Wednesday, November 11, 2020

SearchResearch Challenge (11/11/20): What happened here over the past 40 years?


When I was young my family would go on long car trips...  

Shields Date Farm--with excellent date milkshakes.

I know, it's a quintessentially American thing to do, but that's what we did in the summers of my youth--travel from Los Angeles to my grandparents places in either Wisconsin or Oklahoma, visiting various and sundry aunts, uncles, and cousins along the way.  

One of the most exotic and fun parts of the trip was driving through the area near Indio, CA.  It's about 100 miles due east of LA, smack in the middle of the desert, famous as a place that's between the Salton Sea and Palm Springs, pretty close to the city of Coachella.  It's flat, very warm and reminiscent of the deserts of the Middle East. 

No surprise, then, that the area around Indio became famous for their groves of date palms in the Coachella Valley. 

But for a young kid driving across California in those pre-Coachella Festival days, the big appeal of Indio was the date shakes.  They seemed SO exotic and tasted SO wonderful that it was a great attractor.  The kids would lobby hard to make sure we drove through Indio during business hours, even though it would probably be pretty hot.  That only made the date shakes even better.  Shields Date Gardens has great shakes, but also a documentary about the "romance and sex life of the date."  How could Mom & Dad NOT stop there? It's educational!  (Here's the YouTube version of that film, should you want to see it.)  

I haven't been there in probably 20 years (I found a closer source of date shakes), so I was fairly surprised when I happened to look at the Coachella Valley on Google Maps.  It's a MUCH different place than I remember from the days when we drove through in search of date-based frozen confections. 

That leads us to this week's Challenge:  

What are the largest changes to landuse in the Coachella Valley over the past 40 years?  (That is, the valley centered around: 33.711896, -116.210818) What kinds of changes can you spot?  

For this Challenge, we don't need a complex dataset search, but something more direct.  That is, how would you look at the landuses of the acreage in the valley?  What's a good tool to get that kind of information--and then how can you start to look at it and understand what's happened?  

Once you figure this out, let us all know what you did to understand the changes.  What sources do you go to?  

Search on! 

(Inspirational image below... 26 years of change near Dublin, CA.)  


  1. Interesting Challenge and related to what I was thinking some days ago. My neighborhood has changed a lot in less than 20 years. We had almost no people, Alfa and corn fields, cows taking sun and now it is almost 100 % concrete.

    For the Challenge I'm thinking a government office must have the land uses. And also thinking that The Festival maybe a big cause for the change. It will be interesting to find and see.

    About shakes, I didn't know about them! That sounds delicious. I'm sure here we don't have them so need to search for a recipe. Another thing we don't have is Pumpkin pie.

    1. Coachella valley land usage changes over time]

      PDF: Lesson 3 How has the Coachella Valley changed over time

      1890: The first planting of date palms by the U.S. Department of Agriculture took place.
      1903: Bernard Johnson planted the first private commercial date palms near Mecca.
      Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries in 1769 planted the first date palm seedlings in California

      [Coachella valley Bernard Johnson] still need to visit and read the results.

      [Indio California] and read Wikipedia and also where I need to read the demographics.

      In ten years had an increase of 55%. Indio was formerly referred to as the Hub of the Valley There I need to visit the Coachella Valley link in which I read that: "Early maps show the area as "Conchilla," the Spanish word for "seashell."

      [Coachella valley greatest changes] and with [Coachella how they got the name] Learned about the Festival and how the first one cost 50 USD and now it is bigger and the cost is more than 400 USD. Other interesting links to visit like

      An Insider's Guide to the Coachella Valley

      While doing my SRS, I am feeling that I am reading (and learning) about Coachella, Dates and History and not getting close to find the answer to the Challenge

    2. [Coachella Valley land use changes over time]

      Land Subsidence in the Coachella Valley

      With ["Coachella Valley" land use changes over time] on images found

      Mapping Two Decades of Landcover Change in the U.S.

      Ctrl F "Coachella": "this area sees an expansion of towns throughout the Coachella Valley along with the shrinkage of the inland Salton Sea..." ArcGis living

      Maybe ArcGis maps are the tool we are looking for.