Thursday, April 9, 2015


Whether you are a get-in-the car-and-go traveler or an arm chair traveler who likes to read about excursions, California is full of great places to visit, especially in spring when flowers are in bloom and the weather seems near perfect. One great destination is Palm Springs, with its idiosyncratic history, striking vegetation and geography and fabulous architecture. The Monrovia Public Library has some terrific books about this favorite town.

Published by the Palm Springs Historical Society and written by Frank Bogert, the first is Palm Springs the First 100 Years.  The author, who arrived in Palm Springs in 1927 and later served as its mayor, has written a marvelous history of how the town was part of the Agua Caliente Native American reservation and went from being a winter resort to a year round tourist sanctuary.

Yes, but what about the movie stars who visited? Palm Springs Babylon: Sizzling Stories from the Desert Playground of the Stars is a gossipy look at the well-behaved and misbehaving celebrities who visited. The golden age of Hollywood is covered with stories of Cary Grant, Greta Garbo and Errol Flynn, while television stars are highlighted by stories about Lucy and Desi, Liberace and Dinah Shore. The book has fun pictures that add to the sizzle.
On every visitor’s list is the town’s glorious mid-20th century architecture, the low slung houses with glass walls, sleekly modern furniture and blue swimming pools. Palm Springs Modern: Houses in the California Desert by Adele Cygelman and Palm Springs Weekend:  The Architecture and Design of a Mid-Century Oasis by Alan Hess are stunning picture books, with accompanying text, of the get-away homes that were designed by brilliant architects like Albert Frey, John Lautner and William Cody. These books are great introductions to just one of the reasons that Palm Springs is such a hot spot.

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