About This Place
Palo Alto ( /ˌpæloʊæltoʊ/; Spanish: palo: "stick" and alto: "tall") is a California charter city located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, United States. The city shares its borders with East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford, Portola Valley, and Menlo Park. It is named after a redwood tree called El Palo Alto. The city includes portions of Stanford University, is headquarters to a number of Silicon Valley high-technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard, VMware, Tesla Motors, Ning, IDEO, Palantir Technologies, and Facebook, and has served as an incubator to several other high-technology companies, such as Google, Logitech, Intuit, Sun Microsystems, and PayPal. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 64,403 residents.
Palo Alto's earliest recorded history stems from 1769, when Gaspar de Portolà noted an Ohlone settlement. This remains an area of known Indian mounds. A plaque is erected at Middlefield Road and Embarcadero Road to commemorate this area.
The city got its name from a stand of tall redwood trees, El Palo Alto, by the banks of the San Francisquito Creek bordering Menlo Park. One of these trees can still be found by the railroad trestle near Alma Street (the other was destroyed during a storm in the late 20th century). A plaque recounts the story of a 63-man, 200-horse expedition from San Diego to Monterey from November 7–11, 1769. The group overshot and reached the San Francisco Bay instead. Thinking the bay was too wide to cross, the group decided to turn around near el palo alto.