Palm Springs, California is where the elite Wyeth family resides in Jon Robin Baitz’s play Other Desert Cities. Located approximately 110 miles southeast of Los Angeles and 140 miles northeast of San Diego, Palm Springs lies on the western edge of the Coachella Valley within the Colorado Desert. At 487 feet above sea level, Palm Springs is bordered by the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the north, the Santa Rosa Mountains on the south, and the San Jacinto Mountains to the west. To the east of Palm Springs are several other desert cities including Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, and Indio.
Palm Springs averages more than 350 days of sunny weather. During the summer months, temperatures can reach upwards of 100°F. During the winter months, Palm Springs weather generates highs of 70° and lows of 40°F. In 2004, the population in Palm Springs was estimated at 44,752 and doubled during the winter season.
In Jon Robin Baitz script, the play opens on Christmas Eve Morning in 2004. In Palm Springs on December 24, 2004, the weather was reported as a high of 64°F and a low of 43°F.
Historically, Palm Springs first residents were ancestors of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. By April 1938, 910 registered voters elected to incorporate Palm Springs into a city. By this time, Palm Springs would become known as the “playground of the stars.” Stars such as Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope ventured to Palm Springs to relax, socialize, and escape the press. For the stars, politicians, and business tycoons, Palm Springs provided a cloak of invisibility and reassurance. Likewise, the architecture in Palm Springs created a guarded oasis in which privacy was premium.
The backyards became a spacious location for spectacular views and entertaining. Palm Springs was noted as having more swimming pools per capita than any other city in the world. Roughly, this would equal one pool for every four residents. Notably, Frank Sinatra famously had a pool built in his backyard in the shape of a piano.
By Artistic Associate Tamera N. Izlar