Santa Clara County History

History of Santa Clara County


Palo Alto and Leland Stanford Jr. University--The Rapid Growth of One of the Progressive Towns of Santa Clara County--The Location and Uses
of a Great Educational Institution.

Palo Alto, nineteen miles northwest of San Jose, is a city of homes. It has that air of solid, substantial, quiet comfort which is the ideal atmosphere of the home-loving. At the same time it is enlivened by the presence of a great university. Its beautiful lawns and trees, its gardens of flowers, fruits and vegetables, its clean, shady streets, are elements that contribute generously to the delight and satisfaction of the citizens. Within driving distance of Palo Alto are many points of particular interest, which are reached by roads through valley or over mountains and foothills. To these advantages are added others: an even and comfortable climate, enabling one to live out of doors practically the year through; educational opportunities that are not excelled anywhere; nearness to San Francisco (only one hour's ride); a variety of religious, civic and social relationships.

Palo Alto is located on the Peninsula, twenty-eight miles from San Francisco, on the northern part of the famed Santa Clara Valley. The southern arm of the Bay of San Francisco is two miles to the east, and on the west, twenty miles distant, is the Pacific Ocean, with the Santa Cruz Mountains rising in forested beauty between and protecting the valley from ocean fogs.

The average summer temperature is seventy degrees; that of the winter is fifty-five degrees. The nearness to the ocean prevents extremes of cold in the winter and of heat in the summer. The skies are habitually sunny and bright all months of the year; there are not many days when the sun is hidden longer than a few hours at a time. The average rainfall is 19.5 inches. The city of Palo Alto owes its existence to Stanford University. With the opening of University Avenue from the quadrangle to the Southern Pacific Railway, it was recognized that here was the location for the college city. The first house was built in 1891, the year the university opened for instruction.

From the beginning Palo Alto has grown steadily. Its municipal policies have always been progressive and its affairs have been conservatively administered in a most thorough-going, businesslike fashion. As a result a beautiful city has been built, and all that is good in a modern municipality is here. The businesslike methods of administration are shown by the low tax rate and the low cost of public-service products. Palo Alto was incorporated in 1894 and soon installed a municipal water system, a municipal power plant, and a complete sanitary sewer system. These enterprises have been conducted with marked success and for some years gave a large net income. Then the policy was adopted of furnishing water, light and power at cost, which has resulted in the lowest rates charged by any city in the bay region. The bonds issued for these enterprises are cared for from the gross income and require no tax upon property. The actual bonded indebtedness of the city (aside from the self-sustaining bonds) is only one per cent of the assessed valuation, and the tax rate is exceptionally low. The city has acquired a municipal garbage destructor and now owns a municipal gas system.

The city government is based upon a special charter granted by the state legislature. The power is centralized in the hands of a council of fifteen members holding office for six years, five retiring every two years. They are the only elective officers, thus insuring a short ballot. This council appoints a board of works, a board of safety, and a library board, also such administrative officers as city clerk, auditor, treasurer, police judge, attorney, and tax collector. The board of public works selects a city engineer, who, because of the wide extent of his jurisdiction, is virtually a city business manager. The board of public safety appoints the chief of police and the health officer. In the charter are provisions for the initiative, referendum and recall.

The fire department is provided with an auto fire and chemical engine of the latest design. Besides the principal fire houses at the city hall, there are four outlying stations, each furnished with fire-fighting apparatus and manned by volunteer companies. The Gamewell fire alarm system covers the entire municipal territory. The insurance companies recognize the efficiency of this department by establishing low rates.

A modern health department is conducted by a full-time health officer holding a university degree in public health. The department has a well equipped laboratory for diagnosis, and analysis of milk, water and foods. Dairy cows are tuberculin-tested, and the milk supply is exceptionally clean and wholesome. The death rate has steadily declined, in 1918 reaching the very low rate of 6.3 per 1,000 of population.

A large part, about seventy per cent, of the streets of the city are well paved, and sidewalks are provided on all the streets. All sewer and water pipes are laid in advance of street work, so that streets are not torn up after paving is done. A model system of street lighting serves the entire city. The spaces along the sidewalks are parked, and along the front of the city the railway is bordered for a mile with a mass of blossoms. Nooks that form natural parks exist along San Francisquito Creek, which half encircles the city, and a beautiful strip of twenty-five acres between Palo Alto and Stanford campus is leased by the city.

