Palm Springs Biltmore Hotel

Biltmore Hotel, circa 2000

In January 2000, we took a driving tour of some of the great architecture to be found in Southern California.
Our trip took us from the elegant 1920s "Twentynine Palms Inn" to the overblown glory of Hearst's
1920s "San Simeon" -- and many points in between.

Palm Springs was one of our last stops. Once there, we set out to find the urban ruins of the once-great
Biltmore Hotel, built circa 1947. We had been told of this wonderful ruin by a good friend of ours
who regularly bicycled past the fenced-in remains.

We drove our car to a spot in the fence that had been opened up, and parked. We walked through
and explored a couple of the still-standing bungalows. Walking inside was truly like walking into a time
frozen in the past: 1970s colors of Harvest Gold, and Avocado Green adorned the bed sheets, curtains,
lamp shades. There were bits and pieces of this and that strewn everywhere, including a television,
chairs, a table. We noticed the imposing fireplace built from local Palm Springs rocks. This must have been
a really neat place in its time.




Once done, we walked back to our car and drove around to the front of the hotel -- still fenced in.
We found another opening, and -- this time, taking our brand new digital camera -- went up to the
main entrance. When we could not get in, we walked around the side, all the while taking pictures.
We found some tall, narrow windows whose glass had been broken and covered by large pieces of plywood.
I shifted the plywood and noticed I could probably walk through the window and inside -- which is what I did.

Inside was pitch black. I found out later I had walked through a window leading into the once-posh
"1000 East" restaurant (earlier known as the "Garden Room"). I made my way through there and into
a large hallway: to the left was the lobby; to the right the breakfast and lunch dining room
stuffed full with patio chairs.


Breakfast/lunch dining room

Walkway out of lobby to pool

I took some more photographs and was shortly joined by my significant other -- concerned that I had not
come back. How could I? I was entranced by this frozen world that seriously looked ready to spring
to life -- rather like that hotel in "The Shining."

We walked around some more, rescued a brochure, a check receipt from the restaurant, a Biltmore Credit Card
folder, and a few pens. There was even a stack of unopened US Mail addressed to the hotel. We left that,
knowing it was a federal felony to steal mail -- even if it was nearly 20 years old.

1000 East, interior

Not wanting to stay any longer for fear of the police -- or ghosts -- we headed back out through
the window. I turned and took a totally blind shot of the restaurant interior. It was only upon
our return home that we were able to see the totally cool interior of this once-lavish restaurant.
I wish I had had a flashlight. Who knows what ephemera might have still been lying around waiting to be saved?

The Biltmore, of course, was demolished by uncaring developers in October 2003. Surely, more houses
and condos are preferable to the restoration of such a wonderful space -- and all the history that
was once inside.

Other Biltmore Ephemera

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