by Kathy Cordova
Crescent Park is renowned for elegant homes on spacious, verdant lots and wide streets that are canopied by grand trees. The neighborhood has the feeling of a small town, with the advantage of being located next to Palo Alto's bustling downtown with its many restaurants, shops and businesses. It's no wonder that residents like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young have chosen to make Crescent Park their home.
Anne Butler, who moved from New York City with her family in July, liked the East-Coast feel of the neighborhood and the charm of the old houses.
"We looked at Menlo Park, Atherton and Los Altos, but we chose Crescent Park because it was the most quintessential Norman Rockwell neighborhood," Butler said. But the biggest draw was the accessibility to schools and activities for her children.
Butler and her husband, Bill, have four children and a fifth on the way. "Being pregnant, I knew for sure that I needed my kids to be able to ride their bikes or walk to school. The kids here seem to have more flexibility and freedom than most places. What I love most is that my kids organize their own playdates, and we always have kids in the kitchen. It's very different from New York where everything was so structured and almost everyone had full-time nannies," Butler said.
Harriet Berner, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, was also attracted to the neighborhood for the same reasons as Butler. "It is a great neighborhood to raise children. My kids played in the street and walked to school and rode their bikes to the Children's Library. They loved it," Berner said.
The idyllic family-oriented nature of the neighborhood can be seen on a typical Sunday stroll through Eleanor Pardee Park, where two boys play a game of catch, toddlers dig in the sandbox and a dad tosses a Frisbee with his children. The park, which at 9.6 acres is the second largest neighborhood park in Palo Alto, includes two children's playgrounds, a picnic area with barbecues, paths for walking or jogging and community vegetable gardens.
Janet Seaman, who has lived in Crescent Park since 1980, frequently walks her dog, Bella, in the park. Seaman and her husband came to the area when he attended Stanford and decided to stay.
"Once you live here, you can't go back. It's a beautiful area with lots of amenities and the trees are to die for," she said.
Seaman also appreciates the great schools nearby. "Our kids went to Walter Hays, Duveneck, Jordan and Paly. Now my daughter teaches at Duveneck and my grandkids get to go there," she said.
The broad appeal of the neighborhood has created some changes that long-term residents do not so much appreciate, including lots of ongoing construction and an increase in surrounding traffic. But, even with these changes, Crescent Park has managed to retain its unique character with a mix of architectural styles, including many traditional homes that have been remodeled on the inside while preserving their exteriors.
The friendliness and sense of community has also been preserved.
"We live in a cul-de-sac and everybody knows everybody," Seaman said. "It's a wonderful neighborhood where everybody watches out for one another."
FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road
LIBRARY: Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Road
LOCATION: bounded by San Francisquito Creek, Newell Road, Channing Avenue and Middlefield Road
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Norman Beamer, president, 650-327-7071
PARKS: Eleanor Pardee Park, 851 Center Drive; Hopkins Creekside Park along Palo Alto Avenue
POST OFFICES: Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave.; Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: St. Elizabeth Seton School, 1095 Channing Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Duveneck Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
SHOPPING (nearby): The Willows Market, 60 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park; University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto; Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center