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Palo Alto

Palo Alto, the City commonly known as the "Birthplace of the Silicon Valley", is recognized worldwide as a leader in cutting-edge technological development serving as an incubator to Google and Facebook as well as headquarters of HP, VMware, Tesla and many more high-tech companies. This exciting mix of tradition and innovation makes Palo Alto an extraordinary place in which to operate a business (home to more than 7,000 businesses) and offers a unique blend of old and new, with Palo Alto’s tree-lined streets and historic buildings reflecting its California heritage.

Palo Alto is home to Stanford University as well as Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. The public school system (13 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 2 high schools) is one of the best in the country.

Palo Alto is a community located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, California. The 2010 United States Census reported that Palo Alto had a population of 64,403. Palo Alto has a remarkable number of City-owned parks for its size (34 at last count) and nearly one-third of its 26 square miles is open space.

History:

The recorded history of Palo Alto dates back to 1769, when Gaspar de Portolá noted an Ohlone settlement. A plaque at Middlefield Road and Embarcadero Road commemorates the area. The city got its name from a tall coast redwood tree, named El Palo Alto, which still stands on the east bank of San Francisquito Creek near its intersection with El Camino Real. Leland Stanford Jr. established the City of Palo Alto at the same time he established Stanford University (named in memory of his deceased son) and was incorporated in 1894.

The township of Mayfield was formed in 1855, in what is now southern Palo Alto. In 1875, French financier Jean Baptiste Paulin Caperon, better known as Peter Coutts, purchased land in Mayfield and four other parcels around three sides of today's College Terrace – more than a thousand acres extending from today's Page Mill Road to Serra Street and from El Camino Real to the foothills. Coutts named his property Ayrshire Farm. Leland Stanford started buying land in the area in 1876 for a horse farm, called the Palo Alto Stock Farm. Stanford bought Ayrshire Farm in 1882. Jane and Leland Stanford, Sr. founded Stanford University in 1891, dedicated to his son who died of typhoid fever at age 15 in 1884.

In 1886, Stanford came to Mayfield, interested in founding his university there. He had a train stop created near his school on Mayfield's downtown street, Lincoln Street (now named California Avenue). However, he had one condition: alcohol had to be banned from the town. Known for its 13 rowdy saloons, Mayfield rejected his requests for reform. This led him to drive the formation of Palo Alto as a Temperance Town in 1894 with the help of his friend Timothy Hopkins of the Southern Pacific Railroad who bought 740 acres  of private land in 1887 for the new townsite. The Hopkins Tract, bounded by El Camino Real, San Francisquito Creek, Boyce, Channing, Melville, and Hopkins Avenues, and Embarcadero Road, was proclaimed a local Heritage District during Palo's Alto Centennial in 1994. Stanford set up his university, Stanford University, and a train stop (on University Avenue) by his new town. With Stanford's support, saloon days faded and Palo Alto grew to the size of Mayfield. On July 2, 1925, Palo Alto voters approved the annexation of Mayfield and the two communities were officially consolidated on July 6, 1925. This saga explains why Palo Alto has two downtown areas: one along University Avenue and one along California Avenue.

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