Posted on November 29th, 2012

Small World – Palo Alto, California

Worlds away…sometimes that is what it seems like when we journey from one sister city to the next in our Small World. The large pre-Colombian archaeological site of Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico is believed to have been established around 500 B.C., and is a crucial element in one of the oldest cities in Mesoamerica. Our journey for this Small World brings us to Palo Alto, California, a city that has its first recorded history starting in the late 1700s A.D. Most commonly known for being home to Stanford University, Palo Alto also is known as a hub of the Tech World as numerous such companies reside there, were started there, or maintain a significant portion of their operations there, such as HP, Google and Facebook.

The university is named after the late son of its founder, Leland Stanford, a man who was both Governor and Senator of California, as well as a businessman involved in the railroad system in the late 1800s. Stanford University is home to the largest number of Turing award winners which is given to those that excel in the field of computer science. It is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Computer Science.” So with the founder’s early involvement in the railroads and its frequent association with scholars in the fields of modern technology, it is no surprise that Palo Alto is home to so much progressive thinking and accomplishment in the Silicon Valley.

The Stanford Research Institute, located in nearby Menlo Park and once formally associated with the university, gave birth to a radio telescope in 1966, known simply as “The Dish.” Funded by the United States Air Force, the 150 foot wide Dish cost roughly $4.5 million to construct, with the intention of being able to study chemical compositions in the atmosphere, but is now used as part of a communication system for satellites and spacecraft. Even though it was built some 55 years ago, it is still actively used. The region surrounding The Dish has been under continual environmental rehabilitation, and is home to a popular hiking trail that serves up to 2,000 people a day in the foothills of Stanford, California, which immediately abuts Palo Alto.

The eye in the sky has to have contact on the ground somehow. The Dish has provided a source of contact for nearly 50 years on the Stanford campus, and provides a destination for a great place to hike when studying gets boring. This 50-cm natural color WorldView-2 image appears courtesy of DigitalGlob and was taken August 10, 2011. PhotoEnhanced by Apollo Mapping.

The city of Palo Alto got its name from a native Redwood tree that resides along the Sanfrancisquito Creek. Its headwaters are located in the watershed of the Santa Cruz Mountains in nearby Menlo Park, originating at the Searsville Lake, a nature preserve area purchased by the university in the 1890s. Another unique area neighborhood of Palo Alto is known as Professorville. The university allowed professors to build on its property in its early days, but would only lease the land. As a result, professors that wanted to own their property outright built in the area nearest to campus, now affectionately known as Professorville. The area is a registered historic district, and its architectural influences range from Dutch Colonial to Colonial Revival to American Craftsman. The entire city of Palo Alto, including its surrounding environment, makes for a beautiful snapshot of an idyllic college town and a recreationist’s paradise. Now if I would have only scored higher on those ACTs…

Justin Harmon

Staff Writer

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