The Hawkeye

Palo Alto’s Modern Transformation

By Bennett Baker


Palo Alto is just like any other satellite city of Silicon Valley– rapidly growing and transforming.

“When I moved here, the town was just apricot orchards,” Chris Storer, an employee at local establishment Bell’s Books, said about Palo Alto. A banner in the front of the store boasts of Bell’s Books opening in 1935, making it one of the oldest remaining stores in town.

A resident since 1980, Storer has seen the city grow rapidly over the past 36 years. At times, Storer felt that the city was growing too fast for the local government to keep up.

“On the whole, however, it’s been well managed,” Storer said.

In his 18 years working at Palo Alto Creamery, Robert Graham has noticed a definite change in the city of Palo Alto’s culture and demographic.

“It’s gone from more mom-and-pop to tech,” Graham said. He added that the city, which he described as once being ‘nine to five,’ is now a busy 24-hour city.

According to the Bay Area Census, the population of Palo Alto has grown from approximately 55,000 to 67,000 since 1980.

“Towns either grow or die,” Storer said. “Palo Alto has been pretty successful.”

Many new buildings have been constructed over the years, often replacing older buildings, Graham said.

Storer has noticed a definite increase in diversity in the city, as Palo Alto has become more cosmopolitan, primarily due to the advent of Silicon Valley.

“It’s much more diverse than it was,” Storer said.

According to the Bay Area Census, 90 percent of Palo Alto’s population was white in the 1980s, compared to 64 percent in 2010. The Asian population in Palo Alto has grown the most since 1980, rising from six percent to 27 percent in 2010.

Despite the changing demographic, Storer notes that some things haven’t changed.

“There has always been a ‘town and gown’ split,” Storer said, referring to a lack of connection between Stanford University and the city of Palo Alto. “Campus has stayed aloof from Palo Alto.”

Graham takes pride in the fact that the Palo Alto Creamery is among the ever-shrinking list of businesses which have survived the changing times.

“We’ve been here since 1923 so we have so many people that come back that went to Stanford in the thirties, forties, fifties. You have third, fourth generation people that come back,” Graham continues. “Our places is one of the few places left which hasn’t been modernized.”

Bennett Baker is a senior at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.25.06 PMCalifornia. Last year he was the News Section Editor for the school’s monthly newspaper, Blueprint. Next year, Bennett will be an Editor-in-Chief for the paper. He came to Newsroom by the Bay to diversify his journalistic skills. Bennett loves to ski and goes skiing in Tahoe, California almost every weekend in the winter.


Palo Alto’s Modern Transformation