Palo Alto Cultural History

By Michael Repka & Michelle Lee

Palo Alto is often named among the best places in the country to live, and it’s easy to see why. The weather is near perfect, the city’s public schools rank among the top nationwide, and Palo Alto rests adjacent to esteemed Stanford University. World-class companies have also put down powerful roots in the area, including Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, VMWare, and, of course, DeLeon Realty. Here at DeLeon Realty, we are proud to reside in this prime location that prides itself on innovation. Palo Alto is also legendary for being home to incredible individuals who have went on to dominate their fields across a wide variety of disciplines.

Many business leaders and entrepreneurs have called this beloved city home, including founders and C-suite executives from Apple, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo. And, who doesn’t have a sweet spot for Debbie Fields, the founder of Mrs. Fields! Plus, Elizabeth Holmes, the embattled founder and CEO of Theranos has lived in Palo Alto, although she may be residing elsewhere in the future. For the famous few who have also passed away in the area, including William Hewlett, David Packard, and Steve Jobs, their final resting place remains in Palo Alto at Alta Mesa Cemetery along Arastradero Road. All of those notable people have made a profound impact in today’s world and their impact is set to last a lifetime.

Beyond the strong tech presence in the area, a handful of actors, politicians, and world-class athletes have also been born or settled in the area. Just to name a few, the famous Franco brothers, Teri Hatcher from Desperate Housewives, and Rick Rossovich from Top Gun and Roxanne have lived in Palo Alto. NBA Brooklyn Nets’ Jeremy Lin was a recent Palo Alto High School graduate, along with San Francisco 49ers’ Jim Harbaugh and Green Bay Packer’s Davante Adams. Playing quarterback for 13 seasons with the 49ers, Steve Young and his family also reside in Palo Alto. Olympic champions, including the Schultz brothers and swimmer Matt Blondi, winner of 11 Olympic medals, have also lived here.

Even one of America’s most famous politicians, Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, was enrolled at nearby Stanford University and lived on campus with his wife. One of their sons later lived in Palo Alto. Following suit, Ron Christie, the great pianist and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and many other politicians have laid roots in our great city.

Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times technology journalist John Markoff grew up in this great city and has lived here for many years. NASA scientists, Nobel laureates, and Pamela Melroy (an astronaut who was the second woman to command a space shuttle mission) lived here.

Renowned musicians and rock bands have also resided and been formed here, from Third Eye Blind’s rock musician Stephan Jenkins, who is a Gunn High alumnus, to Fleetwood Mac’s lead guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham who was born and raised in Palo Alto. Joan Baez, the famous folk musician, attended school in Palo Alto before moving
to Woodside.

The early incarnations of the rock band The Grateful Dead, active from 1965 to 1995, were also based here. Their bass guitarist Phil Lesh met lead guitarist and vocalist Jerry Garcia at a party in neighboring Menlo Park and as they say, the rest is history. Lesh resided at his prestigious Professorville home at 1012 High Street and their band, then called The Warlocks, met up frequently to practice and play, both in the home and at nearby venues, including Palo Alto High School.