of the street, were equipped with water lines that watered every tree simultaneously.

The trees planted ranged in size from 12 to 25 feet tall. Each was adorned with a fixture that provided lighting for the sidewalks and streets below.

A formal dedication of the newly planted palms took place the evening of Oct. 1, 1949. A barbecue and dance was held in celebration of the occasion with a special guest, a young aspiring starlet named Joan Olander.

Olander, named Miss Palm Springs in 1949, is better known by the subsequently acquired stage name of Mamie Van Doren.

As Palm Springs celebrates its 75th anniversary, there are a multitude of ways to learn more about this desert treasure. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

Weekly, the Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org

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