Palm Springs is a sun-baked oasis in the Southern California desert, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. In the late 19th century, the town grew up around a Southern Pacific Railroad line. A sanitarium, mineral springs and a resort hotel eventually drew scions of the Hearst and Vanderbilt families. “Wealth and fashion, as such, are not much attracted to our village,” wrote J. Smeaton Chase, in a charming book about the city published in 1920. But only a few years later, wealth had arrived in force, transforming his “unspoiled” enclave into a fashionable and glamorous resort.

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