Palo Alto, a community perhaps best known for being the home of world-famous Stanford University, is a medium sized city found in the central western portion of the state of California. Palo Alto has a population of approximately fifty eight thousand six hundred residents according to the year two thousand census, and is technically considered a charter city of the Golden State. Palo Alto is situated in Santa Clara County, which is a portion of the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Palo Alto takes its name from a tree, which goes by the term El Palo Alto. Palo Alto is governed by Mayor Pat Burt, and is estimated to have grown to about sixty one thousand residents as of the year two thousand seven. Palo Alto covers a total area of approximately twenty five and a half square miles, including about two square miles of standing surface water.
Palo Alto was originally inhabited by Native Americans of the Ohlone Tribe, who were the sole explorers of the region until the year seventeen sixty nine. In the year seventeen sixty nine, a Spanish explorer by the name Gaspar de Portola arrived, leading a sixty three person expedition between San Diego and Monterey. Palo Alto was first settled by non-Native Americans in the year eighteen twenty seven, followed by several waves of additional settlers in subsequent decades. Palo Alto is known for a diverse environmental setting, which includes oak forests, shorebirds, and estuarine habitats. Palo Alto was officially incorporated in the year eighteen ninety four, and adopted its current form of government in the year nineteen fifty.
The educational needs of Palo Alto are met primarily by the Palo Alto Unified School District, which includes a number of award winning institutions from the primary to high school levels. There are also a number of private schools, including the Castilleja School, the Challenger School, the International School of the Peninsula, and the Pinewood School. Palo Alto is also home to five branches of the Palo Alto City Library, Matadero Creek, the Cantor Arts Center, the Arizona Cactus Garden, the Palo Alto Art Center, and Stanford University.