The founder of Palo Alto, Timothy Hopkins was the adopted son of railroad magnate Mark Hopkins and his wife Mary Francis. Upon Mark Hopkins’ death, Timothy Hopkins took over his adopted father’s finances and became a director of the Central Pacific Railroad and of the Southern Pacific Railroad. A protégé of Leland Stanford’s, Hopkins was encouraged by Stanford to buy 697 acres of Seale property plus 40 acres of Greer property to develop into a university town. In 1887 the land was purchased; two years later the subdivision map was recorded and lots were sold. Hopkins named streets and planted trees in the town originally called University Park.
Hopkins and his wife, Mary Kellogg Crittenden, niece of his adopted mother, lived at Sherwood Park on the Menlo Park side of the creek. On his 280-acre estate, Hopkins grew violets and chrysanthemums which were sold commercially in San Francisco.
Hopkins was a major supporter of Stanford University and a trustee for life. He endowed the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory on Monterey Bay in 1892, donated railroad memorabilia to Stanford, and was active in the funding of the Lane Medical Library and the Stanford Home for Convalescent Children.
In 1907 Hopkins and his wife deeded the narrow strip of land along the Palo Alto side of San Francisquito Creek to the city of Palo Alto for parkland.