Located in Santa Clara County, California, in northern Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Altos means "the heights" in Spanish. The area was originally called Banks and Braes. Paul Shoup, an executive of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and his colleagues formed the Altos Land Company in 1906 and started the development of Los Altos. The company acquired 140 acres of land from Sarah Winchester. Shoup wanted to link Palo Alto and Los Gatos by making Los Altos a commuter town. It continued a train-a-day operation to and from San Francisco. In 1908, Southern Pacific Railroad began running steam train service through Los Altos (April 19, 1908) with five trains per day. Two freight cars served as train depot. Also, the first commercial building, Eschenbruecher's Hardware, was built in downtown. In 1913, the craftsman-style Los Altos train station was built.
According to the 2010 United States Census:
Los Altos is the fifth wealthiest city in the nation. The median household income for 2013–2017 was $208,309. The city strives to maintain a semi-rural atmosphere. Los Altos has few sidewalks except in commercial zones and along arterial roads. Minimum lot size for most residential housing is one-quarter of an acre. The downtown is a triangle with arterials and collector streets on all sides that enable most through traffic to bypass Main Street. Many Los Altos homes fetch $2 million and higher.
Primary and middle school students attend schools in the Los Altos School District, the Cupertino Union School District, or Bullis Charter School (K–8). Local residents generally attend high school in one of two public school districts: Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, or Fremont Union High School District. The Los Altos School District has one of the highest average API scores in California and includes seven elementary schools in the Los Altos–Mountain View area. All of the public schools are highly regarded, and many graduates of Los Altos area high schools continue their education at well-known universities. Los Altos is also served by highly regarded private and religious schools.
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