So far my trip to Palm Springs has been rather blah with regards to shopping (I haven’t checked everything out yet though!), but has been very keen with regards to architecture. I’d like to take this time to highlight one of my favorite little spots here in Palm Springs… La Plaza.
La Plaza is a kind of cool, kind of sad, but extremely nifty shopping center and food spot in the heart of downtown Palm Springs.
Originally built in 1936, La Plaza served as a “one stop center”. On the lower levels on either side of the parking lot were a range of shops, which originally included a beauty parlor, bookstore, deli, pharmacy, jewelry shop and bicycle shop. Behind the shops were bungalows that you could rent by the night, week, or month, which included “a dandy wood-burning fireplace”! And above the shops, penthouses! Also available by the night, week, or month. Penthouses had two or three bedrooms, came completely furnished and included a private sun deck. Both options also included maid service. How swank would this place have been in the 30s and 40s? I snagged all of this information off of original pamphlets that had been scanned and enlarged and displayed in windows of some of the store fronts.
It’s obvious that La Plaza has seen better days, but it’s still a hub of action in Palm Springs. Today the place is home to a wide range of shops and services and restaurants. Tyler’s Burgers where I had lunch today was originally a gas station, later a bus depot and then an A&W. Some shops are a little touristy and with dated signage, but some are hip new hot spots to grab a bite to eat. There are still some vacant locations throughout the plaza just begging to be turned into nifty little shops. The only original place left is the Plaza Theatre. When La Plaza Theatre opened it premiered Gretta Garbo’s film Camille. The place was home to movies as well as live acts. The theatre closed in the late 1980s however it was rescued in the early 1990s and is now home to the Palm Springs Follies, where all of the cast members are between the ages of 54 and 83! May 2014 UPDATE: Due to the heavy costs, the Follies have now left, leaving the Plaza Theatre empty. March 2019 UPDATE: There is currently a campaign to restore the Plaza Theatre. Read more here.
I do love this little location, I’d love to explore it more, especially the rooftop penthouses and bungalows, so who knows! You may see some more of La Plaza in future Palm Springs entries!