Midtown | News | Palo Alto Online |

Real Estate



Midtown Palo Alto is a place where people come to stay.

Paulmer Soderberg has lived in his house on Vernon Terrace since 1991, when he bought the house with his wife the same month they got married.

"It was just dumb luck that we moved to Palo Alto," he said. "In hindsight, it was a pretty nice decision."

The two started a family there, raising their two sons. Soderberg said with so many families living on the street, his children are what got him and his wife to know their neighbors. The result is a close-knit, comfortable neighborhood community.

"We take care of (other) kids every once in awhile, or the kids kind of just walk out the door and say, 'I'm going to go down to Jack's,' and that kind of stuff," he said.

Vernon Terrace residents also go all out for Halloween, with everyone on the horseshoe-shaped street participating. The Soderbergs do a haunted house; another neighbor replicates Area 51.

Soderberg said when he first moved to Palo Alto, "Everyone else thought North Palo Alto was the place to be," but he and his wife preferred Midtown.

"... I really like Midtown because it seems more family-oriented. It's a more cozy, quaint neighborhood."

Soderberg said he also appreciates being close to so many amenities and facilities. His sons, in particular, love the Midtown location of Sancho's Taqueria on Middlefield Road and Subway, also on Middlefield. Soderberg said he thinks Piazza's Fine Food in the Charleston Shopping Center is great.

Another Midtown resident, Dan Melick, who has lived in the same Colorado Avenue house since 1976, said he also likes the convenience of Midtown.

"We like this area because it's friendly, it's very close to the Midtown shopping area," he said. "That's really nice. We have our bank there; we have Safeway there; you have two pharmacies (and) a shoemaker there that's been there forever."

He's also within walking distance of Caltrain.

However, Melick remembers when there used to be far more amenities in the neighborhood.

"We've seen gas stations disappear; there used to be several in Midtown. Now there's none," he said.

He remembers a bank that's now a Starbucks, a grocery store that's now a pharmacy and an auto parts store that's now gone.

Melick is also part of a strong emergency preparedness presence in Midtown. He's a member of the neighborhood's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is in place in case first responders such as police and firefighters can't handle all emergencies after a natural disaster or hazard. Melick is one of many CERT volunteers in Midtown who are trained in basic disaster-response skill such as fire safety, light search-and-rescue and disaster medical operations.

"It's a way of supporting the community," Melick said.

This and many other elements make Midtown a neighborhood where people put down roots.

"We actually did an addition (to the house) because we plan to stay here through retirement," Soderberg said. "There's no reason to leave."

-- Elena Kadvany


CHILD CARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Grace Lutheran Preschool, 3149 Waverley St.; Love'n'Care Christian Preschool, 2490 Middlefield Road; Mini Infant Center of Palo Alto, 3149 Waverley St.; Ohlone Kids' Club (PACCC), 950 Amarillo Ave.; Palo Alto Friends Nursery School, 957 Colorado Ave.

FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road

LOCATION: between Oregon Expressway and Loma Verde Avenue, Alma Street and West Bayshore Road

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Sheri Furman, 650-856-0869, sheri11@earthlink.net, Midtown Residents Association

PARKS: Greer Park, 1098 Amarillo Ave.; Hoover Park, 2901 Cowper St.; Seale Park, 3100 Stockton Place

POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.; Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Keys School, 2890 Middlefield Road; HeadsUp! Emerson School, 2800 W. Bayshore Road; The Girls' Middle School, 3400 W. Bayshore Road

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: El Carmelo, Fairmeadow, Hoover, Ohlone and Palo Verde elementary schools; J. L. Stanford Middle School; Gunn or Palo Alto high schools

SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue; also Middlefield Road at Loma Verde Avenue

MEDIAN 2014 HOME PRICE: $2,350,000 ($1,300,000-$4,800,000)


MEDIAN 2014 CONDO PRICE: $727,500 ($526,000-$1,565,000)


What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


4 people like this
Posted by Saddened
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2015 at 12:09 am

Absolutely devastated by this grim news. Have frequented (and loved) both Village Stationers and Accent Arts for years- cannot imagine not having them on California Avenue. Will have little reason to go to California Avenue after they leave. The place is becoming devoid of any attraction. Only Shuchat & Keeble, Paul's Cobblery and the Country Sun remain. For those who knew the street in better days, when the Bargain Box, Know Knew Books, the Avenue Florist, Draper's Music shop, Printer's Ink Books, Cho's, Monette's Pet Shop and the Fine Arts movie theater were still around, the changes have been ever bleaker. None of the Starbucks and other food places can even begin to make up for the loss of the above-mentioned businesses...

