Both praised and admired for its diversity and enlightened sense of community, Downtown North is one of Palo Alto’s most preferred residential neighborhoods.
Bounded by Middlefield Road, University Avenue, Alma Street and Palo Alto Avenue, Downtown North is a compacted, pedestrian-friendly community with about 2,500 residents. This quarter mile square primarily residential district is one of Palo Alto’s most urban neighborhoods. It is also one of the most economically diverse and offers a good variety of housing options.
Perhaps one of its strongest residential draws is the appealing aesthetic mix found in Downtown North between quaint bungalows, mid-rise studio apartments and condominiums. If you’re looking to become a homeowner, the Downtown North neighborhood offers one and two-story homes, usually fitted on tight lots with shallow, not too glamorous front yards and old front porches reminding one of more traditional times. There are also a handful of condominiums available. Renters find many desirable living options to consider ranging from modest duplex buildings to small apartment communities.
While Downtown North affords one a real sense of small town living, its residents contend with the challenges of urban life. Foremost among these contrasting lifestyle situations is the need to balance access to much of what Palo Alto has going for it with the nettlesome traffic issues and lack of street parking thatlocation brings to the neighborhood. Yes, Downtown North is convenient to Stanford University and downtown Palo Alto. It also has a small, vibrant commercial district along University Avenue where neighborhood essentials like a coffee shop, hardware store, banks, a couple neighborhood eateries and drug store provide for casual, quick errand needs and wants. And then there are the commuters who use the Palo Alto’s Caltrain station which anchors the southern end of the neighborhood. The good news is that the neighborhood is united in working with the city of Palo Alto on identifying and implementing solutions to its traffic and parking concerns. Recent traffic-restriction measures in the residential part of Downtown North have created a much quieter and pedestrian-friendly environment.
Johnson Park, a greenbelt resource the city of Palo Alto redeveloped a public open space from a residential housing district, is now at the center of social life. It has become a place where neighbors get to know each other better. Just about any time of day you visit you’ll find the park is full of kids, seniors and families at play or walking their dogs.
DOWNTOWN NORTH FACTS
LOCATION: between San Francisquito Creek and University Avenue, Alma Street and Middlefield Road
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Downtown North Neighborhood Association (DTNNA) – http://www.dtnna.com
POST OFFICE: Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave.
FIRE STATION: No. 1, 301 Alma St.
LIBRARY: Downtown branch, 270 Forest Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
SHOPPING: University Avenue, Stanford Shopping Center
PARKS: Cogswell Plaza; El Camino Park; El Palo Alto Park; Hopkins Creekside Park; Johnson Park
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