Not far from the bustle of the California Avenue commercial district lies a neighborhood so quiet one can hear the evening crickets.
Located between Oregon Expressway, Park Boulevard, El Camino Real and College Avenue, Evergreen Park offers easy access to the shopping district, Stanford University and Caltrain, as well as the College Terrace Library and Peers Park.
The location and access are among the main draws for residents. They're also attracted to a family atmosphere with kids of various ages, and a diverse community.
Two annual events in this neighborhood -- a block-party potluck and the Peers Park barbecue -- draw residents together. Every year the block party is held on a different street, Steve Godfrey, a resident of Oxford Avenue since 1999, said.
"The neighborhood has a broad base of involvement this way because rather than have it at one corner every year we have it at different sections. ... Rotating it gives everyone a chance to be involved," he said.
Many families here with children commute to local schools and play together, he said. His son and daughter bike to local Jordan Middle School with a group of kids.
Homes vary in size and architectural styles as well as lot size. In one of the streets one can see three different fence styles, made of brick, stone or wood.
There are about 150 single-family homes, and about 250 multi-family homes that include condos as well as apartments, David Schrom, a resident of Oxford Avenue since 1976 and neighborhood association president, said.
Many homes are newly built and many others recently renovated. Some older houses date back to before the town of Mayfield was joined with Palo Alto.
Tommy Derrick, a Leland Avenue resident, lives in one of a few historical Evergreen Park homes with a history stretching back to Mayfield days. Called the Lockwood-Holston house, it was built for the Station Master Bert Holston and his wife, Gussie Ash Holston.
Derrick has lived here since 1977 and says this is the best neighborhood in all of Palo Alto. The access it brings as well as the local park really makes Evergreen Park shine, he said.
Although California Avenue and El Camino Real give close access to shopping, some residents feel the negative aspects of spill-over parking and traffic.
The traffic problem was solved some time ago by using cul-de-sacs, a traffic circle, islands and one-way signage to discourage drivers from using the neighborhood streets as shortcuts. However, parking is still a problem at times, according to Schrom.
"Parking issues are exacerbated by continuing growth and the implementation of permit parking in the nearby College Terrace neighborhood," he said.
Both Derrick and Schrom pointed out that Evergreen Park has a variety of ethnicities, ages and occupations, and the neighborhood has a strong sense of camaraderie.
"I think there are many good-hearted people that I enjoy living among," Schrom said.
"This is a neighborhood where people take care of each other," Derrick said, recalling the '89 Loma Prieta earthquake when various neighbors went to look in on each other. To the community's relief, not a single resident was injured.
-- Mike Lata
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.
LOCATION: between Oregon Expressway, Park Boulevard, El Camino Real and College Avenue
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: David Schrom, 650-323-7333
PARKS: Alexander Peers Park, 1899 Park Blvd.; Sarah Wallis Park, 202 Grant Ave.; Bowden Park, 2380 High St.
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 2011 HOME PRICE: $1,475,000 ($835,000-$1,800,000)
HOMES SOLD: 5
MEDIAN 2011 CONDO PRICE: $565,000 ($470,000-$1,130,000)
CONDOS SOLD: 17