If Atherton seems especially quiet and secluded, it’s no accident: The town prohibits commercial development of any kind, and it declares in its General Plan that streets are “designed primarily as scenic routes rather than for speed of travel.”
Atherton was named Fair Oaks until 1923. Today, the town's neighborhoods are still thickly wooded with oaks, redwoods, cedars, pines, and ornamental trees.
Atherton also stands out as one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked Atherton's ZIP code, 94027, as the nation’s most expensive ZIP code, with a median home price of $9,026,885.
Notable residents, past and present, include former movie star and diplomat Shirley Temple Black, baseball great Willie Mays, Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.
Atherton was originally comprised of large estates owned by wealthy San Francisco businessmen. The estates were gradually subdivided, beginning in the 1920s and ’30s, but the town has held fast to rules setting the minimum lot size at one acre.
Atherton covers five square miles in southern San Mateo County, bordered by Menlo Park, Redwood City, Woodside, and unincorporated areas of the county. It stretches from Interstate 280 to the southwest to Highway 101 to the northeast. San Francisco is 29 miles to the north, and San Jose is 21 miles to the south.
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