The Eichler Subdivision: Designed for Neighborhood Connection, Recreation and Community Enjoyment
THE EICHLER SUBDIVISION: DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE NEIGHBORHOOD CONNECTIONS, RECREATION AND COMMUNITY ENJOYMENT
It is easy to lose yourself in Meadow Park. It is easy to be absorbed by its tranquility and atmosphere of absolute safety and walk the neighborhood streets with the sense that this place could be home.
Neighborhoods like Meadow Park are Palo Alto gems because they preserve the connectedness of a visually unified neighborhood, a feature of tract housing, but also have a personality and spirit that comes only from families growing and shaping the community over time.
Although the streets are often quiet, Meadow Park is a close-knit community. “We found everybody very friendly from the beginning,” says one Grove Ave. resident. “It felt warm, welcoming.” She moved from Cupertino six years ago with her husband and three kids, aged 5, 7 and ten.
Young families view Meadow Park favorably in part because of its proximity to Palo Alto schools (see previous post). Indeed, the schools have always been an attraction, according to Eichler Homes’ original brochure.
Many residents are original owners of their homes, having settled in the development in the late 1950s and 1960s. “The neighborhood is more diverse now than it used to be,” says Faith Hastings, secretary of the Meadow Park Neighborhood Association, of the influx of younger residents. “We’re getting a better mix of people now.” As a resident of 45 years, Hastings has certainly seen the neighborhood change.
The Meadow Park Neighborhood Association organically unites the community, tackling issues that affect all residents, such as the impact of nearby developments. Meadow Park residents look out for each other and are invested in keeping the community safe; the Neighborhood Association is currently recruiting residents to participate in City-sponsored preparedness trainings.
Meadow Park’s small size allows the Neighborhood Association to organize inclusive events. The annual 4th of July barbeque is perhaps the most notable effort. “We got about 50 people to come last time,” Hastings says. The Neighborhood Association is naturally resident-driven, and its successes bring to light another feature of Eichler developments: the importance of community.
Developer Joe Eichler wanted his developments to feel cohesive; something he achieved in part through the unifying design elements of his homes. The idea of community was important, and the designer made efforts to encourage connections among residents.
One method through which Eichler achieved community interaction was incorporating parks and green spaces into his developments. Although neighborhood lines have changed over time, Meadow Park continues to enjoy easy access to a number of recreation areas (see previous post).
A short distance across the creek and down Adobe Meadow’s winding streets is Don Jesus Ramos Park, a 4.4-acre area with basketball hoops, picnic tables and playgrounds, encircled by a paved path. The park was originally the playground for Ortega school, now Ortega Court, and first known as Meadow Park when converted to reflect its position on the housing tract. Ramos, as residents affectionately call it, was built in 1958, the same year as the Meadow Park subdivision.
Eichler Swim and Tennis Club on Louis Road is also nearby. The club, also built in 1958, was designed by Eichler and specifically intended for use by residents of the surrounding area. Today the club continues to fulfill its original designation, drawing adults for afternoon tennis matches and children for competitive swim teams.
Beyond recreational areas, Eichler development layouts are another means of encouraging community interaction. 728 Gailen Ave., an excellent example of a preserved and tastefully updated home, sits on one of four cul-de-sacs clustered in Meadow Park. The significance of this layout will be addressed in the next and final post,; one Palo Alto resident’s reflections on growing up in an Eichler.