At least two important manufacturing concerns have already recognized the town's signal advantages, and at present the Boden Automatic Hammer Company is operating a successful plant in the Stanford Irrigating Tract, one of the suburbs of Palo Alto; and the Federal Wireless Telegraph Company has erected a large building on the strip of land between Palo Alto and the State Highway to house the growing business of its manufacturing enterprise, which has been in operation for several years. The famous Palo Alto Stock Farm has been reopened on Stanford land adjoining the university, for the rearing of thoroughbred cattle instead of horses.

Soon after the United States declared war against Germany, Palo Alto was selected as one of the training camps for the national army. After the war the camp was abandoned and in 1920 the land was cut up into lots and offered for sale. From Palo Alto southward extends that wonderful fruit belt of California known as the Santa Clara Valley. In this territory are raised one-half of all the prunes produced in the United States; no other county in the United States raises so many cherries or so many apricots. Besides these leaders are produced grapes, peaches, pears, apples, plums, olives and berries on a commercial basis. From this splendid source the resident of Palo Alto has, at producers' prices, the best that California grows. All along the peninsula from San Francisco southward, are great vegetable gardens that are worked summer and winter. Thus vegetables are plentiful and fresh, and their cost is low.

Palo Alto is on the Coast line of the Southern Pacific railway, fifty to sixty minutes from San Francisco, and has over twenty trains each way daily. There are at the present time about two hundred commuters, who do business in San Francisco and with their families make their homes in Palo Alto. The town is also the terminus of the Peninsular interurban electric line, with its main line to San Jose and branch lines to Stanford University, Saratoga and Los Gatos, by way of Los Altos.

Inside the present city limits there are 7,000 people; the immediately contiguous suburban centers of Stanford campus, North Palo Alto, Ravenswood and Stanford Acres have not less than 3,000 more; the country tributary to Palo Alto, north, south and west, will number at least 5,000. Here, then, is the center of a population of 15,000 people. The population may be divided into two general classes--those who are permanently or temporarily located at Palo Alto, to enjoy its educational and climatic advantages, and those who are permanently engaged in business or agricultural enterprises. In this latter class are a great many whose business or professional interests are in San Francisco, but whose homes are in Palo Alto.

The State Highway has brought about automobile transportation both for freight and passengers, operating between Palo Alto and San Jose and San Francisco a regular hourly schedule.

The land between Palo Alto and the Bay of San Francisco has great advantages for the raising of strawberries, celery and garden seeds. Strawberries ripen from April to December and the yield is from $600 to $1,000 per acre. Celery is shipped in carloads. Palo Alto celery and Palo Alto strawberries have a special rating for quality in the San Francisco market reports. There are immense possibilities for developing market gardens in the vicinity of Palo Alto, as it is one of the rare spots in the world where the best grades of yegetabie and flower seeds can be grown. The production of onion seed is one of the most profitable industries; sweet peas, radishes, celery and other seeds are grown near the city. Farming and dairying are successfully carried on. Much fertile land is already in orchards, averaging about ten acres to a family. Poultry raising is often combined with the fruit industry.

The public school system of Palo Alto is one of the chief interests of the people, with the result that the schools are among the best in the state. The city has forty-nine in its teaching force, twenty-two of whom are employed in the high school. Five teachers serve as supervisors in drawing, music, manual training, domestic science and penmanship. There is a magnificent series of new buildings, costing $250,000, for the Palo Alto Union High School District, which includes Stanford and Mayfield. The high school, located as it is, adjacent to Stanford, emphasizes preparation for the university. In addition to this, however, provision is made for vocational subjects, such as commercial studies and the manual and household arts. Four years of instruction are afforded in the fine arts, giving four complete university credits. The courses in languages, history, English, mathematics and science are thorough and complete.

