EL PALO ALTO Park
Location: 117 Palo Alto Avenue (between El Camino Real and Alma Street)
Description: 0.5 acre park. Home to The Tall Tree (the Sequoia Sempervirens, or Coast Redwood) that gave Palo Alto its name. The park, a narrow plot of land along San Francisquito Creek just east of El Camino Real and the railroad tracks, features a lighted pedestrian/bike pathway that connects Palo Alto and Menlo Park.
History note: El Palo Alto has been a local landmark for hundreds of years. The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians revered the tree, Gaspar de Portola and his party looking for Monterey Bay camped beneath it in 1769, and in 1774 Father Palou planted a cross on the site marking the possible location of a Spanish mission. In the mid-1800s, the tree was a survey point for a road which was to become El Camino Real. Early drawings show El Palo Alto with two trunks. One of the trunks may have been lost during a very wet winter; or it may have been felled when the railroad trestle was built. El Palo Alto is over a thousand years old, stands at 110.8 feet tall, and is California Heritage Landmark #2.
Of special interest: Six interpretive plaques -- three on the Palo Alto side and three on the Menlo Park side -- provide history and environmental information on the San Francisquito Creek Watershed.