When Bill Helvey moved to Los Altos' Rancho neighborhood in 1963, the surrounding area featured simple ranch homes, empty lots and a semi-rural feel.
Helvey was initially attracted to the neighborhood's quaint, small-town atmosphere.
"I kind of grew up in that sort of environment," he said.
According to Helvey, Rancho's aesthetics have changed in a half century.
"The lots are largely filled up and the houses are enormous … It's getting more elbow-to-elbow."
And, like in many a Silicon Valley neighborhood, the hustle and bustle of the tech industry has replaced much of the rural charm.
"Some old-timers liked … when you could see trees," Helvey said of downtown Los Altos' shifting landscape.
But to another resident, one important neighborhood feature has stayed the same. Bob Jacobsen, who moved in 1974, appreciates that the single-story home is still a predominant fixture in Rancho.
Lush foliage lines Rancho's wide, often curving streets. The green gives way to peeks at long, low rooflines, large shuttered windows and overhanging eaves of many a traditional ranch-style property.
"The character is still the same," he said of the architecture. He added, "I'm in favor of keeping the one-story traditional (architectural style)."
Both Helvey and Jacobsen noted the staggering jumps in housing prices, a change that Helvey said may mean that "your children can't live in your neighborhood."
Since the middle of the 20th century, the neighborhood's demographic has shifted, too.
Of when he moved to Rancho, Jacobsen said, "Back then, it was mostly (Hewlett Packard) and (Lockheed Martin employees) … it was mostly engineers before."
Now, Jacobsen estimated that of Rancho's residents, "maybe one-third of the people are retired."
"Our street is very multicultural," Jacobsen added. He said his neighborhood is home to Taiwanese, Icelandic and Armenian families, among other populations.
As for shopping, residents frequent Rancho Shopping Center and downtown Los Altos.
Rancho Shopping Center, a dark, wood complex rife with shady walkways and convenient parking, offers several bakeries, gyms, boutiques and grocery shopping.
Jacobsen said he visits Rancho Shopping Center most often for carry-out pizza and the gas station. Still, the quaint shopping center is not a one-stop shop for him.
"It was too bad the hardware store left," he said. "Now I have to go downtown."
Helvey does most of his shopping at Andronico's in Rancho Shopping Center and the Safeway at Blossom Valley Center in Mountain View.
"That's a much bigger shopping center," he said of the Mountain View complex.
Helvey also ventures outside of Los Altos for physical activity. He plays racquetball five or six days a week in Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Cupertino.
"I wish we had racquetball courts in Los Altos," he said.
Rancho does have tennis courts at McKenzie and Rosita parks. The 5-acre Rosita Park also features baseball and soccer fields, a playground and a jogging track.
Ultimately, Rancho has enough to keep some residents around for the long haul.
"It's quiet. It's not pretentious," Jacobsen said of his neighborhood.
"It's a nice neighborhood with nice people," Helvey said.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): Children's House of Los Altos, 770 Berry Ave.; Los Altos Christian Preschool, 625 Magdalena Ave.; Los Altos Parent Preschool, 201 Covington Road; Los Altos United Methodist Children's Center Preschool, 655 Magdalena Ave.
FIRE STATION: No. 16, 765 Fremont Ave.
LIBRARY: Los Altos, 13 S. San Antonio Road; Woodland Branch Library, 1975 Grant Road
LOCATION: bordered by Foothill Expressway, Parma Way, Riverside Drive and Springer Road
PARKS: Rosita Park, 401 Rosita Ave.; McKenzie Park, 707 Fremont Ave.
POST OFFICE: Loyola Corners, 1525 Miramonte Ave.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS (nearby): Pinewood School, 327, 477 & 26800 Fremont Ave.; Los Altos Christian School, 625 Magdalena Ave.; Canterbury Christian School, 101 N. El Monte Ave.; Saint Francis Catholic High School, 1885 Miramonte Ave., Mtn. View
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Los Altos School District -- Loyola or Springer elementary schools, Blach Intermediate School; Mtn. View-Los Altos Union High School District -- Los Altos or Mountain View High School
SHOPPING: Rancho Shopping Center, Loyola Corners, Downtown Los Altos