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News

Street crack-sealing project begins Monday, May 4

The City of Los Altos is beginning a city-wide street crack-sealing project on Monday (May 4).

City officials said the traffic impact for this project will be minimal. No streets will be closed and vehicles can resume normal traffic flow shortly aft...

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Schools

Homestead students use projects  to solve environmental problems

Homestead students use projects to solve environmental problems


Alisha Parikh/Special to the Town Crier
Homestead High School junior Maya Dhar, a Los Altos resident, left, and classmate Carolyn MacDonald support the school’s AP Environmental Science classes at the Arbor Day Festival April 23.

As summer app...

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Community

CHAC appoints new leader

CHAC appoints new leader

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, LCSW, has been named the new executive director of the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). A seasoned nonprofit leader, Nakano-Matsumoto is scheduled to assume duties July 1. She takes over for outgoing executive direct...

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Sports

St. Francis swimmers shine

St. Francis swimmers shine


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Benjamin Ho competes against Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday. The junior swam on all three victorious relays at the home meet, which the Lancers won easily.

Flexing its power in the pool, host St....

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Comment

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices

Halsey House deserves preservation: Other Voices


Many contributing supporters to the Friends of Historic Redwood Grove believe that the Halsey House, designated a historic landmark by the Los Altos City Council in 1981, deserves to be saved and renovated for adapted use by the community.

Set in ...

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Special Sections

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal

Sneaky shots: A photographer’s guide to capturing the proposal


Elliott Burr/Special to the Town Crier
A stealthy photographer scouts locations ahead of time to find not just a place to perch, but also the ideal position for the subjects.

It’s showtime.

You’re about to ask the person in front of...

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Business

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend

Pharmaca celebrates grand opening over weekend


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Pharmaca is coming to 400 Main St. with a grand-opening celebration scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

If natural health and beauty products are your cup of tea, expect to find them – and hot tea – this weekend at the gran...

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Books

People

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

JANE BUTTERFIELD PRINGLE LYND

October 30, 1924 - April 8, 2015

Jane Butterfield Pringle Lynd, daughter to Liebert and Elise Butterfield of San Francisco, passed away quietly at her home in Palo Alto surrounded by her family, following a short illness. Jane was a proud third ge...

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View

'Birds' landing in Mtn. View


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The Pear Avenue Theatre production of Paul Braverman’s “Birds of a Feather” stars Troy Johnson as mafia boss Sean Kineen, left, and Diane Tasca as private eye Frankie Payne.

Pear Avenue Theatre’s world premi...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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A century after initial plan, hotel finally becoming reality in Los Altos


Photo By: Courtesy of Don McDonald
Photo Courtesy Of Don Mcdonald

A 1908 ad promoting Los Altos announced a free “old-time Spanish barbeque,” pictured above, at “one of the most ideal spots on the peninsula (and) higher than Palo Alto.”

“Better late than never” could well be the motto of the new hotel under construction at the corner of Main Street and San Antonio Road in downtown Los Altos.

The earliest ad for the tiny community of Los Altos circa 1908 promised that “a hotel and bank and post office building are assured at once.” So, after a slight delay of 105 years, downtown Los Altos will finally have its promised hotel.

Thanks to the eagle eye of Jim Lyons, a dealer in historical newspapers, we uncovered this long-ago promise among other details relating to the picnic advertised in a photo from the Los Altos History Museum’s archives. Lyons unearthed the details in the pages of the 1908 Palo Altan.

An ad for the event announced a free “old-time Spanish barbeque” at “one of the most ideal spots on the peninsula (and) higher than Palo Alto.” The ad urged readers to “spend the day amid the woods and wild flowers of Los Altos (and) picnic along the banks (and) cozy nooks of Los Yuegas Creek.” Los Yuegas Creek is now Adobe Creek. Other features promised “delightful views of the Valley and Bay.” The price of the round-trip 11:55 a.m. railroad ticket was 25 cents, including the barbecue.

The picnic heralded the first major public offering of Los Altos lots for sale, most in the $400 to $600 range. Interested visitors were encouraged to board one of two special trains, one from San Francisco and the other from San Jose. They were the first passenger trains to travel over the new single tracks along what was then known as the “Palo Alto-Los Gatos Cutoff.”

The week after the picnic, the Palo Altan reported that the event was a great success, with nearly 3,000 people in attendance, including those who arrived by carriage and automobile. The article claimed that “nearly a ton of beef” was served and “plenty of agents” were on hand to sell lots. Event organizer Walter A. Clark announced sales of $160,000, a sum that we assume included sales to Paul Shoup and his relatives and friends. Clark referred to “many prominent people who had already purchased lots, (among them) officials on the SP and other railroads.”

In previous publicity, Clark mentioned the availability of “attractive sites for country homes (on land adjacent to Los Altos) “in the rolling hills above Yuegas Creek,” which eventually became Los Altos Hills.

A photo from 1910 documents the second major public sales event by the Altos Land Co., organized to celebrate the long-delayed opening of the Peninsula Railway electric line along the Palo Alto-Los Gatos Cutoff.

To entice visitors, the company offered a free excursion on the railway’s new electric cars. The 88 Los Altos residents who accepted the offer rode from the town’s temporary railroad station to Mayfield and to Palo Alto, where a light luncheon was served. The cars then went to Stanford University, where a photographer took a shot of the crowd gathered in front of the cars.

A San Jose Mercury article following the event reported that “the advent of the cars was cheered by all the towns passed through, and from all the farmhouses along the route, greetings were exchanged by the waving of handkerchiefs and hats.”

The Altos Land Co. was absorbed in a reorganization involving San Francisco financiers in 1913. The newly formed Los Altos Co. assumed control of the company’s assets. Although short on details, we believe that the primary reason for the reorganization was the town’s failure to grow as fast as had been planned.

We know from other sources that sales were somewhat disappointing. The panic of 1907 may have been a factor. Another problem could have been the heavy competition posed by other new real estate developments in San Francisco and along the Peninsula.

Shoup was the only officer of the Altos Land Co. to retain his position in the new company. He continued to earn his eventual posthumous reputation as the “Father of Los Altos.”

Don McDonald is a local historian and longtime volunteer with the Los Altos History Museum.

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