The Cahuilla Indians were the sole inhabitants of the Coachella Valley for more than two thousand years. By 1876, the Cahuilla's territory had expanded to include nearly 28% of modern-day Cathedral City. In 1850, Colonel Henry Washington of the United States Army Corps of Engineers “discovered” the area and noted the canyon's resemblance to the interior of a grand cathedral. He appropriately named it Cathedral Canyon for its majestic natural architecture. Later, four developers had the same impression of the land and in 1925 they constructed the area's first official subdivision, Cathedral City.
One of Cathedral City's major attractions is the Fountain of Life, which was designed by local artist Jennifer Johnson. Artisans whose families have sculpted stone for more than 600 years carved the fountain pieces out of adoquin stone from a quarry near Guadalajara, Mexico. Once the individual pieces arrived in the desert, Johnson spent more than a year adorning the fountain with hand-cut mosaic tiles and glass.
Reflecting the nature and history of the desert, the fountain was constructed with three central stone columns surrounded by sculptures of big horn sheep, lizards, tortoises, fishes, shells, wildflowers, birds and other creatures found in the area, both past and present. A Cahuilla basket embedded in the stone pays tribute to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the first inhabitants of Cathedral City.
The city today is known as a stunning desert resort. Cathedral City boasts more than 18 hotels and motels, including the Doral, a 289-room hotel and executive suites resort. The adjoining Desert Princess Country Club is breathtaking and provides guests with year-round hotel conference and meeting space. The Desert Oasis Resort maintains a 450-acre, 27-hole championship golf course and is surrounded by the Cathedral Canyon Country Club, with more than 1,100 homes lining the course.
The Cathedral City Public Library is an ultra-modern facility that provides residents with a host of exhibits, historical collections, art, computer services and books from around the world. Cathedral City also maintains four well-maintained community parks, all of which provide a variety of fun-filled activities for the entire family.
Cathedral City is home to five elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Residents seeking further education can attend the fully accredited College of the Desert. The college offers various associate art degrees and works with local businesses providing contract education and a comprehensive array of training and management programs. Nearby satellite campuses of California State University, San Bernardino and Chapman University offer bachelors, masters and doctoral programs. The University of California at Riverside, the University of Redlands and the Claremont Colleges are all just one hour away. Soon to arrive is the A. Gary Anderson School of Management.
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