Menlo Park was once the home of Ohlone Indians, who lived off the abundant natural production of the land and the bay. The tribe had no system of organized agriculture, simply because there was no need for it. In the latter half of the 18th century, Spanish explorers discovered the bay and began to colonize the Peninsula by giving away large sections of land. About 70 years later, a railroad station was built, connecting Menlo Park to the surrounding regions. Incidentally, this station still stands today as a registered California landmark.
Menlo Park owes much of its growth to military activity. Just before the U.S. involvement in the World War I, over 40,000 soldiers were sent to Camp Fremont for training. Later, in the 1940s, Dibble General Hospital was built to provide care to soldiers injured in World War II. After this war, city leadership implemented a growth plan by building a new civic center, expanding roads and establishing zoning ordinances. The city's first Master Plan was developed in the 1950s. Since then, Menlo Park has continued to grow, without negative impact on its high quality of life.
One of the features of Menlo Park living is the strong arts community. The Allied Arts Guild is a small neighborhood within a residential area of the city. The Guild is home to art studios, craft shops and boutiques. As such, it's a popular destination for window shopping, gift buying or just exploring. Performing art performances are available at Burgess Theatre, home of the Menlo Players Guild. The group is a mainstay of Menlo Park, having put on six productions a year for over 60 years. The plays continue to be very popular with the locals and a must-see for visitors.
Points of Interest
There are many notable attractions in the communities surrounding Menlo Park. Stanford University and its Jasper Ridge Biological Park are just a few miles south. Palo Alto, with its numerous arts groups, borders Menlo Park to the southeast. Palo Alto's Baylands Nature Preserve is a great spot for bird watching; the salt marshland is home to more than 150 bird species. The coastal hills on the west of Menlo Park hold regional parks and acres of undeveloped land, perfect for hiking and exploration. Just west of these hills are the gorgeous beaches of Central California.
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