Apple Computer was born in Los Altos, in the garage of Steve Jobs’ boyhood home and thereby placing the town firmly in the heart and history of Silicon Valley. Divided into eight neighborhoods, Los Altos is bordered to the north, south and east by the cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Cupertino, while Los Altos Hills and the Santa Cruz mountains are west of town.
Historically an agricultural community known for its apricot orchards, residential land development began in 1906 after the San Francisco earthquake of the same year. Originally intended to be a commuter town for the cities between Mayfield and Los Gatos on the Southern Pacific Railroad, the development was named Los Altos or “the Heights”, as it was at the highest elevation along the train’s route. Today, the train route is a distant memory, replaced with the Foothill Expressway. This is the city’s only major thoroughfare, and only parts of the city are accessible by the 82, 85, and 280 freeways. This limited access to Los Altos is by design, intended to preserve the semi-rural lifestyle that attracts many people to the area.
The city was formally incorporated in 1952 in order for residents to create and regulate city zoning laws as the population grew and gained in popularity, and to keep from being annexed by neighboring Palo Alto and Mountain View. Residential lot sizes require a minimum of one-quarter acre, most streets do not have sidewalks or lighting, and commercial zones are strictly limited to the downtown area. The 29,000 residents of Los Altos appreciate a country lifestyle and a small village atmosphere. One of its most notable residents, Steve Jobs, famously built the first fifty Apple computers in his parents’ Los Altos garage in 1976.
Los Altos champions a slower lifestyle that is reminiscent of a time before the massive development in the San Francisco Bay area in general, and Silicon Valley in particular. The city is very family friendly, and boasts top-performing public schools. The city keeps its residents busy with an array of art, music, fitness, and sports classes for all ages, as well as seasonal events like the Thursday’s Farmer’s Market, Art in the Park, and the Festival of Lights Parade that has delighted children for more than forty years as floats decorated for the holidays move through downtown. The annual Arts and Wine Festival includes a stroll through downtown while exploring local artisan exhibits and tasting new wines. A charming downtown offers unique, locally owned shops and boutiques, all with a very non-commercial, small-town feel.
Los Altos prides itself on being ranked in the top 20 safest cities in California in 2017. That, the proximity to Silicon Valley, excellent schools, and the close-knit feel of this enchanting community makes it one in which to put down roots.