Situated between Redwood City and Palo Alto, Menlo Park is world famous for being Facebook’s headquarters with its expansive campus located next to the San Francisco Bay and the Dumbarton Bridge. But Menlo Park is so much more than its famous landmark, and offers many charming residential neighborhoods, world-class venture capital firms on Sand Hill Road, and close proximity to all that Stanford University has to offer.
The naming of Menlo Park came about in a roundabout fashion involving a nameless train station, a gated entrance to a land purchase, and a misspelling of a place in Ireland. In 1854, two Irish immigrants purchased 1,700 acres and named their land Menlo Park after “Menlough”, their home in Galway, Ireland. The brothers built two houses with a common entrance, then erected a huge wooden gate with tall arches on which the name of their homestead, Menlo Park, was printed. When a train station was built near the gate entrance in 1863 and needed a name, a railroad official decided that Menlo Park would be an appropriate name, so the name was adopted for this station at the end of the train line and the town that grew around it. This same station is now California State Landmark No. 955, the oldest California station in continuous operation. The growing city soon adopted the name of the station, and the city of Menlo Park was officially incorporated in 1927.
Menlo Park has a charming downtown that offers boutiques and cafes, along with Trader Joe’s, two Safeways, and Draeger’s Market, a gourmet grocery store. Menlo Park residents often take advantage of amenities offered in neighboring communities, particularly the upscale stores available at the nearby Stanford Mall just blocks from downtown. Menlo Park is a quiet town, but hidden among it are some notable locations. The 1998 birthplace of Google was an east Menlo Park garage rented to Google co-creators Sergey Brin and Larry Page by Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s current CEO. SLAC, Stanford’s atomic particle accelerator, sits at the far west end of Menlo Park and is one of 17 Department of Energy national labs. SLAC offers free public tours, as well as internships, and high school and college educational programs. The US Geological Society has an Earthquake Science Center located here, and then there is that little company called Facebook….
Like many public schools in Silicon Valley, Menlo Park’s schools often perform at the top of state measurements. Community events include a 4th of July Parade, a downtown block party, a Nativity Carnival during the holidays, and the Otter run, a city wide walk-a-thon to raise funds for Menlo Park public schools.
Menlo Park offers an exceptional quality of life, and is a highly sought-after community in which to live. With easy access to parks, shopping, excellent schools and a diverse, highly educated population, the city that was once a small train stop at the end of the line now offers a wealth of Silicon Valley opportunities.