La Quinta is a resort city between Indian Wells and Indio. The population was 23,694 at the 2000 census. The Robb Report says that La Quinta is the nation’s leading golf destination. La Quinta golf resorts include the La Quinta Resort and Club, a resort dating to 1926 and famous as the spot in which director Frank Capra penned the screenplay of Lost Horizon. The Tom Fazio-designed golf course at The Quarry at La Quinta is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the United States. In January 2008, the Arnold Palmer Classic Course at the city’s SilverRock Golf Resort, became one of the four host golf courses for the annual Bob Hope Chrysler Classic PGA golf tournament.
The area of La Quinta was first established in the early 18th century (est. 1776) by Spanish conquistadores under the command of Captain Juan Bautista De Anza, as the fifth resting point for travellers along the route from present-day Mexico to the San Gabriel Missions of Los Angeles and present-day Riverside. The words “la quinta” are Spanish, translating to “the fifth”. The word “quinta” is known in Mexico as a type of hacienda. Spanish and later Mexican settlement in the “East Valley” (Eastern Coachella Valley) was sparse, most residents were members of the indigenous Cahuilla tribe. The earliest records of any inhabitation of La Quinta and other communities was in 1823, after Mexico declared independence from Spain, prior to California’s annexation by the United States in 1848.
Modern development and incorporation
In the late-19th century and early-20th century (1880–1920), agriculture developed in present-day La Quinta and “East Valley” by pre-modern and modern irrigation techniques. At the time, California and federal land surveyors declared the sand dunes uninhabitable, only the hard rock ground of the “Marshall Cove” held potential farming and residential development.
In 1927, Walter Morgan established the La Quinta Resort at the northern section of “Marshall Cove”, as a type of secluded hideaway for nearby Hollywood’s celebrities and socialites. The Resort was the site for the Coachella Valley’s first golf course, coinciding with the construction and pavement of State Route 111 in the 1930s. Further expansion of Washington Street in the 1950s and 1960s connected La Quinta with US Highways 60 and 99 (became Interstate 10 in the 1970s).
La Quinta’s growth rose dramatically by the mid-1990s, which led to its incorporation as a city in 1982. In the 1980 census, La Quinta had 4,200 residents, then increased to 11,215 by 1990. Once predominantly a part-time community until the early-1990s, more full-time residents now live in La Quinta. There are many newer high-end residential developments in La Quinta, many of which are centered around golf-course living.
Tourism and Retail
The cooler winter months are the height of tourist season. Golfing is the most prominent industry in La Quinta with more than twenty golf courses, including the world-famous PGA West which has hosted prestigious tournaments such as The Skins Game, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, The Grand Slam of Golf, The Legends of Golf, as well as the PGA Tour Qualifying School. In recent years there has been a tremendous growth in reatil in La Quinta. Both discount (Target and Home Depot), and higher-end retailers (Kohl’s and Stein Mart) brought millions of revenue dollars to the city.
La Quinta is the site of the first Wal-Mart Supercenter in California. Moreover many residents work for the tourist industries in hotels, resorts, golf courses, and nearby Vegas-style casinos, such as: Spa Resort Casino, Agua Caliente Casino, Spotlight 29, Fantasy Springs and Augustine Casino. There are many service industry jobs related to the construction, hotel, landscaping, and retail industries. La Quinta has sought to bring in high-paying professional businesses to the city and has benefited from neighboring cities’ growth (Indio, Palm Desert and Palm Springs). The city’s downtown commercial district is known as “The Village.” The Village District includes private commercial developments such as “Old Town” and “Plaza Calle Tampico,” and contains many professional offices, the City museum, small tourist-oriented shops and boutiques and restaurants.
The city has a public library that began operations in 2005.
The Desert Sands Unified School District services the entire city of La Quinta, and maintains the following public schools:
- John Adams Elementary School
- Harry S. Truman Elementary School
- Benjamin Franklin Elementary School
- Amelia Earhart Elementary School of International Studies, an IB World School
- La Quinta Middle School, opened in 1987, a charter school.
- Colonel Mitchell Paige Middle School on the city limits with Palm Desert.
- John Glenn Middle School of Intermediate Studies in nearby Indio.
- La Quinta High School, an IB World School
- Summit High School, an alternative/independent studies school
- Summit High School, a continuation high school opened in 2006, next to Mitchell Paige Middle School.
- Horizon High School and Horizon Middle School located next to the Desert Sands Unified School District administration building.