Time Traveler: Mojave Modern

Sunny, sandy Palm Springs is an oasis of retro-cool Modernist architecture

I've always found the two-hour drive from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, Calif., to be deeply dislocating, in the best sense of the word. Route 111, the main approach to town, veers suddenly off from Interstate 10 to cut a jazzy angle across the desert, unplugging you at last from the freeway grid. Past the turnoff, the six-mile drive into town, with its surreal juxtaposition of ancient mountains and shiny new energy-producing windmills, seems to further separate you from the everyday. And then the big, welcoming surprise: the sharply angled roof of the Tramway Gas Station looming over a low wall...

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