With a population of approximately 29,000 residents, Los Altos was developed with the concept of a "park in every backyard". Los Altos began as a commuter town with the Southern Pacific Railroad connecting it to Los Gatos and Palo Alto using steam train service along what is now Foothill Expressway. The town flourished as an agricultural and commuter town throughout the mid-1900's, and was eventually incorporated as a city in 1952. Train service through the town was stopped in 1964, as broad adoption of the automobile replaced the usefulness of the train service.
Los Altos features a quaint downtown that serves as the gathering spot for all the local residents. During the summer months, the city sponsors movie nights downtown and each year there are multiple art, wine, and beer festivals that bring in residents from nearby Mountain View and Palo Alto. The Los Altos Village Association was formed in the 1960's to help promote the local downtown businesses and act as a bridge to the local community, and they have long been promoters of the downtown's vitality. Residents can be found frequenting the Los Altos Grill on Friday and Saturday nights, and it is not uncommon to see stroller brigades on the weekend mornings as families flock to the downtown area for coffee and dining.
The elementary and middle schools in Los Altos are consistently ranked as some of the top in the State, with all of the elementary schools achieving a Great Schools ranking of 10. The majority of the homes in Los Altos are zoned into the Los Altos School District, but a portion of South Los Altos is zoned into the Cupertino Unified School District. For High School, the students from the Los Altos schools are integrated with the students from the Mountain View schools within the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District. Parents that want their children to attend private school have an incredible number of options including the Pinewood School, St. Francis High School, and St. Nicholas Catholic School to name a few.
Los Altos is separated into two zip codes that are also shared with Los Altos Hills. The 94022 zip code includes North Los Altos, and this area is located closer to the downtown business district. North Los Altos includes many of the original historic estate homes within the community, and includes some of the larger and more expensive new construction homes in the area. Over the past 25 years, there has been an increase in condominium and townhome construction in the downtown district to provide the opportunity for local residents to downsize within the community. The 94024 zip code includes South Los Altos, and much of this area is tract homes that were built during the building boom of the 1960's. Homes in South Los Altos are typically on quarter acre lots and range in size from 1800 to 2500 square feet.