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"Palo Alto is no college town. . ."

Original post made by stanfordstudent, Stanford, on Sep 6, 2007

Just reading the "Best of Palo Alto" and loved the description in the "Best place to take out-of-towners" category. It's true! Palo Alto is no college town. Life on the farm is okay, but where's our Telegraph Avenue?

Comments (4)

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Posted by Arama Nash
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 6, 2007 at 1:06 pm

stanfordstudent, you are exactly right! A prior occupation had me visiting hundreds of college towns. I have seen few like this one, where there is a spoken and unspoken barrier existant between the town and university. I don't know what drives this, but my guess is that there is a certain "preciousness" to Stanford's culture that is somewhat exclusionary (after all, Stanford is still young as a prestige school, so it flaunt this nouveau prestige in a weird - but rather predictable - way.

That said, Palo Alto has a significant minority of citizens that are willing to create a commission to keep other people from trodding non pretty on autumn leaves before they dehydrate into a papery brown (I'm exaggerating :) - the popint being that there is a kind of faux exclusivity about this place, too, mostly brought about by the same phenomenon that Stanford suffers from - a kind of "nouveau riche-ness" that loves to wallow in its unexpected good fortune.

I expect that this will change as both communities continue to mature, rid themselves of the inferiority that drives positioning for exclusivity, and learn to relax within the gift of their bounty, or accidental bounty, as the case may be.

Old wealth doesn't cry out for attention the way new wealth does. Everything will change.


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Posted by Happy in PA
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2007 at 1:31 pm

I am always impressed by the arrogance of those who think that Palo Alto has any particular importance vis a vis Stanford. PA exists, because Leland Stanford developed his farm into a university...it is not the other way around. PA was developed in response to Stanford. The little town called Mayfield was independent, until Mrs. Stanford decided she wanted it incorporated into PA.

Stanford is a large campus, thus it is not necessary to have an urban college-town feel in PA. Stanford is a MAJOR economic engine for PA, though. If Stanford gets a cold, PA will get pneunomia.

Arama, I don't know what "commission" you are talking about, but I sure hope you fail. It sounds like a "faux" commission to me.


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Posted by Arama Nash
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 6, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Happy in PA, haha - - it "is" a faux commission - you missed my joke - - probably because you're too happy :) I agree with you about PA staus, relative to Stanford, but Stanford itself is far too serious, and still suffering from some inferiority relative to east coast universities, even though it is their equal. "nouveau status" will work itself out...


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Posted by mathlete
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hey Arama- you mentioned that you used to have a job that allowed you to travel to different universities frequently...that sounds interesting...I'm just curious about what it was you used to do...?


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