The first inhabitants were the Ohlone Indians. There was once an Ohlone shell mound near the corner of Central Expressway and San Antonio Road. The site was first excavated in 1893 by Stanford archaeologists, who found the remains of more than 150 Native Americans. The mound was estimated to be 500 ft. long, 300 ft. wide, and 10 ft. deep. Archaeologists found a circular house floor almost 20 feet in diameter, needles, barbed fish spears, arrowheads, pestles, pendants, and pipes, many of which dated from 1100 B.C. to 800 B.C. Sadly, most of the mound was carved up in the 1940s and marketed as “Indian Mound Top Soil,” destroying its archaeological value and, more importantly, its spiritual value.
Prior to becoming a residential neighborhood, Monta Loma was the site of the Progressive Airport in the 1930s and 1940s. The runway extended along what is now Alvin Street. A link to photos of the airfield is on the History page under the Monta Loma heading at www.montaloma.org.
The neighborhood was developed in the mid 1950s by three competing homebuilders: Joseph Eichler, John Mackay, and the Mardell Building Company. Each developer gave the neighborhood its own name: Fairview, Oakwood, and Mardell Manor. Classic post-war suburbia, Monta Loma rivals San Mateo Highlands and San Rafael for the designation of Bay Area’s largest adjoining assemblage of mid-century modern single-family dwellings.
Eichler’s homes were constructed with mahogany paneling instead of drywall. If a fire started, the paneling burned so quickly that the entire house was often destroyed before the fire fighters in Palo Alto arrived. This led Mackay and Mardell to build their homes in Monta Loma with drywall instead of wood paneling. It also drove Mountain View to build the fire station on Rengstorff.
The Google office complex on the corner of San Antonio and Central Expressway was once a shopping mall. When it opened in 1966, Mayfield Mall one of the first indoor, air-conditioned, and carpeted suburban malls. It later became a campus for Hewlett-Packard Company.
Steve Jobs, who founded Apple Computer, attended Monta Loma Elementary School. His family lived on Diablo Ave.
Thaddeus Park was created when neighbors, tired of waiting for cash-strapped Mountain View to do some landscaping, convinced city staff that they could build their own neighbor-hood park. In 1972, 250 neighborhood volunteers spent six weekends putting up fencing, planting trees and shrubs, seeding the lawn and installing sprinklers. The City was doubtful about the value of a “pocket park,” but now they are enjoyed throughout Mountain View.