8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2015 at 8:37 am

We need some 30 minutes parking spaces in Midtown. There are some down by Walgreens and it makes a big difference as I can always find parking there. The Safeway lot is often full and there are times when just attempting to park at the ATM is impossible. Perhaps beside it should be 10 minute spots.

The problem is that people are parking and then spending hours in the coffee shops, at least that's my take.

7 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2015 at 10:12 am

The article says that Midtown is easy walking distance to Caltrain. That is less and less true these days. Oregon Expressway separates Midtown from California Ave and the Caltrain station. The recent Oregon Expressway remodel gives more priority to cars and less priority to pedestrians, making crossing the expressway on foot more slow and more difficult. Crosswalks have been removed at some locations and the pedestrian beg buttons at other crosswalks are very slow to respond (up to several minutes before the walk light turns on). We used to be able to walk from our Waverley Street home to the train station in 10 minutes. Now it takes twice as long and we am more likely to drive than deal with the hassle.

1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 27, 2015 at 11:47 am

@parent, I always walk down Colorado towards Caltrain. Cross Oregon Expressway on the sidewalk of Alma overpass, then cut through Bowden Park to the pedestrian undercrossing. In the good old days I'd use El Dorado and just run across the four lanes of Alma to walk along the tracks the final stretch to the station platform. You could buy your train ticket on-board. Ah, the wild west.

Is there a better Midtown article now than this old one from 2011? At least the home prices have been updated.

7 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2015 at 1:46 pm

@musical - Colorado is OK if you live near that street, but if you live closer to Oregon, taking Colorado is several extra blocks of walking. Also, walking next to the speeding cars on Alma is pretty spooky, especially during the evening rush hour (in the dark) and near the ramps to and from Oregon (where cars often run the stop signs and ignore pedestrians in the crosswalks).

11 people like this
Posted by Frustration Town
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2015 at 2:37 pm

I lived in Midtown for several years, then went to live in Europe for a few years before moving back to PA.

What a shock! I had gotten used to nice, smooth, quite roads and safe bike lanes in Europe. Upon my return I see the infrastructure here has gon to pot in spite of the outrageous taxes paid! The school system has gone downhill, too.

The worst deterioration, other than the roads, is the increase in traffic and businesses, but no equivalent increase in parking!

In particular, I have witnessed some ugly arguments by drivers competing for the dearth of spaces in the lot between Walgreen's and CVS. People without placards often park on the handicapped spaces, even in the striped spaces meant for wheelchair lifts! The confrontations continue to heighten and I fear may at some point turn deadly. This area needs a lot more parking NOW!

Another shock has been the lack of safe bike routes. Traffic is very heavy on Middlefield, even at non-rush hour times and on weekends, and the roads too narrow for the load. If someone has not already been seriously injured or killed, they soon will be. Much of Europe keeps cars, bikes, and pedestrians in individual separate lanes, many with curbs or berms for safety. Some streets are for residents only, and no one else may drive or park, or even bike ride on them. Other streets are for pedestrians only-- not even bikes or skateboards are allowed. Midtown could benefit from some of these as well. Not even the sidewalks or crosswalks are safe for pedestrians on Middlefield!

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Los Altos's State of Mind opening NYC-inspired pizza shop in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 8,699 views

Wait, wait – we’re working on it
By Diana Diamond | 20 comments | 2,846 views

Premarital and Couples: Here Be Dragons!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,761 views

Flying: How to lower your impact
By Sherry Listgarten | 6 comments | 1,737 views

Goodbye toy stores
By Cheryl Bac | 12 comments | 1,526 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details