Just Across the street from Downtown Los Altos and behind Foothill Expressway lies Old Los Altos. Shoup Park and Redwood Grove, a nature preserve, blend seamlessly into the landscape on University Avenue where children and nature lovers alike enjoy the ambiance.
"It is a small community that has a really strong community feeling within the big Silicon Valley, San Francisco madness," resident Christine Talbot said.
After growing up in Los Altos Hills where it took 45 minutes to walk to town, Talbot wanted better for her kids.
"One of my priorities was I could walk into town, my kids could walk into town. They could walk to their friends' houses. They could walk to school. They could walk to the library," she said.
Talbot found this ideal location in Old Los Altos on a cul-de-sac called Middlebury Lane. The cul-de-sac is located right off University Avenue, the longest street in Old Los Altos, and was developed in the 1970s. Talbot, a retired high school teacher and now business owner in downtown Los Altos, has lived in this neighborhood for the past 22 years with her husband and two children. Just after her daughter was born in 1989, there were 27 children in the 15 houses that make up this neighborhood. The parents carpooled to school and the kids all played together.
"Everybody's policy was if you wanted to go in the backyard, you asked permission, but everyone was free to play in the front yard," Talbot said.
Even though many of the children are now grown, the neighborhood remains a tight-knit community with three particularly strong traditions. Every Labor Day, neighbors block off the street and have a massive Labor Day party with food and activities that all the children and parents attend.
The adults do a progressive dinner every year where they move from one house to the next eating food and enjoying each other's company. The best part, Talbot claims, comes at the end of the evening when "we have the most cut-throat game of males versus females Pictionary you have ever seen." The neighborhood still keeps track of who wins every year.
The "Ladies of Middlebury,"as they call themselves, also have dinner once a month.
Around the corner lives the Mickos family. Originally from Finland, Anikka Mickos, her husband and three children moved to Los Altos Hills in 2003 and then settled on University Avenue in 2008.
Before they left Europe, Mickos researched where the best schools were in the Bay Area and chose the Los Altos School district, which she is very happy with. She loves the community and the dogs that play across the street on the grassy expanse of Lincoln Park. Her daughter can walk or bike to school and her friends' houses.
"This is a wonderful neighborhood. … We have the best neighbors you could ask for," Mickos said.
She too participates in the Labor Day festivities and progressive dinner on Middlebury lane. Every Halloween, University Avenue and neighboring Orange Avenue are very popular locations for trick-or-treating. Mickos gets more than 100 trick-or-treaters every year.
"I couldn't imagine myself living anywhere else," Mickos said.
-- Lisa Kellman
FIRE STATION: No. 15, 10 Almond Ave.
LIBRARY: Los Altos, 13 S. San Antonio Road
LOCATION: between El Monte and Edith avenues, Foothill Expressway and Los Altos Hills border
PARKS: Village Park, Edith Avenue at San Antonio Road; Shoup Park, 400 University Ave.; Lincoln Park, University at Lincoln Avenue; Redwood Grove Nature Preserve, 482 University Ave.
POST OFFICE: Main, 100 First St.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Los Altos School District -- Covington Elementary School, Egan Intermediate School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Los Altos High School; Bullis Charter School
SHOPPING: The Village (the triangle bordered by Edith, San Antonio and Foothill)
MEDIAN 2013 HOME PRICE: $2,400,000 ($1,600,000-$4,600,000)
HOMES SOLD: 11
MEDIAN 2013 CONDO PRICE (nearby): $1,625,000 ($1,350,000-$1,900,000)
CONDOS SOLD: 5