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Crescent Park


When Gary Bacon moved to Crescent Park in 1969, he was charmed by the small-town feel and individuality of the mostly single-story Craftsman bungalows.

Four years later when he needed a larger home, he opted to go just a few blocks.

He still recalls wheeling his piano down Guinda Street while a buddy played boogie woogie and new neighbors cheered.

Relationships were quickly forged over low fences — informal chats that evolved into Labor Day block-party traditions, Halloween costume parties, a wine co-op and backyard movie night with his rear garage as a screen.

In the 35 years since he moved onto Forest Avenue, the now-retired Los Altos High School teacher has seen plenty of changes, from the raising of rooflines and infill of homes on the deeper lots to the demise of those low between-neighbor fences and skyrocketing prices.

Despite the changes, Bacon is still struck by the congeniality of the neighbors. "I'm not going anywhere. I love it here," he said.

Tucked between San Francisquito Creek, Newell Road, Channing Avenue and Middlefield Road, Crescent Park has a quiet, secluded feel despite its proximity to downtown Palo Alto and traffic-laden University Avenue. Children play on the neighborhood's magnolia-lined sidewalks, and neighbors know they can rely on each other for help, advice and friendship.

But the friendly environment isn't the only thing that attracts people to Crescent Park. The area's architectural diversity, with Mediterranean, Early Californian and Victorian homes, appeals to many residents looking for a neighborhood with character.

"People come to Crescent Park who are looking for two-story houses, like in the suburbs around the big cities on the East Coast," said Norm Beamer, president of the Crescent Park Neighborhood Association. "Crescent Park tends to have that kind of architecture: large two-story houses on a traditional, tree-lined street. I think that's one of the unique things about the neighborhood."

Steve Staiger, Palo Alto's historian, notes that Crescent Park was originally part of a 2,200-acre land grant called Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito. In 1864, Dr. William Newell bought the land, where he planted some of the first eucalyptus trees in America.

For decades, the nearby San Francisquito Creek has caused its share of problems. Heavy El Nino rains wreaked millions of dollars of damage when the creek overflowed in 1998.

"You never would have expected a little creek that is normally dry to flood like that," Beamer said.

Much of Crescent Park is now in a designated flood zone, which means that mortgaged homes need to have flood insurance and that any major renovations require raising the house above the flood level.

Rather than focusing on the flood, most residents talk about the friendly atmosphere, elegant homes and fantastic location.

Beth O'Malley first moved to Crescent Park when she found a "great house" there. But if it's the house that brought her, it's the community that has kept her there for the past 10 years.

"I am surrounded on all sides ... by amazing neighbors, just amazing neighbors," O'Malley said. "I feel like we're all here for each other.

"Our kids all cat-sit and dog-sit and house-sit," O'Malley said. "It's a great way to start them out with a little responsibility from an early age."


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Crescent Park Child Development Center (Peekaboo), 888 Boyce Ave.

FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road

LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Norman Beamer, 650-327-7071

PARKS: Eleanor Pardee park, 851 Center Drive; Hopkins Creekside Park along Palo Alto Avenue

POST OFFICES: Hamilton, 380 Hamiliton Avenue; Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: St. Elizabeth Seton School, 1095 Channing Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Duveneck Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School

SHOPPING (NEARBY): The Willows Market, 60 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park

MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $2,085,000 ($750,000-$6,900,000)


MEDIAN 2008 CONDO PRICE: $767,500 ($735,000-$800,000)


View the neighborhood map (PDF)

— Jillian Keenan and Carol Blitzer

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Like this comment
Posted by Cresent Park Neighbor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:28 am

We love our neighborhood. If you love it then we'd love to have you buy a house here.

There is one caveat though. If you're going to knock down one of the existing, traditional homes, please build something that fits into the existing architectural style of Crescent Park. Please do NOT build a post modern structure that looks like two shoe boxes stacked on one another. Please do not build with materials that aren't used commonly in the existing neighborhood. Please do not build something that doesn't fit in. It's a pretty basic set of requests, but we're starting to see too many people moving in building houses that would fit better in South Beach, the OC, or some other locale.

If you want to show off your superior architectual creativity and taste please move to a neighborhood where your neighbors don't live in close proximity to your creation. If you disobey this basic request, you will end up with neighbors that dislike you for your "superior" taste.

Thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by jean
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Th.ankyou for saying whay I have always wanted to say!

Signed, Hater of Ugly Ikea style Homes.....(so distatesful)

Case in point, house on corner of Lincoln across from Addison School (IKEA hellhouse)

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