Folks who have been to our house know that Gabriel and I favor a kind of atomic ranch aesthetic. We believe that there are plenty of reasons to be glad that this is 2012 and not 1952, but the distinct absence of boomerang bars from most living spaces is not one of them. And that's why I need to tell you about the Orbit In in Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is a really odd place. It's a tiny desert town way out past the giant windfarms that stand sentinel along the 10 more than an hour east of Los Angeles. The temperatures are extreme (108 degrees fahrenheit on one of the days we were there) and terrain is practically Martian. Yet somehow this has always been a get-away spot for Angelenos with an eccentric streak. Apparently this was particularly true during the middle part of last century, when the Orbit In (then called "The Village Manor") was built by Herb Burns in 1947. It was later photographed by the famed architectural photographer Julius Shulman, so a nice record remains of what the original property looks like. It isn't really much different now, what with the original tiles in the bathrooms and the vintage furnishings in the guest rooms.
Albert Einstein in Palm Springs, 1932
Visiting from Los Angeles, it's strange to see so much history in one place. Most of Palm Springs seems to be a time capsule. There are entire neighborhoods filled with restored mid-century modern homes. Vintage shops line the main street, nestled between bookshops and tourist traps. The neighborhood surrounding the Orbit In is known as the Tennis Club and once played host to Albert Einstein, Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin, and even Winston Churchill, according to the Orbit In's website. And the thing is, you don't have to look hard to see it. The buildings have either never been altered or have been restored to their former glory. Not a bad place to spend a couple of days in the middle of summer if you don't mind the heat.