Located 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose, Palo Alto is a community of approximately 61,200 residents. Located within Santa Clara County and bordering San Mateo County, Palo Alto is strategically located and easily accessible to major surface routes including Interstate 280, Highway 101, Highway 84 and Highway 92. Air transportation is easily accessible by bus, automobile or shuttle service to San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland international airports.
Unique among California cities, Palo Alto is a full-service municipality that owns and operates its gas, electric, water, sewer, refuse and storm drainage services at very competitive rates for its customers. As befits the city known as the "Birthplace of the Silicon Valley," the city has developed a 31-mile dark fiber ring for ultra-fast Internet access.
Complementing its exciting and innovative business community, Palo Alto's residents are highly educated, politically aware and culturally sophisticated. An abundance of local pride and numerous neighborhood organizations contribute to Palo Alto's charming historic and upscale commercial and residential areas.
Characteristic of Palo Alto is the care taken to protect open space and parkland. Palo Alto has a remarkable number of city-owned parks for its size and nearly one-third of its 26 square miles is open space. The city also provides residents with access to tennis courts (52), community centers (4), theaters (3), swimming pools (3), nature centers (2), an athletic center, golf course, cultural center, junior museum and zoo. The city has six public libraries with a circulation of 926,128.
Palo Alto's San Francisco Bay location and natural environment offer the opportunity to enjoy bird and aquatic life in a natural habitat. The city's proximity to Stanford University with its cultural and educational offerings adds to the vibrancy, innate charm and beauty of Palo Alto. Built in 1891 in memory of Leland Stanford, Jr., the Stanford University campus covers 8,180 acres and is centered around the "quad," a complex of classrooms and offices in early-California style. The renovated Stanford Memorial Church stands at its center.
As might be expected, education plays an important part in the community. More than 65% of adult residents have four or more years of college, one-third of adults over 25 have earned at least one graduate degree.
More than 100 years old, Palo Alto is named for a majestic 250-year old coastal redwood tree along San Francisquito Creek, where early Spanish explorers settled. The El Palo Alto is the tree underneath which Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola made camp in 1769, eventually giving the city its name.
There are numerous historic landmarks within the city. The Hewlett-Packard Garage is known as the "Birthplace of Silicon Valley," William Hewlett & David Packard developed the product and company that began the first generation of high tech scientists, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders that now comprise Silicon Valley. St. Thomas Aquinas Church is the oldest church in Palo Alto (1902). This Gothic Revival building was used as a location in the classic film "Harold & Maude." The Greg Brown Series features nine murals depicting people in surreal surroundings that decorate the walls of downtown buildings. Painted by Greg Brown, a nationally known Palo Alto artist.
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