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Palo Alto Information

Community Information for Palo Alto

Palo Alto
has gained a reputation as the “birthplace of Silicon Valley” for its innovative research centers and vast number of high tech companies. Palo Alto is bordered by Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos and Portola Valley. The city stretches from the San Francisco Bay to the Skyline Ridge, with a number of natural habitats including estuaries, marshes and oak forests. In 2007 Palo Alto ranked the 5th most expensive city in the Unites States, with an average home sale price of $1,677,000. Keeping at the forefront of technological advances, Palo Alto is one of the few cities that has invested in creating a network that brings high-speed internet to customers in the business district. The city hopes to eventually expand the “31-mile dark fiber ring” network to each home within the city. Unlike its surrounding communities, Palo Alto is unique in that is provides residents with city run electric and gas services, as well as operating their own electric power distribution and cable network. This is an added bonus for residence, who in the summer of 2000 were unaffected by the rolling blackouts which plagued the Bay Area. Palo Alto is an innovative, environmentally conscious city that offers a vibrant downtown and abundant open space while still keeping its charming mixture of old and new.


The city was named from a group of tall redwood trees, which were aptly named El Palo (“stick”) Alto (”tall”). Through the early 1800’s Palo Alto saw an influx of Spanish settlers, this aspect of the city’s heritage is evident in some of the current street names in use. 

In 1853, Elisha Crosby purchased 250 acres from what was once a 6,981 acre hacienda. This expansive area was dubbed Mayfield, and its township was formed in 1855. In 1886, Leland Stanford came to Mayfield with an interest in starting a university. Stanford had a train stop erected in Mayfield’s downtown, which is now called California Street. Soon after, Stanford requested the banning of alcohol in the town. Mayfield rejected this reform and refused to give up the towns 13 saloons. With the help of his Southern Pacific Railroad friend, Stanford purchased 740 acres and formed Palo Alto as a Temperance Town in 1894. In the following years Stanford would set up his university, Stanford University, and build a train station for this new town. In the following years Palo Alto grew to the size of Mayfield, and in 1925 Palo Alto residents voted for annexation of Mayfield. Both communities were eventually consolidated later that year. To this day Palo Alto still has two distinct downtowns, one that Stanford erected along University Avenue, the other (originally the Mayfield downtown) along California Avenue.

Distinctive Properties  |   648 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025  |   650.328.8881  |   BRE #: 01023392  |

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