Though it sits right next to Stanford University, College Terrace's name actually comes from its 12 streets, whose namesakes are well-known higher-ed institutions in the eastern United States. In fact, the neighborhood predates Stanford by several years.
"College Terrace has historically been quite separate from Stanford," resident Maya Homan said. "The reason it exists at all as a residential neighborhood is because the original owners refused to sell to Stanford when the school was first constructed."
Homan, a 2018 graduate of Palo Alto High School, has lived with her family in College Terrace since she started kindergarten at Escondido Elementary School in 2005. She attributes her neighborhood pride to friendly neighbors and a year-round wealth of activities.
"We have a lot of neighborhood events, including block parties, neighborhood scavenger hunts and Oscars parties," Homan said. "We've all gotten to know each other really well, and a lot of my neighbors feel like extended family members."
Fernando Cabildo, vice president of the College Terrace Residents' Association, said the neighborhood's crown jewel is its people, who he describes as a wide variety of individuals "from nannies to Google billionaires."
"There is just such diversity in the neighborhood," Cabildo said. "Being right next to Stanford, we have students but we also have people who have lived here for 60, 70, 80 years."
Cabildo, who grew up in Sunnyvale, has appreciated the distinct neighborhood feel of College Terrace for years. For him and his partner, the house they bought on California Avenue in 2016 was a dream come true.
"If you ask people where College Terrace is, they can tell you," Cabildo said. "You really know when you're in College Terrace. I love that it's a self-contained entity."
The long rectangular area bounded by El Camino Real, Amherst Street, Stanford Avenue and California Avenue stands out on a map -- the 12-block-long, two-block-wide parcel is a "peninsula" of non-Stanford land and has been since 1887, when it was bought up by farmer and landowner Alexander Gordon. The neighborhood has long been home to Stanford students, staff and affiliates. However, residents have seen College Terrace's student population dwindle in recent years as foreign investment money has trickled into the neighborhood.
Eileen Stolee, a resident since 1974, noted that it wasn't uncommon for "entire households" of students to live together in College Terrace during the '70s and '80s. In the past decade, she has seen a sharp rise in the "home-flipping" phenomenon on her street most recently exemplified by a new single-family home built on a neighboring property that took four years to complete and is currently vacant. The home is owned by a foreign investor who Stolee doesn't think visited the property before purchasing it.
"In College Terrace, the biggest fear is big houses getting flipped," Stolee said. "They (new buyers) are not like the starving students who lived here in the '70s."
The demand for College Terrace homes is high, but Stolee would rather have new neighbors than empty, albeit nice-looking new houses. She has come to terms with Stanford's expansion into the neighborhood, where the university already allegedly owns around 30 properties.
"I see Stanford slowly buying up more houses, and I understand that," Stolee said. "We're the perfect neighborhood for them. Professors want to ride their bikes to work. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so."
Stolee loves her neighborhood and doesn't plan on moving anytime soon. In fact, she and her husband are constructing a small separate dwelling unit on their property to move into at the end of the year. Stolee's daughter currently lives in the main dwelling with her husband and young daughter. The home, a Victorian built in 1893, is one of the neighborhood's oldest.
"It's very beautiful; it's quiet," Stolee said. "And you can walk everywhere. That's really important."
Cabildo expressed a similar sentiment -- College Terrace is a comfortable and engaging place to live. One thing he worries about is that without more affordable housing, Palo Alto is due to become a community that excludes all except the extremely wealthy.
Affordable housing, Cabildo said, "infuses more diversity into our neighborhood." He applauds the recently completed Mayfield housing development, which offers below-market rental rates just outside of College Terrace.
"What I'd like to see is ... making room for the folks in our community who help it survive," he said.
Joshua Code is an intern at the Palo Alto Weekly. He can be emailed at [email protected]
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: College Terrace Children's Center, 2300 Wellesley St.; Bing Nursery School, 850 Escondido Road; Escondido Kids' Club, 890 Escondido Road
FIRE STATION: No. 2, 2675 Hanover St., and No. 6, 711 Serra St. on the Stanford campus
LIBRARY: College Terrace, 2300 Wellesley St.
LOCATION: Bounded by Stanford Avenue, El Camino Real, California Avenue and Amherst Street
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: James Cook, president, College Terrace Residents' Association, [email protected], collegeterrace.tumblr.com/, ctra.org
PARKS: Cameron Park, 2101 Wellesley St.; Mayfield Park, 2300 Wellesley St.; Weisshaar Park, 2298 Dartmouth St.; Werry Park, 2100 Dartmouth St.
POST OFFICE: Cambridge branch, 265 Cambridge Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Escondido Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
==B SHOPPING: California Avenue