‘Palo Alto , the view from the Birthplace of Silicon Valley’ print.

Palo Alto, California has to be considered among one of this country’s great cities. It is a city that strives for and lives by a standard of excellence. What Palo Alto has become is the result of the contributions of many individuals along with the commitment that Leland Stanford brought to this northern California community in the 19th century. Today, Palo Alto is a world leader influencing global standards of excellence in technology, education, design and beyond.

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Palo Alto a brief history

The city got its name from the tall landmark Redwood tree, El Palo Alto, which still grows on the east bank of San Francisquito Creek across from Menlo Park. One trunk of the twin-trunked tree can still be found by the railroad trestle near Alma Street in El Palo Alto Park (the other trunk was destroyed during a storm in the late 20th century). There a plaque recounts the story of the Portolà expedition, a 63-man, 200-horse expedition from San Diego to Monterey in 1769. The group overshot Monterey in the fog and when they reached modern-day Pacifica, they ascended Sweeney Ridge and discovered San Francisco Bay. Portolà descended from Sweeney Ridge southeast down San Andreas Creek to Laguna Creek (now Crystal Springs Reservoirs and the Filoli estate, and then to the San Francisquito Creek watershed, ultimately camping at El Palo Alto from November 1769. Thinking the bay was too wide to cross, the group retraced their journey back to Monterey, never discovering the Golden Gate entrance to the Bay.

Palo Alto was established by Leland Stanford when he founded Stanford University, following the death of his son, Leland Stanford Jr. The city includes portions of Stanford and is headquarters to a number of high-technology companies, to many Silicon Valley high-technology companies including Hewlett-Packard, VMware, Tesla Motors, PARC, Ning, IDEO and Palantir Technologies. It has served as an incubator to several other high-technology companies such as Apple Inc., Google, Facebook, Logitech, Intuit, Sun Microsystems, Pinterest, and PayPal.

 The Secret History of Silicon Valley

This is entrepreneur Steve Blank presenting the secret history of Silicon Valley in 2008. A fascinating look at the early factors leading to the rise of Silicon Valley. Blank’s Google Tech talk, The Secret History of Silicon Valley, offers a widely regarded insider’s perspective on the emerging Silicon Valley’s start-up innovation.

 Connection to the Bay

Palo Alto is crossed by several creeks that flow north to San Francisco Bay, Adobe Creek on its eastern boundary, San Francisquito Creek on its western boundary, and Matadero Creek in between the other two. Arastradero Creek is tributary to Matadero Creek, and Barron Creek is now diverted to Adobe Creek just south of Highway 101 by a diversion channel. The San Francisquito Creek mainstem is formed by the confluence of Corte Madera Creek and Bear Creek not far below Searsville Dam. Further downstream, Los Trancos Creek is tributary to San Francisquito Creek below Interstate 280.

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San Francisquito Creek. Google Earth

Cycling

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Palo Alto. 9.5% of residents bicycle to work, the highest percentage of any city in the Bay Area, and third-highest in the United States, after Davis, California and Boulder, Colorado. Since 2003, Palo Alto has received a Bicycle Friendly Community status of “Gold” from the League of American Bicyclists. Palo Alto Bicycles is one of the best bike shops in the Bay Area.

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Palo Alto Bicycles

Great film about the investments in money and people that launched Silicon Valley 

Something Ventured is a 2011 documentary film investigating the emergence of American venture capitalism in the mid-20th Century and it’s influence on Silicon Valley. Something Ventured follows the stories of the venture capitalists who worked with entrepreneurs to start and build companies like Apple, Intel, Genentech, Cisco, Atari, Tandem, and others. Something Ventured is a full-length independent film which includes interviews with prominent American venture capitalists and entrepreneurs of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, as well as archival photography and footage. Something Ventured was conceived by Paul Holland of Foundation Capital, who executive produced the film with co-executive producer Molly Davis of Rainmaker Communications. Something Ventured was directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine. Something Ventured’s North American distribution partner is Zeitgeist Films. Here it is presented on Hulu.

To learn more about this amazing city here are a few links to get you started: The City of Palo Alto, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford Linear Accelerator CenterThe Museum of American HeritageHoover Tower, Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professioanl AssociationPalo Alto Historical AssociationPalo Alto Online,

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Downtown Palo Alto 1960

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Historical plaque in front of the HP garage

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Stanford University

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