Amy Lee and her husband moved to Midtown while she was pregnant with their first daughter in the summer of 2012. A friend had prompted her to consider moving from Redwood City to Palo Alto because of the city's reputable schools.
Lee found a home to rent on a frontage road near Oregon Expressway with only seven homes on it (she asked that the exact street not be named). Their baby, who is now in first grade at El Carmelo School, was born just months after the couple moved into the neighborhood.
One of the things she discovered early about Midtown was its convenient location.
"I pretty much knew that I could walk pretty much everywhere," she said.
The parks are another perk of the neighborhood.
"The parks are so beautiful," she said.
The family often spends time at nearby Hoover and Bowden parks, a contrast to her childhood neighborhood in Orange County, where there was only one "big giant park" to which her mother had to drive her.
Midtown, named because it is roughly in the middle of Palo Alto, sits between Oregon Expressway and Loma Verde Avenue, and West Bayshore Road and Alma Street. With about 5,000 families living in a mix of homes from Eichler to Craftsman style, the neighborhood has its own shopping district, including a grocery store.
"I feel like all of our neighbors are neighborly," Lee said, often comparing notes on things like smelling a skunk in their yards, or how family members are doing after catching the flu.
Unlike Lee, Webster Street resident LeAnn Baum found Midtown accidentally when she and her husband moved from San Francisco.
"While we love Midtown, we didn't choose our house because it's in Midtown. It was luck," said Baum, who has two children, 5 and 6 years old.
"We love the low-key atmosphere of Midtown as compared to the busier downtown area of Palo Alto. We appreciate being off the beaten path," she said. "Midtown has a nice balance of nice parks, shops, restaurants and other amenities."
Back in the late 1960s, Annette Glanckopf had a story similar to Baum's. She was working at IBM in Palo Alto and living in San Francisco. She began to think her commute was a bit too long so she decided to rent a house on Ramona Street in Midtown. In 1972, when all of her friends started buying homes, she started looking too and settled on a fixer upper she said was originally a commune on Bryant Street.
After she had the floors fixed and broken windows replaced, she moved in and eventually married.
"I'd fallen in love with the bones," she said of her home. She's seen a lot of change over the last 46 years with more than half of the homes on her block torn torn and rebuilt.
She loved the easy walk to the train when she commuted to work, and still loves the proximity to the grocery store and is excited about Mike's Cafe reopening in her neighborhood.
Elizabeth Lorenz is the Home and Real Estate Editor at the Weekly. She can be emailed at [email protected]
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: Greer Stone, [email protected]; midtownresidents.org
PARKS: Bowden Park, 2380 High St.; Greer Park, 1098 Amarillo Ave.; Hoover Park, 2901 Cowper St.; Seale Park, 3100 Stockton Place
POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.; Main, 2085 East Bayshore Road
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Keys School, 2890 Middlefield Road; HeadsUp! Emerson School, 2800 W. Bayshore Road; The Girls' Middle School, 3400 West Bayshore Road
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: El Carmelo, Fairmeadow, Hoover, Ohlone and Palo Verde elementary schools; Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School; Gunn and Palo Alto high schools
SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue; also Middlefield Road at Loma Verde Avenue