Los Altos is a city in the San Francisco Bay Area of Santa Clara County, California. According to the 2020 census, the population was 31,625 people.
Los Altos is bounded on the west by Los Altos Hills, on the west and northwest by Palo Alto, on the north and northeast by Mountain View, on the east by Sunnyvale, and on the southeast by Cupertino.
Los Altos is divided into three sections by three creeks that flow north to San Francisco Bay: Adobe Creek on the west, Stevens Creek on the east, and Permanente Creek in the middle. Hale Creek is a tributary of Permanente Creek, which is now mostly redirected to Stevens Creek by a diversion canal. All three creeks emerge from the Black Mountain slopes.
The majority of the city’s expansion happened between 1950 and 1980. Originally an agricultural hamlet with many summer cottages and apricot orchards, Los Altos is now an upscale bedroom neighborhood on Silicon Valley’s western outskirts, serving as a key source of commuters to other sections of the valley. Commercial zones in Los Altos are strictly limited to the downtown area and tiny shopping and office parks along Foothill Expressway and El Camino Real.
The neighborhood was previously known as “Banks and Braes.” In 1906, Paul Shoup, a Southern Pacific Railroad executive, and his colleagues established the Altos Land Company and began the development of Los Altos. Sarah Winchester sold the firm 140 acres (57 ha) of land. Shoup wished to connect Palo Alto and Los Gatos by establishing Los Altos as a commuting community. It maintained a daily train service to and from San Francisco.
Southern Pacific Railroad began operating steam trains through Los Altos on April 19, 1908, with five trains each day. A train depot was made up of two freight carriages. Eschenbruecher’s Hardware, the first commercial structure, was also constructed in downtown. The Los Altos railroad station, located at 288 First Street, was built in the craftsman style in 1913.
Many homeowners were unsatisfied with Santa Clara County’s zoning laws by 1949, and there was a constant danger of annexation by neighboring Palo Alto and Mountain View, so they sought to incorporate. On December 1, 1952, Los Altos became the eleventh city in Santa Clara County.
The rail service was discontinued in January 1964, and the train track was converted into the Foothill Expressway. Los Altos may legitimately claim to have invented the first scientifically designed sound baffle in 1970. Santa Clara County conducted a groundbreaking study to assess the effects of several soundwall designs along the Foothill Expressway. The resulting wall reduced the noise pollution levels experienced by surrounding residences by seven to ten decibels, as projected.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, co-founders of Apple, created the first 50 Apple I computers in Jobs’ garage in Los Altos in 1976.
In 2004, Judy Fusco rented her Los Altos home to Mark Zuckerberg, later dubbed “Casa Facebook,” where he and a few other partners grew Facebook from 200,000 to 2.5 million members.
Los Altos will host the world’s first consumer flying car showroom on April 15, 2021.
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