palm springs airport

Explore Palm Springs: Airport” Designed for Passengers”

Architect Donald Wexler was just 37 in 1961 when voters approved a bond to purchase 600 acres of tribal land to build the Palm Springs Municipal Airport.

Renee Brown Current Digital, History

palm springs airport
The entrance to the Palm Springs Municipal Airport when it was first built in the early 1960s.

In a special election held in 1961, 83 peercent of voters in the city of Palm Springs approved a $3 million bond to purchase the 600 acres of tribal land that the Palm Springs Municipal Airport sat on and to make improvements.

Local architect Donald Wexler was commissioned to design the new terminal. Wexler was only 37 years old at the time with no experience in designing airports. He spent months visiting other airports and consulting airlines. His goal was to streamline the arrival and departure areas.

In an interview he said that he designed the airport for the passengers not the planes. The terminal buildings formed an X so that the passengers could see everything from one corridor eliminating the need for unclear directional signs. The new terminal opened in 1966 on time and on budget.

The west façade of the building was given a Class I designation by the Historical Site Preservation Board. Between 1973 and 1982, an $11 million renovation took place which significantly expanded the airport.

There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 82 in 2020. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

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

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

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