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CA Palo Alto St. Claire Gardens

Less well-known than Palo Alto’s Eichler communities and staggeringly affluent neighborhoods like Old Palo Alto, St. Claire’s Gardens is a hidden gem within the city. The neighborhood is tiny, encompassing just St. Claire Dr, St. Michaels Dr, and St. Michaels Ct. It was developed in the early 1950s by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco in the early 1950s, at around the same time as Joseph Eichler’s work in other parts of Palo Alto. Its Catholic roots are evident in the style of homes here — they forgo the modernist Eichler glass and concrete for roomier three- to five-bedroom homes that can accommodate larger families.

The neighborhood is distinguished by its tight community. Every month, for example, the women in the community get together for a ladies lunch. Residents look out for the children of the neighborhood, who shoot hoops and skate at dusk with each other. And the entire neighborhood is a bit of an oasis from the rest of Palo Alto — it’s only accessible via two outlets on St. Claire Dr, which cuts off through traffic and envelopes the three streets with a kind of peace hard to find elsewhere in the city. An iconic landmark is the city-recognized heritage tree, decorated by residents with thousands of LED lights that serve as a well-loved beacon in the neighborhood.

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