Palo Alto Weekly 25th Anniversary

The 900 block of Ramona Street

With the sounds of pounding hammers echoing down the street, the 900 block of Ramona Street is literally a neighborhood in transition. Four brand-new homes bulge on their lots on Ramona, while construction continues a block away on the largest Palo Alto housing development in years -- the SummerHill homes, apartments and condominiums.

Located in the University South neighborhood, this stretch of Ramona lies on the fringe of the downtown business district, abutting historic residential Professorville. According to Alphonso Douglas McLendon, a 93-year-old African American man who's been a resident for five decades, the area was once known as the "Palo Alto slums." Today homes command upward of $3 million.

But all is not shiny and new. In fact, the neighborhood could be described as a patchwork quilt of new homes, long-time residences and rentals with perpetually changing tenants. Three decades ago, the block consisted mostly of homes for rent, a haven for students and lower-income residents.

Some rental properties still exist, century-old Queen Anne- style structures divided up into two- and three-apartment complexes. Next door to them, residents who bought their houses decades ago for $50,000 tend to their zinnias and sit on their porches in the evening.

The neighborhood's proximity to downtown has been a real draw for residents, but has brought with it problems, such as parking and traffic. The SummerHill development is bound to bring more changes, adding hundreds of residents. Not everyone on the block knows everyone else; a number of the residents, their neighbors say, keep to themselves.

But people on the block have high hopes that, with the end of construction, they will have peace again. And with peace might come the stability needed, they say, to bring the neighborhood closer together.


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25th Anniversary • 1979-2004




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