The high school is fully accredited by all the universities and normal schools on the coast, and also by such Middle West and Eastern institutions as the University of Michigan and Smith College. The activities fostered by the high school consist of athletics, dramatics, debating, and the school paper--The Madrono.Palo Alto has a Carnegie library containing over 10,000 volumes, selected by discerning and well-trained librarians. Any person can borrow these books upon practically the same basis as those who live within the city limits.

The saloon and the blind pig have never existed, so that the police department does not occupy a prominent position in the city's administration. In addition to provisions in Palo Alto's city charter, every deed to land contains a clause prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. All leading Christian denominations are represented: Baptist organized 1893, Presbyterian organized 1893, Methodist Episcopal organized 1894. All Saints (Episcopal) organized 1894, Christian organized 1896, St. Thomas Aquinas (Roman Catholic) organized 1900, First Congregational organized 1900, First Church of Christ, Scientist, organized 1900, Unitarian organized 1905. There is an active inter-church federation of the six evangelical churches.

Palo Alto has many clubs and organizations. Among them might be mentioned The Woman's Club of Palo Alto, the oldest of them all, organized in 1894. Another strong organization, whose membership consists of women, is the Civic League. It has been very active in all plans and projects that have had for their object the preparation of women for their new duties as voters and electors. The Peninsula Club is an organization for business and professional men; it owns its own club house and athletic courts. The Faculty Club is a similar institution on the Stanford campus.

Palo Alto maintains a live Chamber of Commerce made up chiefly of business men. There is also a Merchants' Credit Association. Of the fraternal orders the following list will speak for itself: Knights Templar, Royal Arch Masons, Free and Accepted Masons, Order of Eastern Star, Knights of Pythias, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Degree of Rebekah, Foresters of America, Improved Order of Red Men, Degree of Pocahontas, Independent Order of Good Templars, Independent Order of Foresters, Modern Woodmen of America, Fraternal Aid Union, Woodmen of the World, Native Sons of the Golden West, Grand Army of the Republic, Relief Corps, Fraternal Brotherhood, P. E. O., Daughters of the American Revolution, Ladies of the Maccabes. Most of these fraternal orders are housed in the Masonic Temple, a massive structure of artistic design, representing an outlay of $50,000.

Palo Alto is the center of a group of colleges and schools other than the Stanford University. The chief of this group is St. Patrick's Seminary, an institution of collegiate rank, whose object is to prepare for the Catholic ministry. This institution represents an outlay of $1,000,000 or more. It is situated on a 100-acre site almost continguous to Palo Alto's northern boundary, the tree-lined San Francisquito Creek. Its noble old oaks, great palms, rose gardens, green lawns and winding ways, furnish a never-ending source of inspiration to its students. This seminary is the leading Catholic institution of its kind on the Pacific Coast. There are five buildings of the Renaissance style of architecture.

A short distance from Palo Alto to the northwest, is the Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic preparatory school for young ladies. This is one of the best known in California. There are more than twenty teaching sisters on its faculty list. Like the other educational institution of the region, it has a most pleasing site among the great green oaks.

Palo Alto has three large private schools, each representing investments from $40,000 to $100,000. Two are girls' schools and one is for boys. All the girls' schools are accredited by universities and colleges. All these schools are provided with fine playground facilities.

Long ago Palo Alto outgrew its original city boundary lines, so that now there is a North Palo Alto, South Palo Alto, a Stanford Acres, a Stanford Park, and from the eastern line to San Francisco Bay lies the territory of Runnymede. These suburbs are each growing surely and steadily under the foster care of the mother town.

South Palo Alto is a beautiful home spot. The echo of the woodman's axe has never resounded among the live-oaks of this green domain. Here they are in groups, or standing alone with gnarled and weathered trunk and huge, wide protecting branches. In common with all of the territory in and around Palo Alto the character of the soil is such that gardening or fruit-raising is a delight. One can get results that make worth while the time and effort spent. There are at present over eighty residences in this tract. A region of small farms adjoins South Palo Alto. Water distributed under pressure for irrigation and domestic use, is piped to each tract. The roads and streets are macadamized, shade trees are set out on either side of the roads and there is electricity for lighting purposes. The soil is rich and capable of great production, drainage is good and there are building restrictions requiring substantial residences to be built. There are several fine homes built and being built on these tracts. Acreage here ranges from $500 to $1,000 an acre.

