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Location of Palo Alto, California

Palo Alto is a city in Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA. Palo Alto is located at the northern end of the Silicon Valley, and is home to Stanford University (which is technically located in an adjacent area — Stanford, California), and to several successful high-technology companies. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 58,598. Palo Alto is home to the headquarters of Hewlett-Packard. It is named for a tree called El Palo Alto.

The northern half of Palo Alto, north of Oregon Expressway, is filled with elegant homes, some of which date back to the 1890s but most of which were built in the first four decades of the 20th century on tree-lined streets. South of Oregon Expressway, in the southern half of Palo Alto, the houses, including many Joseph Eichler-designed or Eichler-style houses, were primarily built in the first 20 years after World War II.

While both halves of the city contain homes that now cost anywhere from $700,000 to well in excess of $1 million, giving the entire city a somewhat-deserved reputation as a wealthy enclave, the fact is that the housing stock of south Palo Alto is rather middle-class in the style of mid-century California suburbia, and would not be so expensive were it not in such a desirable location, close both to Stanford University and the Silicon Valley. Typically, homes in the northern half of the city are even more expensive than those in the southern half. Palo Alto is also generally perceived to have excellent public schools and a high quality of life.

A good description of high-tech life in Palo Alto around 1995 is found in the novel by Douglas Coupland, Microserfs. One visible trend at the time was that of people who lived in San Francisco, but who drove south 30 to 50 miles each weekday in order to work in Silicon Valley.

Palo Alto's sister city in Sweden is Linköping. Its Mexican sister is Oaxaca, Oaxaca.


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Web Sites and Links

City of Palo AltoThe city's official homepage.
Palo Alto Chamber of CommerceSource for business information, including restaurants, lodging, area attractions, visitor and relocation information, and membership benefits.
Palo Alto GreenA community-based renewable energy program in Palo Alto, CA. Available for all Palo Alto residents.
Palo Alto OnlineFocal point for local information and community dialogue on the internet.
Peninsula Biodiesel Co-opA group of individuals dedicated to serving the community by enabling and advocating biodiesel use. News items and a message forum.

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