The Central Menlo Park neighborhood offers a network of wide, tree-lined streets and ranch-style homes in the heart of Menlo Park. The neighborhood's roads are quiet with the exception of a few neighbors chatting with each other and children playing games in the street.
Once a community of ranchers and their families, the neighborhood features original houses as well as a number of recently built ones. Central Menlo Park is now home to a variety of age groups, though resident and real-estate agent Stephanie Savides said the majority of new buyers in the neighborhood are young families who are looking for larger lot sizes and a strong community of neighbors.
A resident since 1996, Ms. Savides said Central Menlo Park residents have many reasons to love their neighborhood. In addition to being near popular locations such as downtown Menlo Park and Stanford University, residents enjoy a neighborhood feel that she said makes it "the best place anyone could possibly live."
Since she first moved to Central Menlo Park with her husband, Ms. Savides has lived in four different houses in the neighborhood. Ms. Savides grew up in Los Altos Hills and is an alum of Gunn High School and Stanford University. Shortly after graduating from Stanford, Ms. Savides and her husband moved to their first home in the neighborhood -- just across the street from popular local hangout, the Dutch Goose -- and raised their children there.
"Choosing to live in Central Menlo Park was the best decision," Ms. Savides said. "I think for most people who live in and know the area, it is their first choice of places to live."
Like many other neighborhoods in the community, Central Menlo Park is a highly educated area and has recently been welcoming residents who are venture capitalists, executives of major companies and owners of high-tech startups. According to Ms. Savides, certain neighbors have strong pride in their alma maters of Stanford and Cal: She recalls a rivalry between the two schools being a big deal on one of the streets where she lived.
"We used to have a big fight on our street over a street pole, the street was sort of half Cal and half Stanford," Ms. Savides said. "The Stanford people would wrap the pole in red and white and then the Cal people would get mad and in the middle of the night they'd go wrap it in blue and gold. It would always go back and forth."
Other neighborhood traditions include block parties and barbecues on some streets. On a daily basis, Ms. Savides said many people walk their dogs or go for a jog together around the neighborhood. They also bike or jog to Stanford or shops in the downtown area.
The neighborhood, equidistant between U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 280, is also well-situated for commuters.
Resident Mark Baker, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly his entire life, said the only major changes he has noticed around the neighborhood are increased traffic and population as well as a few smaller stores that have gone out of business.
Mr. Baker is still very fond of the neighborhood and what it offers its residents.
"The reason I still live here is that even though it is a big city and it has gotten more crowded and busy, this is still a neighborhood where my kids can ride their bikes and play basketball in the street," Mr. Baker said.
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: The Kirk House Preschool, 1148 Johnson St., Menlo Park; Littlest Angels Bethany Preschool, 1095 Cloud Ave., Menlo Park; St. Joseph's Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten, 150 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton; University Heights Montessori Children's Center, 2066 Avy Ave., Menlo Park
FIRE STATION: 700 Oak Grove, Menlo Park
LOCATION: between Valparaiso Avenue and San Francisquito Creek, from Arbor Drive and Johnson Street to Delfino Way, Cloud Avenue and Vine Street
PARKS: Jack W. Lyle Park, Middle Avenue and Fremont Street, Menlo Park; Nealon Park, 800 Middle Ave., Menlo Park; Tinker Park, Santa Cruz Avenue at Elder Avenue, Menlo Park
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Menlo School, 50 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton; Sacred Heart Prep, 150 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton; St. Joseph's School, 50 Emilie Ave., Atherton; St. Raymond's Elementary School, 1211 Arbor Road, Menlo Park
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Menlo Park City School District -- Oak Knoll School, 1895 Oak Knoll Lane, Menlo Park; Hillview Middle School, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park. Sequoia Union High School District -- Menlo-Atherton High School, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton
SHOPPING: Allied Arts Guild, Downtown Menlo Park