One of the most interesting economic experiments in intensive agriculture in the country is now being carried out successfully on the northern boundary of Palo Alto. This is the Charles Weeks poultry colony called Runnymede. A large tract of fertile, alluvial bay share land has been subdivided into acre tracts and on these colonists have settled chiefly for the raising of poultry under a system worked out as the result of fourteen years' experience by Mr. Weeks. With fertile land, artesian water, fine climate, good markets and nearness to all the advantages of high civilization these colonists are working out the problem of making comfortable and enjoyable living as "little landers." With an unlimited market for food products the extension of this colony idea is only limited by the amount of suitable land available for the purpose.

North Palo Alto is a newer suburb than South Palo Alto. It lies ortheast on a tract that is gently sloping, sunny and attractive. It has all the advantages that are necessary to [...sic]

In April, 1922, the contract was awarded for the erection of a U. S. Veterans Hospital for $861,868. There will be eighteen buildings. The cost of the equipment will be $292,400.

Leland Stanford Jr., University

The highly favorable climatic and soil conditions found in a beautiful landscape of green mountains, rolling foothills, oak-bedecked valley and blue and green waters of a world-famed bay, were leading considerations in the minds of Senator Leland Stanford and Mrs. Jane Stanford, his wife, when in the '70s they selected, from all of California's magnificent domain, 8000 acres to serve as their home estate. This great farm they named Palo Alto (Spanish for "tall tree") from a huge redwood tree standing on one corner of the estate. The 8,000 tree-dotted acres of this Stanford farm include land partly level, the rest rising into foothills of the Santa Cruz Range. Immediately on its northeastern border is Palo Alto and just to the east of Palo Alto lies San Francisco Bay with its miles of undeveloped water front. Across the Bay towers the Mt. Diablo Range and Mt. Hamilton, the latter rising to a height of 4400 feet and crowned by the Lick Observatory. Here was opened in 1891 the university founded in the memory of Leland Stanford, Jr. "The children of California shall be my children," said Senator Stanford.

As preliminary to the definite planning of buildings and grounds the Stanfords traveled the world over to obtain ideas and inspirations. As a result, there has been produced at Palo Alto in California, a group of university buildings and a campus equal to the loveliest and best the world can show. Mr. McMillan, of McMillan's Magazine, London, uses this expression: "Stanford University, the finest group of buildings in the world."

Located on a campus that is co-extensive with the original 8,000-acre farm, the buildings are compactly grouped in a quadrangle form. From the group wind macadam avenues, streets and drives. Palo Alto, the arboretum, and the farm lands, while paths ramble into the ever-beckoning, rolling hills. In general effect the immediate setting is semi-tropical; red-tiled roofs, buff-colored sandstone walls, long arcades and colonnades, Romanesque pillar--supported arches, waving palms, mammoth evergreen oaks, tall eucalyptus, bamboos, palms, green-swarded courts, and lawns and flowers everywhere.

The central group of buildings, consisting of two quadrangles, the one completely surrounding the other, is an adaptation of mission architecture and reproduces on an imposing scale the open arches, long colonnades and red-tiled roofing of the old Spanish Missions of California.

The inner quadrangle consists of twelve one-story buildings and the Memorial Church, connected by a continuous open arcade and surrounding a court 586 feet long and 246 feet wide, or 3 1/4 acres.

The fourteen two-story buildings of the outer quadrangle are of the same general style as the inner quadrangle, with arcades on the outside. The extreme length of the outer quadrangle is 894 feet. The main entrance through the outer quadrangle is through the Memorial Court. Leading to Palo Alto, in the opposite direction is University Avenue. This broad, palm-lined thoroughfare passes through one of the world's most famous arboretums, comprising about 600 acres and containing many thousand varieties of trees and shrubs, among them many rare specimens.

The Leland Stanford Jr. Museum contains the archaeological and art collections of the university. The chemistry building, located north of the quadrangle, consists of two separate structures, the main building and the assaying laboratory. South of the quadrangles are the workshops of the engineering departments, experimental laboratories and power

The boys' dormitory, Encina Hall, is located east of the quadrangles and accommodates 300. The girls' dormitory, Roble Hall, is west of the quadrangles and has accommodations for 100. This is to be used in the future as a boys' dormitory also, a larger dormitory for women having been built near the lake. Between Encina Hall and the main quadrangle, an art gallery and the magnificent new library building have just been completed.

