Diversity, innovation, wealth and location. These words describe what people love about the Silicon Valley, and there might not be a place that better embodies the area's spirit than the neighborhood of Old Palo Alto.
Although it is not actually the oldest neighborhood in the city, Old Palo Alto is well-known for its affluent residents and diverse architectural styles. For instance, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs made his home in the heart of the neighborhood on Waverley Street.
In an earlier time, the descendants of Proctor and Gamble co-founders built the first house south of Embarcadero Road. Their daughter Elizabeth Gamble, who created renowned gardens, ultimately willed the estate to the City of Palo Alto. In 1985, the City Council opted to lease the estate, creating a community garden and park that remains a cornerstone of the neighborhood.
Roger Smith and his wife, Judy, moved to Old Palo Alto about 25 years ago. Roger said they were initially attracted to the location and feel of the neighborhood.
"The thing we like so much is it's so close to everything," Smith said. "You can walk over to jump on the train, you can walk to California Avenue to the farmers market if you want, and then downtown's not very far either. The access is pretty good because you can get on Alma (Street) and go anywhere."
Old Palo Alto is bordered by Alma Street, Embarcadero Road, Middlefield Road and Oregon Expressway. Two parks are on opposite corners of the neighborhood, with Gamble Garden located on Embarcadero and Waverley Street, and Bowden Park located on Alma and North California Avenue.
Matthew Nguyen, a recent graduate of University of California, San Diego, spent his childhood growing up on Kellogg Avenue near the only school within Old Palo Alto's borders, Castilleja School.
Nguyen said that his favorite memory of the neighborhood was attending Addison Elementary School, where he said he made many friends close by. Nguyen and his family regularly had neighboring families over for dinner or games, such as badminton.
Smith said that in his time living in Old Palo Alto, the look of the neighborhood has changed as more neighbors undergo construction projects.
"I think it was more quaint back (when I moved in), but things have changed," Smith said. "With the number of houses being knocked down and big houses being built, one thing is the noise is more because of all the construction that's going on."
Smith said that because he and his wife are retired, they are more likely to hear the construction going on around them. But, he said he finds it hard to come up with any qualms about the neighborhood past that. Even amidst the various construction projects, Smith said the reason why there is such varied architecture is because there is a great diversity of people.
"When we have a block party ... the unique people in the neighborhood are really something," Smith said. "There's all kinds of different folks."
When asked if he would live anywhere else in the city, Smith chuckled and shrugged.
"We really like it (here)," Smith said. "The thing about Palo Alto is that there's so many nice areas. But here, the streets are wide compared to some areas and it's close to everything ... not to mention the beautiful trees all around."
-- John Brunett
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): Addison Kids' Club, 650 Addison Ave.; Neighborhood Infant-Toddler Center, 311 N. California Ave.; Walter Hays Kids' Club, 1525 Middlefield Road
FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road
LIBRARY: Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Road
LOCATION: between Embarcadero Road and Oregon Expressway, Alma Street and Middlefield Road
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Old Palo Alto Neighborhood Association (OPANA), Nadia Naik, firstname.lastname@example.org
PARKS: Bowden Park, Alma Street and California Avenue; Bowling Green Park, 474 Embarcadero Road; Kellogg Park, next to Bowling Green Park
POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.
PRIVATE SCHOOL: Castilleja School, 1310 Bryant St.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison or Walter Hays elementary schools, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
SHOPPING: Town & Country Village; Midtown; California Avenue
MEDIAN 2014 HOME PRICE: $3,312,500 ($1,568,000-$19,880,000)
HOMES SOLD: 30
MEDIAN 2014 CONDO PRICE: $1,350,000
CONDOS SOLD: 1