The serene tree-shaded streets of Evergreen Park are quiet but alive: More common than the roar of a car engine is a bicycle's gentle whirr, and residents stroll with their families, greeting each other in friendly tones. Many feel this small community, bounded by El Camino Real and Park Boulevard north of Page Mill Road, harkens back to simpler days that today's high-speed society has left behind.
"Evergreen Park has a terrific neighborhood community. Neighbors are often seen walking around the neighborhood, and the parks and California Avenue provide opportunities for neighbors to run into each other and build relationships," said Irene Au, who moved to her Oxford Avenue home in 1999.
"There are many families with children of similar age; some adults and children have formed lifelong friendships with their neighbors," she said.
David Schrom, president of the Evergreen Park Neighborhood Association, said the neighborhood traces its name back to 1907, when the area was first being marketed for its proximity to Stanford's new university. Further developed during the 1920s as part of Mayfield, the neighborhood lost its identity until "we reclaimed our name in 1980 when first forming the neighborhood association," he said.
Numerous street barriers — what Schrom calls "cul-de-sacs" — make Evergreen Park a confusing place to navigate, but residents like it that way.
The streets of Evergreen Park are lined with modest suburban homes, which, "given the high cost of living in Palo Alto, are still relatively accessible," Schrom said.
When Au purchased her home, she came to find unexpected value in the community surrounding it. "Everything you need is nearby — even though we're in the suburbs it is possible to live here without a car. We have the train station, the farmers' market, several grocery stores, shops, restaurants, post office. The ease with which you can get around on bike and on foot greatly improves the quality of life," she added.
Largely a neighborhood of retirees when Schrom moved in, Evergreen Park today is a hotspot for young couples looking to raise children.
"Our kids have a group of close friends that they've known ever since they were babies," said David Shapiro, Stanford Avenue resident since 1994 and father of two. He points to the fine reputation of Escondido Elementary School, with its children of Stanford grad students and the district's Spanish-immersion program.
Evergreen Park residents are committed to maintaining a safe and supportive community for their children. A few years ago the Peers Park playground was updated, and current concerns include speeders on Park Boulevard. The neighborhood association helps facilitate community bonding and action by holding a block party in June and a picnic in fall, often inviting local politicians to attend and connect with residents.
Sarah Carpenter, a mother of two who has lived on Park and Oxford since 1994, says Evergreen Park's success is simple: "It's small, well defined. It has services on California Avenue, a farmers' market and it has a park. So people get out of their houses.
"They walk and talk, and things start happening. It's not us; it's people taking advantage of the right environment to create a community."
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Casa dei Bambini Montessori School, 463 & 457 College Ave.; Escondido Kids' Club, 890 Escondido Road
FIRE STATION: No. 2, 2675 Hanover St.
LIBRARY: College Terrace branch, 2300 Wellesley St.
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: David Schrom, 650-325-2786
PARKS: Alexander Peers Park, 1899 Park Blvd.; Sarah Wallis Park, 202 Grant Ave.; Bowden Park, Alma Street and California Avenue
POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.
PRIVATE SCHOOL: The Living Wisdom School, 456 College Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Escondido Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
SHOPPING: California Avenue
MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $1,380,000 ($1,355,000-$1,455,000)
HOMES SOLD: 3
MEDIAN 2008 CONDO PRICE: $673,000 ($449,000-$955,000)
CONDOS SOLD: 15