The men's gymnasium is a new structure of brick, with an open-air swimming pool, just opposite the football bleachers and athletic fields. The athletic fields are as complete and certainly as beautiful as those of any college in the world. They include three football fields, three baseball diamonds, a quarter-mile cinder path, and a great number of tennis courts. Lagunita affords opportunity for boating and swimming.

Along the edge of the near foothills, just beyond the outer quadrangle to the southeast, are the homes of the college community. It is a little city by itself, with attractive streets and comfortable houses, encompassed by luxuriant sees, shrubs, flowers, and lawns. Alvarado Row, facing Encina Hall, Salvatierra Street, with its leafy protection of over-spreading elms, and Lasuen Street, known as Fraternity Row, are the principal streets. In addition to these main thoroughfares, there are several short streets that lead up into the foothills, where attractive homes have been built on sightly knolls.

The Leland Stanford Jr. University is unlike oher great universities of the world in many other ways than its architectural and campus features. With an endowment estimated at about $30,000,000, not forced to depend upon any political system nor upon tuition fees of students for its supporting funds, the trustees and faculty are peculiarly free to establish and maintain high standards of scholarship and conduct among its students.

The university is thoroughly non-sectarian in its religious influence. Yet the spiritual and moral welfare of its students is made the object of a regularly organized department. The world-famed Memorial Church is the central and most beautiful building of the group. It is equipped with one of the best pipe organs in America. The Hopkins Marine Station is located at Pacific Grove. A new site of nearly five acres, at Almeja Point, was secured in 1916. A concrete building specially planned for the uses of the Marine Station was erected in 1917.

The Stanford Union is a club house for men, first projected by Herbert C. Hoover of the class of 1895, and built by contributions from students, alumni, faculty, trustees, and friends of the university. The Union was opened in February, 1915, and is in charge of a board of trustees made up of two faculty members, three alumni, and two undergraduates. The Women's Club House provides a social center for the women of the university, and is similar in plan and construction to that of the Union. The club house was opened in February, 1915. The University Inn is a frame building, operated as a cafeteria primarily for students living on the campus.

The Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery, the first building of the second quadrangle group, was completed in 1917. This building, which sets the architectural style for the new quadrangle, has the same arched arcades as the original quadrangle, but the arched entrances, of which there are three, are higher and more elaborate in detail.

The Library Building, the central unit in the second quadrangle group, was completed in 1919. The ground floor provides a reading room for books set apart for collateral reading, a department of public documents, and administrative work rooms. On the main floor are the delivery hall, the large reference and reading rooms, a browsing room, a periodical room, the card catalogue, and the administrative rooms; on the mezzanine and top floors, a large study room, and smaller rooms of varying sizes for seminary and special research work.

The main buildings of the Medical Department in San Francisco occupy four fifty-vara lots bounded by Clay, Sacramento, and Webster streets. The Clinical and Laboratory Building, including Lane Hall and Lane Hospital, is a modern building in brick and stone, with a capacity of one hundred and eighty beds. The Lane Medical Library is situated on the corner of Sacramento and Webster streets, opposite the Clinical and Laboratory Building. The library is a fireproof structure of Colusa sandstone, three and a half stories high, with steel stacks accommodatings 60,000 volumes. The Stanford University Hospital, completed in 1917, is a concrete structure with a capacity of one hundred and thirty beds.

The use of alcoholic liquors is absolutely prohibited in all student lodging-houses whether on the campus or elsewhere. The health department enforces stringent regulations as regards the sanitary arrangements in all places where students live. Hospital service for a nominal fee is available for those who may need such service.

There were 2135 students and 310 members of the faculty at Stanford, according to the 1920 registration. Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur is the president and there are over 300 members of the faculty and instructors.

In 1921 a stadium capable of seating 65,000 people was built.

Source: Sawyers, Eugene T. History of Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, Calif; Historic Record Company, 1922.

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