The town of Menlo Park has two anniversary dates. The town was first incorporated in 1874 by Irish immigrants Dennis J. Oliver and D. C. McGlynn. The Menlo Park dates to the 1850s. This is when Oliver and McGlynn gave the town a name based on a community in their native country. The pair used a Spanish land grant to purchase a 1,700-acre piece of land, characterized by a wooden arch with the name "Menlo Park" proudly written on it. The former property is now located at El Camino Real and Middle Avenue. A car accident destroyed the sign in 1922. A nearby railroad station was named after the property. It was this railroad station, still in existence today, that lead to the town's development. The town's second incorporation date of 1927 is celebrated as the town's official birth. Menlo Park's California live oak serves as part of the official town logo, emphasizing a balance between nature and progress.
Menlo Park, CA Background
Menlo Park history dates back to land originally inhabited by the Ohlone Indians. The Filoli estate in Woodside contains evidence of this group's existence, including early tools and pottery. Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola ushered in an era of Spanish rule starting in 1769. Mission padres, explorers, military personnel, travelers and settlers populated the area through the early 1800s. The history of Menlo Park, California really began in 1854 when Oliver and McGlynn, who were related by marriage through sisters the pair married, built two houses with a common entrance. The railroad came to the area in 1863, originally referred as "the end of the line" before taking on the name Menlo Park Railroad Station. By the 1870s, the town consisted of a few general merchandise stores, some livery stables, saloons, and three hotels.
Menlo Park retained its rural flavor through the early 1900s. It wasn't until World War I that the town's direction shifted. Camp Freemont was built to train soldiers, eventually training nearly 50,000 men. A military hospital and related facilities were soon constructed where a Veteran's Administration hospital now stands. The town had lost its incorporation years before, leading to a race to reincorporate the town in 1927. Officials representing Menlo Park arrived just two minutes before those representing Atherton arrived to file incorporation papers. Menlo Park as it is known today was officially incorporated in 1927, the year now serving as the town's official anniversary date. Some argue that Menlo Park's history as the town people know today really began around this time.
These early influences are still felt in many of the Menlo Park's communities. World War II sparked a major development boom in Menlo Park. This growth continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The growth of California's famed Silicon Valley in the 1970s extended into Menlo Park. Today, the town is known as the home of Facebook and Google. Technology has replaced agriculture as the town's main source of revenue. Part of the charm of the communities that make up Menlo Park is a mix of rural attributes with the convenience of the urban amenities. Visitors and residents of Menlo Park enjoy a strong sense of community with local festivals, block parties, parades and celebrations incorporating the town's natural attributes. The history of Menlo Park, California is far from over as the town embraces its past and looks to the future.