Konstantina Tzakoniati

Palm Springs: a mecca of mid-century modern architecture

Far Out hops back into our ludicrously warm Mustang seat and we continue along the road with the first edition of our road trip series. California has been the destination, driving through the drastically differing environment of America’s largest populated state.

After leaving Los Angeles, we arrived here, in Palm Springs.

The Californian desert resort, as previously mentioned in our featured piece, lives somewhat constrained by past headlines with the ever-relenting reference to the Hollywood stars that once set up home 100 miles away from the glamour of LA.

In doing so, the rich and the famous inadvertently turned Palm Springs into a living architectural museum before moving on. The locals will still point out the former homes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe from time-to-time but that shouldn’t distract you from the structural surroundings—it just so happens that the most impressive buildings were once owned by the rich and famous, who’d have thought it?

Looking around, however, Palm Springs is bizarrely beautiful. Architects inspired by the desert landscape and modern techniques like the Bauhaus and International Style, 1950s developers adopted what is now called Desert Modernism—a style that dominates the area.

Architects like Donald Wexler, Richard Neutra Albert Frey, John Porter Clark and more have helped scape the landscape since the 1920s and onwards. It’s a truly surreal and magical place, Palm Springs and the aura of the place does begin to have an effect. We drove around all the neighbourhoods and tried to snap as many interesting spots we could find, here are some of the best.

palm springs3
Palm Springs
palm springs 4
Palm Springs

You should book a mid-century tour with ‘Palm Springs Modern Tours’ who detail some of the key spots to check out, that included the Tramway Gas Station, The Wexler Steel Houses and Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway.

The 11 key attractions seemed to be the following:

1. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 1963
2. Racquet Club Road Alexanders, 1959-62
3. The Wexler Steel Houses, 1961-62
4. Tramway Gas Station, 1963-65
5. SunMor Estates, 1955-1962
6. Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway, 1957
7. Palm Springs Post Office, 1970
8. Bank of America, 1959
9. Twins Palms Estates Alexanders, 1960
10. Palm Springs City Hall, 1952-1957
11. Kaufmann House, 1946-47

All of which, you can find in the map below. Also, for more information, click here. 

palm springs
Palm Springs
Palm Springs
Palm Springs

Aside from the architecture, there’s plenty of other stuff going on in Palm Springs… The Aerial Tramway is definitely worth checking out, it climbs 6000 feet high and offers impressive views of the landscape.

By now you should know that Far Out are always in search of some kind of natural hot spring and the aptly named Desert Hot Springs will always be worth a visit. That said, given the average age of the town, we can’t guarantee the clientele.

As mentioned earlier, The Palm Springs Art Museum has some great shows on most of the time and the building itself, sticking with the architecture theme, is something of a marvel.

Bars, food, and other things we enjoyed can be found on this map:

palm springs 2
Palm Springs

Far Out’s trip to California was in conjunction with Visit California, for more information head to the official website of Visit The USA, here. 

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content