Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell aren’t just the names of illustrious Ivy League universities, but also are street names for the neighborhood of College Terrace.

Back in 1887, wealthy agriculturist, Alexander Gordon, purchased a 120-acre tract of land in the town of Mayfield (before it was incorporated into Palo Alto). As he started to develop and subdivide his property, he whimsically named the streets after these famous colleges. The construction of Stanford University nearby was likely part of the inspiration.

Flanked by prestigious institutions, like Stanford University, Hewlett Packard (HP), and big-name law firms, College Terrace maintains a friendly neighborhood atmosphere where residents enjoy simple pleasures, like the annual Easter Egg Hunt, summer block parties, and community picnics at Dartmouth Park. The College Terrace Resident’s Association (CTRA) remains very active, and has been instrumental in closing off certain streets for pedestrian-only access. This resulted in minimized traffic clogs and parking nuisances from Stanford University and nearby companies.

Due to College Terrace’s proximity to Stanford University, many of its residents have close ties to the school. In fact, a few of the homes in the neighborhood are owned by Stanford and are provided as part of the benefits to its high-level employees. Many tenured professors are also long-time residents who walk, bike, or even drive their golf carts to the campus.

College Terrace has a consistent demand for rentals, mainly from graduate students and new employees who work in one of the prestigious companies off of Page Mill Road. This robust rental market makes this neighborhood an ideal area for real estate investors looking to rent a 2-to-4-unit property they can hold long-term (7-12 years). While the cash flow analysis is less than ideal for a financed purchase, a nearly all-cash investment can give pretty stable returns.

Unlike Midtown or South Palo Alto, where city planning was more uniform, College Terrace has a mix of varying lot sizes and zoning areas. There are single-family homes with standard 6,250 square foot lots flush against small cottages with sub-standard 3,000 square foot lots. There are also duplexes or triplexes next to small shops.

Architectural styles are a patchwork in College Terrace, creating a visually dynamic environment with a mix of styles. In one street alone, can be found an English Cottage, a Queen Anne home, a California Mission Bungalow, and a Mid-Century Modern flat.


  • Stanford Avenue on the north
  • El Camino Real on the east
  • South California Avenue on the south
  • Amherst Street on the west

Public Schools

  • Walter Hays Elementary School (K-5) (#4 Elementary School in California)
  • Escondido Elementary School (K-5) (#8 Elementary School in California)
  • Jordan Middle School (6-8) (#3 Middle School in California)
  • Palo Alto High School (#5 High School in California)

state-ranked according to niche.com


  • College Terrace Library- 2300 Wellesley Street Palo Alto, CA 94306
  • Downtown Library- 270 Forest Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301
  • Main Library- 1213 Newell Road Palo Alto, CA 94303
  • Children’s Library- 1276 Harriet Street Palo Alto, CA 94301


  • Cameron Park- 2100 Wellesley Street Palo Alto, CA 94306
  • Mayfield Park- 2300 Wellesley Street Palo Alto, CA 94306
  • Weisshaar Park- 2298 Dartmouth Street Palo Alto, CA 94306
  • Werry Park- 2100 Dartmouth Street Palo Alto, CA 94301
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